2 women describe 'hopeless' months lost at sea before their rescue
OKINAWA, JAPAN (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Hawaii women and their dogs have been rescued after spending months lost at sea in the Pacific Ocean.
The pair, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, survived off of water purifiers and a year's worth of dry food, like pasta and oatmeal.
And they made distress calls every day — for 98 days — in hopes that someone would rescue them. They were rescued after making their 99th call.
"It was very depressing and it was very hopeless, but it's the only thing you can do so you do what you can with what you have. You have no other choice," Appel said, in a phone interview Thursday.
She added that the ordeal has been life-changing.
"There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day. If tonight is your last night. If the storm that's approaching is going to bring down the rig."
It wasn't until Wednesday that they were found: Boaters on a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted them and they were finally brought to safety, according to the U.S. Navy.
Their ordeal all started in the spring when the two embarked on a journey from Hawaii to Tahiti.
On May 30, their sailboat's motor failed during severe weather, but the women continued on because they believed they could eventually make it to land.
Two months later, they decided to issue distress calls on a daily basis — with no luck.
Finally, on Oct. 24, the Taiwanese fishing vessel discovered the sailboat about 900 miles southeast of Japan. The boaters made contact with the Coast Guard Sector Guam, along with others, including the Joint Coordinator Center in Honolulu.
Appel's mother, Joyce, told The Associated Press on Thursday that she never gave up hope that her daughter would be found.
The 75-year-old Houston woman said she answered the phone as she always does Thursday, wondering who wanted to sell her something, when she heard her daughter's voice on the other end of the line.
Appel said her daughter ran into trouble soon after she left Hawaii on the sailboat she had been living on for a couple years: Her cellphone was lost overboard just a day after setting sail. Her troubles continued when she lost her engines and sustained damage to her mast, the mother says.
The Japan-based USS Ashland, which was in the area on a routine deployment, made its way to the fishing vessel and brought Appel, Fuiava and their two dogs to safety.
They remain on board the Ashland – where they're being provided with food and medical assistance – until the ship's next port of call.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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