Women rescued by US navy after five months adrift at sea admit they weren’t prepared

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava were rescued 900 miles off the coast of Japan on Tuesday

Hannah Lawrence
Saturday 28 October 2017 16:34
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava have said they were not entirely prepared for their trip
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava have said they were not entirely prepared for their trip

The two women who were rescued by the US navy after spending five months adrift at sea have admitted they weren’t prepared, with one of them having never sailed.

Jennifer Appel said she and sailing partner, Tasha Fuiava, didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they set off to sail the 2,700 miles from Hawaii to Tahiti in May.

Ms Appel said: "I had no idea what I was getting myself into. When I asked Natasha, I told her I have no idea what's going to happen out there and she said, 'That's OK, I've never sailed."'

The pair were rescued on Tuesday, along with their two dogs, five months after they embarked on their journey. They were found when a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted their boat 900 miles off Japan and thousands of miles in the wrong direction from Tahiti.

Speaking of the rescue, Ms Appel said: “I had tears in my eyes.”

Ms Appel and Ms Fuiava set sail on May 3 and ran into trouble almost immediately when their vessel was battered by a three-day storm.

After their engine went out at the end of May the pair tried to continue with only their sails but they were unable to make any headway due to their mast being damaged from the storm. Instead they drifted in the middle of the Pacific ocean for months sending out a distress signal every day for 98 days and trying to hail down passing ships.

Speaking about their time at sea Ms Appel told of a night when a group of tiger sharks attacked the vessel.

"We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught," she said.

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

She said the pair owed their survival over the five months to the advice of sailors in Honolulu.

"They said pack every square inch of your boat with food, and if you think you need a month, pack six months, because you have no idea what could possibly happen out there," she said.

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