United States women rescued after being stranded at sea for five months

Rosalie Stanley
October 31, 2017

By the time the Navy rescued them they had been lost on their sailboat for five months.

They had left Hawaii in May to travel to Tahiti, but their engine failed during a storm.

In a phone call with news media from the Ashland, Appel said they had sent a distress signal for 98 days with no response, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The USS Ashland rescued the women after a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted their crippled vessel Tuesday and alerted the U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy said in a statement released Thursday. Jennifer, a friend and their two dogs set sail from Honolulu for Tahiti in May.

"She said, 'Mom?' and I said, 'Jennifer!?' because I hadn't heard from her in like five months", she said.

The mother said the pair's water purifier had stopped working and they were down to their last gallon of water when Jennifer got it fixed. But there were no ships close enough to hear their transmissions.

"And both of them - we actually thought it was lights out", Appel said, "and they were horrific".

"I think the third night that I saw her, she asked me to go on this trip", Fuiava said, adding that she'd never sailed before.

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Miraculously, Fuiava and Appel were kept alive on a year's stock of dry goods, including oatmeal, rice and pasta.

"There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night", she said.

She and Ms Fuiava were to spend about 18 days getting to Tahiti, then another six months or so cruising the thousands of small islands that dot the South Pacific before returning to Hawaii.

The Navy is always ready to "assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation", said the Ashland's top officer Cmdr.

Although Appel has been sailing the Hawaiian islands for 10 years and spent two years preparing for this voyage, she acknowledged she and Fuiava, a novice sailor, may not have prepared as well as they could have.

They made a decision to continue on their journey, using the ship's sail as part of their bid to reach land. "I couldn't have been more grateful paying taxes to the US Navy, who would honor us by going out of their way and holding up national security issues to save two women and two dogs who erroneously ended up on the other side of the planet".

"When I saw the grey ship on the Horizon, I was just shaking, I was so happy, I knew we were going to live", Appel said. The women will remain on board the USS Ashland until its next port of call. "So she had several problems that caused her to end up drifting in the ocean", the elder Appel said.

"There's different sunrises and sunsets every day", Fuiava said.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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