Ship with sailors rescued at sea reaches US base in Okinawa

A U.S. Navy boat carrying two sailors it appeared from their storm-battered sailboat in the Pacific docked Monday in an American naval base in Japan.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava were standing together with the USS Ashland’s commanding officer and others high over the bridgeway when the ship arrived at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, five days later it picked up the girls and their two dogs out of their boat, 900 miles southeast of Japan.

Appel and Fuiava had left Honolulu on May 3 aboard Appel vessel the Sea Nymph for what was presumed to be an 18-day visit to Tahiti.

Storms damaged sails and the mast so poorly and flooded the engine, they could not create enough wind power to remain on course. They sent distress calls that were unanswered for 98 successive days and drifted aimlessly.

Centre, Jennifer Appel, raises her arms. At left is Tasha Fuiava, and in the Ashland’s Command Master Chief Gary Wise.     (AP Photo/Koji Ueda)

They have been thousands of kilometers in the incorrect direction when a fishing vessel found them. Appel swam to the Taiwanese vessel to create a mayday call, although Towing it was damaged by the sailboat farther.

They had run out of food for the dogs, and the girl began sharing their own, leaving their food supply 90 percent depleted by the time.

The USS Ashland on Wednesday picked the girls, in addition to the dogs Valentine and Zeus, all four up looking remarkably fit for having been missing at sea for almost six months.

Appel told reporters on Friday that they had been starting to think they were completely out of luck when they saw the U.S. Navy ship chugging supporting them.

“When I saw the grey boat on the horizon, I was just shaking,” she said then. “I was prepared to cry, I was so pleased. I knew we were going to live.”

Though Appel has been sailing the Hawaiian islands for ten decades and spent two years preparing for this voyage, she confessed she and Fuiava, a novice sailor, might not have ready and they might have.

Their survival was credited by Appel to the veteran sailors in Hawaii who had cautioned them to prepare for their journey in part.

“They said pack every square inch of your boat with food, and if you believe you need a month, package half an hour, since you’ve got no idea what could possibly happen out there,” Appel said. “And the natives in Honolulu really gave us good advice. We’re here.”

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