GHASTLY REMAINS: Mummified Solo Sailor Discovered Adrift Off Philippines

Mummy remains

This is an incredibly grim photograph, but it belies an end-of-life scenario more than a few cruising sailors might actually welcome. These are believed to be the mortal remains of a German cruiser, Manfred Bajorat, age 59, whose boat, a Jeanneau Sun Magic 44 named Sayo, was found about 40 miles off the Philippine coastal town of Barobo by two fishermen over the weekend. The current best guess on a cause of death is a sudden heart attack, and so far no one has any clear idea when this might have happened. According to published reports, Bajorat was last heard from either one or seven years ago, take your pick.

Me, I’d guess one year is more likely. What I’m really wondering is why the body is so well preserved. Most published reports are citing “dry ocean winds,” but in my experience there really is no such thing. Life on a boat at sea is always moist in some respect, and I would have thought that a dead body in a moist tropical environment would decompose very quickly. But then there’s a lot about corporal decomposition I do not understand. Maybe the condition of the corpse has something to do with a lack of microorganisms in the environment.

From photos and other materials found aboard it would seem Bajorat had been cruising all around the world for several years and had done at least some of this with a wife, Claudia, with whom he broke up in 2008. She died of cancer in 2010 and was buried on Martinique in the Caribbean. It is believed they had a daughter, Nina, who may work as a captain on a commercial vessel. Bajorat himself did a passage from Singapore to South Africa on a freighter in 2008, though it is not known in what capacity.

Sayo rig down

The yacht Sayo was discovered with her rig missing, damage she may well have sustained after her skipper passed away

Mob scene

Not sure when this was taken, but I would assume it was after the body was removed


Manfred Bajorat in a more animate state


His wife Claudia

Mummy again

Another view of the corpse

This business of finding dead bodies on missing yachts reminds me of that upside catamaran they found off South Africa and then lost again not so long ago. I think the families were probably hoping they’d find some remains aboard, but alas they were cheated of their closure. It seems that boat is still missing, and most likely we’ll never know for sure what happened to her crew.

Sources: Daily Express, Daily Mail Online, The Telegraph

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