Two Women Sailors Rescued After Being Adrift in the Pacific Ocean for Five Month

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Two female sailors who set out to cross the Pacific Ocean last May have been found and rescued after being adrift for 5 months at sea. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set out from Hawaii for Tahiti on May 3 but have been missing for weeks. The pair were found on the open ocean last week, and arrived at a U.S. military base in Japan today.

Appel and Fuiava were sailing on a 50-foot ship called the Sea Nymph on what should have been an 18-day to Tahiti. But, a major storm swamped their engine and broke the mast of the vessel early on, leaving them with no way to consistently sail in any direction. To make matters worse, the ladies say that they lost their phone overboard on the first day of the journey and it appears that their ship had only a short range radio for sending out distress signals. As a result, they were unable to call for help – despite trying for 93 days straight – and were left drifting aimlessly on the Pacific.

Late last week, a fishing ship from Taiwan found them and began towing the Sea Nymph, which reportedly only damaged the ship further. But, Appel was able to swim to the rescue boat and use their radio to make another call for help, which was answered by the USS Ashalnd, which soon rendezvoused with the fishing ship, gathered the women up, and waited out a typhoon before delivering them to the White Base Naval Facility in southern Japan today.

The two women brought their two dogs with them on the trip, and all are said to be healthy and fine. But, they were beginning to get dangerously low on food, as their supplies began to dwindle following the long weeks at sea. At one point, they ran out of dog food, prompting Appel and Fuiava to share their dwindling supplies with the dogs as well. When they were rescued, more than 90% of their supplies had run out.

Reportedly, the two women had all-but given up hope of being rescued. At one point, they had been able to sail the ship within 726 nautical miles of Hawaii, where they had hoped to find a deep-sea fishing ship that could lend them assistance. But, the tides and winds pushed them away once again. When they were found the Nymph was about 900 miles (1448 km) south of Japan, and way off course.

Appel and Fuiava now admit that they were not adequately prepared for the journey to Tahiti. Neither is an experienced sailor, which means that they are extremely lucky to be alive. Losing their phone overboard within the first day was a rookie move as well, and the device could have helped them avoid all of those weeks adrift at sea. Thankfully, they are safe and sound and preparing to come home. They of course have quite a story to share.

Kraig Becker