NOT A THREE HOUR TOUR, BUT A FIVE MONTH LONG NIGHTMARE ALONE ON THE OCEAN
If you needed a real feel good story this is a nice fix. Two women along with their two dogs were rescued last week after almost five months stranded on their boat in the Pacific Ocean. To add real spice to an already all-too-real story, they were in shark infested waters. The two women, Tasha Fuiava and Jennifer Appel, had set off for Tahiti this past May 3rd. In a dark comedy of errors and terrors, they lost their phone overboard the first day and then suffered both engine failure as well as a broken mast.
TWO WOMEN AND THEIR DOGS SET OFF FOR TAHITI, END UP RESCUED SOUTH OF JAPAN SURROUNDED BY SHARKS
Both women hail from Honolulu, Hawaii. After being adrift for so long, they were at last spotted by a Taiwanese fishing boat about 900 miles southeast of Japan. Once spotted, the 610-foot Navy ship the USS Ashland embarked to find them which they did, arriving to the rescue last week. It’s a cautionary tale that redundancy is the key to survival in the wild, especially on the ocean. Backup communications would have made a huge difference, but this scary story came to a happy, if weathered, conclusion.
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“I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives,” Jennifer Appel said in a statement put out by the Navy. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”
How in the world did the two women and their dogs survive for so long without access to fresh water? Fortunately, they had water purifiers as well as a year’s supply of dry food, including stable staples like pasta, rice, and oatmeal.
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But the trouble started brewing for the women on May 30th, within a month after first taking off from Hawaii. They were confronted by a patch of bad weather yet continued on anyway. They endured five months waiting for help, sending out distress calls nobody could hear.
“It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said via a phone call with the media put together by the US Navy. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.”
But aside from their food concerns, the most significant was the sharks. Their boat was constantly surrounded.
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WOMEN AND DOGS SURVIVED WITH STABLE FOOD SUPPLIES AND A WATER PURIFIER
“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel related on the recent phone call. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.”
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The Taiwanese fishing vessel that stumbled upon the women quickly alerted the US Coast Guard in Guam who then established that the USS Ashland was in the best position to assist quickly.
The two women were immediately brought aboard the USS Ashland and received medical assistance. They stayed aboard the ship until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call.
The Navy also released videos of the rescue last week showing the approach to the damaged boat and the dramatically excited reactions from both the women (not to mention the two dogs) on board.
“The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” Cmdr. Steven Wasson, Ashland commanding officer, vowed in a statement.