WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Two amateur sailors from Hawaii who were adrift on a damaged sailboat in the Pacific for months finally reached solid ground on Monday.
- The two women were rescued by USS Ashland and were brought to America’s White Beach Naval Facility based in southern Japan.
- Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava with their two dogs were found about 1,450 kilometers (900 miles) southeast of Japan and narrated their “unbelievable” adventure.
The two American sailors said they sailed from Honolulu on May 3 aboard the Sea Nymph, aboard Appel’s 15-meter (50-foot) vessel. They were heading for Tahiti, a trip that will take them about 18 days. According to the two, they encountered a savage storm with waves as high as 50 feet. It flooded their engine, damaging the starter and mast that it was impossible to stay on course.
“We knew we weren’t going to make it. So that’s when we started making distress calls,” Appel said.
According to the two women, they had brought enough food to last them a year. But the supply was dwindling fast because they needed to share with the two dogs, Zeus and Valentine. The two recalled that a pack of tiger sharks found them one day and started striking the boat as if they were hunting. The two and the dogs gathered on the floor below deck.
After almost six months adrift, they were “Wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night,” Appel said.
On Tuesday, a Taiwanese fishing boat found them and Apel said she was able to swim to the fishing vessel and made one last mayday call. And by Wednesday, the U.S. Navy had found them.
“The crew of the USS Ashland saved our lives, not from the ocean, but from the vessel that was trying to render assistance to us. Had they not been able to locate us, we would have been dead within 24 hours,”Appel told reporters.
Their story was treated with skepticism. A spokesman from the Coast Guard told the AP that the two women had an emergency beacon. Phillip R. Johnson, a retired Coast Guard Office who supervised search and rescue operations, said that the women would have been found sooner had they used it.
“We asked why during this course of time they did not activate the EPIRB,” Tara Molle, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Office 2nd Class, told the AP. “She had stated they never felt like they were truly in distress, like in a 24-hour period they were going to die.”
They also said they faced a storm on the night of May 3rd but the National Weather Service recorded no such storm around that time. Also, when they were found, both women and both dogs were looking healthy despite being lost at sea for nearly six months boy do those dogs deserve a doggy stroller. The Coast Guard is reviewing the case but there is no criminal investigation at this point. Source: The Washington Post