On Wednesday, the dock landing ship USS Ashland rescued two woman sailors and their two dogs from their sailboat roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan. The sailboat had been spotted by a passing Taiwanese fishing boat, which alerted the navy.
The two sailors, Jennifer Appel and Natasha “Tasha” Fuiava, had attempted to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti and had been lost at sea for almost 5 months. Their engine had been crippled in a storm and their mast was damaged. Nevertheless, the sailors had a years worth of food and a watermaker aboard, so that both were well-nourished and in good health when rescued.
ABC News reports: On May 3, Appel, an experienced sailor, and Fuiva, a sailing novice, set sail from Honolulu aboard the 50-foot “Sea Nymph” bound for Tahiti, 2,600 miles to the south. Also aboard were Appel’s two dogs, Valentine and Zeus.
Early into their voyage, they realized that a structural failure on their sailing mast would impact their voyage and limit their sailing speed to 4 to 5 knots.
Soon after that, they endured an intense storm with almost hurricane winds and 25-foot waves that buffeted their sailboat for two days. The storm left their engine flooded, but they still attempted to sail to Tahiti before they drifted westward in the Pacific.
So began a five-month journey across the Pacific that was at times depressing, reflective and frightful.
But while well-fed and nourished, the experience was “very depressing and very helpless” said Appel who noted that “you do what you can and what you have, you have no other choice.”
“You’re alive, you’re fed, you have water, the boys are happy and there’s love, and there are different sunrises and sunsets every day,” said Faiuva.
Thanks to Phil Leon and Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post