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Voyage To Tahiti Goes Awry


  • Voyage To Tahiti Goes Awry

    Two civilian mariners were rescued at sea by a U.S. Navy ship after being stranded in the Pacific Ocean for almost five months.

    The two mariners were well off course: They left Honolulu on their sailboat in the spring, bound for Tahiti, 2,600 miles away in the South Pacific, but were rescued in the western Pacific 900 miles southeast of Japan.

    Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba, both from Honolulu, and their two dogs were rescued on Wednesday by the USS Ashland (LSD 48), an amphibious transport dock ship.

    During a spell of bad weather on May 30, their sailboat's engine stopped running for good. But the pair continued sailing toward Tahiti, believing they could make it to land.

    Two months into their voyage, they began issuing daily distress radio calls. But there were no ships close enough to receive the messages.

    On Tuesday a Taiwanese fishing vessel discovered the pair 900 miles from Japan, nearly 5,000 miles from their planned destination.

    The vessel reached out to the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam for assistance, and it was determined that the Ashland was in the best position to pick up the stranded mariners.

    The Ashland reached the sailboat Tuesday morning, and after the craft was assessed as unseaworthy, Appel and Fuiaba were taken aboard. They were given medical checkups, food and berthing arrangements on the ship because they will remain on the Ashland until its next port of call.

    "I'm grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the Navy] on the horizon was pure relief," said Appel.

    Appel said they survived for so long at sea thanks to the water purifiers on the sailboat and the year's worth of food they had on board, including oatmeal, pasta and rice.

    "The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation," said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, the Ashland's commanding officer.


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    A bit more information via KHON news in Honolulu CLICKY

    Two distressed mariners from Honolulu were rescued after sailing for five months on a damaged boat.
    Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set sail from Hawaii to Tahiti this spring with their two dogs.
    On May 30, the boat’s engine died during bad weather. They continued on, believing they could make it to land.

    Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began to issue daily distress calls. But no other vessels or shore stations were near enough to hear them.
    Appel said they survived by bringing water purifiers and over a year’s worth of food on board, primarily in the form of dry goods such as oatmeal, pasta and rice.

    “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” she said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.”
    Both described a chilling experience with sharks surrounding the sailboat.
    “We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.”

    “You can’t get any help at all because you’re in the middle of nowhere, and if it falls apart around you, you’re swimming, and you’re shark bait,” said Fuiava.
    On Oct. 24,*they were discovered 900 miles southeast of Japan by a Taiwanese fishing vessel.
    The vessel contacted Coast Guard Sector Guam who then coordinated with Taipei Rescue Coordination Center, the Japan Coordination Center, and the Joint Coordination Center in Honolulu to help.

    The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland, based in Sasebo, Nagasaki, responded and brought the women and their dogs on board by 1:18 p.m.
    “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief,” said Appel. “Thank God we’ve been rescued. I had tears in my eyes.”
    The mariners will remain on board until Ashland’s next port of call.

    Even a bit more info via AP HERE!
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