Saturday, 25 November, 2017

Sailors lost at sea since May finally step onto dry land

US Navy rescues women 2 Americans and Their Dogs Rescued After 5 Months at Sea
Hilda Schwartz | 31 October, 2017, 00:44

Two sailors and their dogs have been rescued by the US Navy after more than five months lost at sea in the vast Pacific Ocean.

Appel and Fuiava set sail for Tahiti on May 23, but had an engine casualty amid bad weather a week into their voyage.

Jennifer Appel and Natasha Fuiava, known as Tasha, were rescued after a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted them about 1,500 kilometres south-east of Japan, well off their planned course, and alerted the United States coast guard.

Two months into their trip, well after they were scheduled to arrive in Tahiti, the women began making distress calls, but there were no vessels close and they were too far out to sea for the signals to be detected on land.

"I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours", Appel said.

"I went downstairs with the boys and we basically laid huddled on the floor, and I told them not to bark because the sharks could hear us breathing", Appel said.

The first occurred one night when the Sea Nymph drifted into a pack of tiger sharks, Appel said. "The two continued the calls daily, but they were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations to receive them", the US Navy said.

"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", Appel said.

They survived by using water purifiers and a year's worth of food they had brought, such as oatmeal, pasta and rice. "There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night".

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In Sasebo, Japan, the USS Ashland was near the area on routine deployment.

Appel described the five months lost at sea as "very depressing" and "very hopeless".

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.

They said they have no fear of getting back in the water for some more sailing.

The pair and their dogs will remain on board the USS Ashland until it reaches its next port. "The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief", said Appel. "So she had several problems that caused her to end up drifting in the ocean", the elder Appel said.

They thought they could continue on with just their sails, but the rigging on the mast was damaged and they were unable to make any headway.

Speaking about their rescue, Jennifer Appel explained: "I'm grateful for their service to our country".

"You may as well be doing something you enjoy when you're doing it, right?"

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