Finally, dry land: rescued sailors come ashore after five-month ordeal

Finally, dry land: rescued sailors come ashore after five-month ordeal
By Natalie Huet  with ASSOCIATED PRESS

The two women set sail from Hawaii to Tahiti in May, but a storm battered their boat and they drifted in the Pacific with their two dogs until a US warship rescued them.

Two American sailors who were rescued by a US warship after drifting in the Pacific for five months reached a naval base in Okinawa in Japan on Monday.

The USS Ashland rescued Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava – along with their two dogs, Zeus and Valentine – about 1,450 kilometers southeast of Japan, and brought them to America’s White Beach Naval Facility after waiting for a typhoon to pass.

The pair profusely thanked the US navy for saving their lives.

“These fine men and women behind us took us into their care, brought us under their wing, gave us safety, took care of our animals, gave us toothbrushes, things that we didn’t even think about bringing with us when we left,” Appel said.

“This is in the top ten list. In a million years, I would have never thought that I would ever be on a Navy ship, a warship, much less rescued by a warship,” she added.

Still hungry for more adventure

The two women set sail from Hawaii in May or what was supposed to be an 18-day trip to Tahiti. But a storm battered their engine and sails so badly they couldn’t stay on course and drifted aimlessly, sending unanswered distress calls for weeks.

They were thousands of kilometres in the wrong direction when a Taiwanese fishing vessel found them. From there, they managed to make a mayday call.

They said they had almost no food left on board by the time they were rescued on Wednesday (Oct. 25).

“When we saw the Navy, we were like ‘yes! Someone who can actually help us ‘. And it was great, we were just… ever so grateful, we had tears going down our eyes,” Fuiava said.

Their sailboat was abandoned at sea, but the two women hope it will be found so they can repair it. If not, Appel said they want to build an “unsinkable and unbreakable boat” and set out for Tahiti again.

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