John Bartlett from Netflix’s Nyad: Cause of death and more about the shipping navigator

Rhys Ifans as John Bartlett in Nyad.
Rhys Ifans as John Bartlett in Nyad. Pic credit: Netflix

Nyad is a surprisingly riveting Netflix film about the greatness of being stubborn in the face of every tidal wave, storm, and venomous jellyfish. It also possesses one of the most endearing characters, John Bartlett.

In the film, competitive swimmer Diana Nyad seeks a sea navigator to help her confront the unpredictable waters between Cuba and Florida. She and Bonnie (Jodie Foster) find Bartlett, a man who is a straight shooter and does not tolerate fools.

He is also portrayed by House of the Dragon actor Rhys Ifans, who is memorable in every role he plays.

A third of the way through the movie, Bartlett reveals to Bonnie that he is sick. However, he does not explain his ailment.

Ever since, viewers have been curious about what led to his eventual passing.

Here is John Bartlett’s cause of death and other things about the beloved sea navigator from Netflix’s inspiring film, Nyad.

John Bartlett’s cause of death

According to Diana Nyad’s book Find A Way, the swimmer says the 66-year-old sailor died of heart failure while sleeping.

Nothing is stated about whether he had an illness that caused it, but one might presume he had heart disease. That said, there are no listed illnesses publicly that verify that was the cause.

His obituary verifies he passed while sleeping and is loaded with many heartfelt details, including that Bartlett was married for 21 years to Elke Margaret Thuerling.

The obituary does not mention children; however, it states he was survived by three sisters with many nieces and nephews.

More about John Bartlett from Nyad

Further reading his obituary, it’s clear Bartlett was a man of many gifts and talents.

The lengthy detailing of his life says he was skilled at carpentry, painting, and meditation. He also played the guitar and flute and separately played the bass guitar for a band called Electric Cowboy.

The 66-year-old sea navigator also designed boats, including a water vehicle described as “a unique 70′ power outrigger as a Mothership for sea kayaking.”

His skill for understanding ocean patterns was depicted well in an NYT article, where he discusses the knowledge of currents and how they helped Diana Nyad travel fast while swimming.

In the interview, Bartlett explains, “Everyone is saying, Wow, she was going fast; how is that possible? The currents were going fast.” He adds, “That’s how the speed increased; the direction of the current was better.”

While John Bartlett may have left this world, his memory has been immortalized honorably in the Netflix film.

Nyad is now streaming on Netflix.

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