Mummified Captain Found Drifting at Sea

By on February 29, 2016

The mummified remains of a man last seen seven years ago have been found drifting aboard his yacht 50 miles off the Philippines coast.
Mummified captain Manfred Fritz Bajorat drifted on ghost ship for seven years.
The mummified remains of Manfred Fritz Bajorat found at sea aboard half-submerged yacht.

Of all the strange things found on the high seas, this one might be the creepiest…and the saddest. Express reported that two fisherman recently discovered a yacht partially submerged off the coast of Barobo in the Philippines. When they climbed aboard, they came face to face with the grey, mummified remains of its captain amidst strewn food, photo albums and clothes.

He was still sitting at his desk, where he had possibly been using the radio equipment to make a distress call before he died.

Paperwork on board identified the man as Manfred Fritz Bajorat, a German explorer last seen in Mallorca, Spain by a fellow sailor in 2009. Authorities speculate the cause of death may have been a heart attack. A broken mast suggests the yacht may have encountered bad weather.

High temperatures, dry ocean winds, and salty air preserved the corpse as the boat drifted around the globe.

Mummified sailor found at sea

On the condition of the remains, Jeremy Laurance writes for The Independent:

Pictures show a man with silver hair and a beard, his head leaning towards his crooked arm, which is resting on the table, as if he were studying a chart. His body is remarkably intact. Seated in the cabin, it was protected from scavenging sea birds; and the high temperature, low humidity and salty sea-air appear to have combined to produce ideal conditions for preservation of the corpse.

Had he fallen into the water, it would have been a different story. In tropical seas, decomposition and putrefaction begin quickly and progress rapidly. A body may sink to the bottom initially but the bacterial action which causes it to bloat with gas will normally mean that, after three or four days, it will again float to the surface, where it is exposed to sea-birds, sharks and buffeting by the waves.

In cold water, this process may be slowed. The tissues form a soapy, fatty acid known as “grave wax” that protects the corpse and halts bacterial growth. Bodies have been recovered almost completely intact after several weeks in cold seas. However, a natural mummification such as Bajorat’s is rare, as it requires extreme conditions of cold, salinity, acidity or aridity.

UPDATE: The Independent article also reports that, though he has not been seen since 2009, the last message received from Bajorat was a year ago.


  1. zane

    February 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    he looks really good for being out there for a wile the salty seas kept him persevered and if someone were to touch him he would fall in to ashes because the way he was persevered.

  2. Gordon Murray

    September 21, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Goes to show you never abandon your boat until it is beyond hope. Stepping up to leave.
    That yacht was still floating after perhaps a full season on the waves left to its own devices

  3. Julie

    December 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    How do you know it was awful? I think he died doing exactly what he loved. Better that than lingering in pain…

    • Sandra

      September 21, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      I agree, what better way to go than doing what you love. Why do people think this was an ‘awful death’ he chose to be alone and presumably love his life st sea!

      • XYV

        November 23, 2017 at 4:07 pm

        You’re kidding, right? Or are you just saying that to make yourself feel better? No one wants to die like this. No family wants to recover the remains of a loved one in this state. No kid wants to remember to their father this way. This was an awful death. It was a horrific, lonely and terrifying death. If you think otherwise it’s because you’re imposing your romantic delusions on someone else. I am 100 percent certain if you died alone and in pain as the result of a hobby, your passion for that hobby wouldn’t make your death any easier.

    • Cassidy

      November 24, 2017 at 6:33 am

      I’m with you…heart attacks can be very quick, if his pain had been prolonged and severe he wouldn’t have been sitting at his desk. I think xyv is imposing romantic delusions of large loving families. No one had heard from him in a year and he wasn’t reported missing. He may have had no family or been estranged from them. He died doing what he loved.

    • zane

      February 14, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      i agree death is some what a good thing

  4. Jorell

    March 9, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    A man died Douglas. Try holding your ego in check.

  5. Jeremy

    March 8, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    I keep thinking about this story and it is terrifying! imagine being this captain? It is like the story of the Chinese woman who was found in a lift a month after it was decommissioned.

  6. Ken Major

    March 2, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Clive Cussler, your thoughts?

  7. D

    March 2, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    go read the original article on this he last contacted someone on facebook one year ago. rip sir, but this article saying adrift for seven years is nonsense.

    • Charlie Hintz

      Charlie Hintz

      March 2, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      On Monday, when this was initially posted, there was no information regarding contact made a year ago.

  8. jaybar redspoon

    March 2, 2016 at 9:53 am

    And they never found him. Give him a right burial, RIP Captain. That was a horrible way to die

  9. Joan

    March 1, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Good idea for movie, assuming they dont get too weird with it.
    RIP Captain

    • Jason

      March 2, 2016 at 7:43 am

      A movie about a dead guy floating at sea by himself sounds great. Give it a Weekend at Bernie’s kind of vibe. Think of all the shenanigans. Castaway has already been done. We don’t need another of those

      • penny

        March 6, 2016 at 7:08 pm

        eh what would the plot be, he dies and the the camera just films him as he slowly decomposes over 7 years?

        • Thor Bohlen

          May 14, 2016 at 4:10 pm

          I would think this would be a great movie, Maybe it would show him sailing at sea getting away from his problems.. or flash backs of his child hood.. and and towards the end.. he realizes its not real.. but he is a ghost on his own ship… searching his way back.. to whatever..

  10. douglasvermeeren

    March 1, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    This would be a great idea for a movie. Don’t be surprised if you see this show up in one of my projects. VISP Pictures.

    • Yenna

      August 14, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      Douglas … A man died an awful death and all you can think about is how you can profit from it. I’m keeping your information so I know what movies to avoid.

      • Col. Angus

        January 4, 2017 at 11:13 pm

        I’ll have to consult my book ‘singlehanded sailing ‘ . I’m curious as to how the boat survived half submerged at sea for 7 years . He must have liked solitude .

    • Thor Sven Ericsson

      August 19, 2016 at 5:33 am

      Douglas … A man died an awful death and all you can think about is how you can make a movie based on a true story from it. I’m keeping your information so I know what movies to watch.

    • jeccav

      November 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Apparently dying on board his boat *wasn’t* enough to protect this man from sharks. What the f**k, Douglas.

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