Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava said in an interview that they weren't lost at sea and the Taiwanese trawler who spotted them weren't trying to rescue them but kill them instead
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the two women rescued by the US Navy after spending five months lost have sea trying to sail from Hawaii to Haiti, have given an interview to NBC Today programme claiming that in fact they were never lost in the first place.
They also said that the Taiwanese commercial fishing vessel that spotted them in the waters posed a danger to them.
“We were never ‘lost at sea.’ We knew where we were the entire time,” Jennifer Appel said.
“While the media portrayed a rescue with the Taiwanese fishing vessel, they were actually the reason why we called for help.
“The Taiwanese fishing vessel was not planning to rescue us,” she added. “They tried to kill us during the night.”. They pair that the boat purposely rammed against their 50ft yacht, the Sea Nymph.
It was only at this stage that the two felt in danger and decided to alert the US Coast Guard. However, despite fearing the Taiwanese sailors meant them harm, the two women didn’t use their EPIRB but a satellite phone on the trawler.
“I was able to get on a surfboard and get on their boat, make an actual phone call. Because no one spoke English, it was easier and safer for me to relay the information to the U.S. Coast Guard-Guam sector that we were in danger without them realizing what we were saying. If I had thrown the EPIRB at that point, he [the captain] would have known.” claimed Houston born Appel, 46.
Presenter Matt Lauer questioned them about two other claims that they had made. The first was that they had lost their engine and damaged the mast during a strong storm, which was never recorded by the National Weather Service.
“…I believe that the storm advisory that the U.S. Coast Guard did say that they put out … was anticipated to be smaller than some of the downdrafts that we saw,” former landscape architect Appel told Lauter “If you were there, you would say the same thing I did. It really felt a lot bigger.”
Despite the weather conditions and the fact that Appel said ‘Tasha if I make a mistake we are gonna die tonight”, Fuiava, 26, who did not have sailing experience before, said she is a heavy sleeper and slept throughout the ordeal. “That didn’t phase me” she added.
When asked about their statement that their sailing boat was attacked by tiger sharks in another incident, a behaviour that experts say is unusual for the fish, Jennifer Appel replied: “The sharks had been telling us, you’re in our living room, and you’re not leaving fast enough. And we didn’t realize that was what we were being told until too late,”.
When presenter Matt Lauer pointed out that there’s been criticism surrounding the series of event, Appel hit back saying that it was the US Navy who had come to their rescue that had contacted the media, not them but that they “were enjoying the ride”.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava spoke to reporters about being rescued by USS Ashland on Wednesday (25 October) after spending five months lost at sea with their two dogs, Zeus and Valentine.
They were supposed to sail for 18 days from Hawaii to Haiti when they lost their engine and the mast was damaged during a storm.
They also said that in another incident their boat was attacked by tiger sharks.
The women tried to make distress calls but they claim they were too far out to sea for the signal to be picked up on land. They also claim that they saw no passing vessel during the five months, until they were spotted by a Taiwanese commercial fishing boat.
The US Navy said that Appel, Fuiava and their dogs were in remarkable conditions when they were found, despite their ordeal.
On Friday (27 October) the pair spoke to reporters from a US Navy base in southern Japan.
“We knew we weren’t going to make it,” Jennifer Appel said. “So that’s when we started making distress calls. We were hoping that one of our friends who likes to go deep sea fishing and taking people out might have gone past the 400-mile mark and might have cruised near where we would be.”
Appel and Fuiava said they survived for five months thanks to the extra supplies of food and water they had taken with them. However, they shared them with their two dogs and soon they found themselves running out of things to eat and drink.
“When I saw the gray ship on the horizon, I was just shaking,” said Appel “I was ready to cry, I was so happy. I knew we were going to live.”
Appel’s yacht, 50 foot Sea Nymph, has been abandoned at sea but she hopes it will be found and she will be able to repair it.
The woman has been sailing around the Hawaiian Islands for 10 years, however Tasha Fuiava had no sailing experience prior to their ill-fated trip.
The incident seems to have left the women undeterred and according to Appel they plan to do the same sailing trip again next year.
“We still never got to see the 20,000 islands, so I think that would be the most fantastic trip for May of next spring,” she said.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava from Honolulu were sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti with their dogs Zeus and Valentine, when they lost their engine. The two women tried to carry on sailing, but ended up getting lost at sea for 5 months
They were rescued by the US Navy on Wednesday (25 October) after a Taiwanese trawler spotted them about 900 miles south-east of Japan and alerted the US coast guard. USS Ashland were on the scene the next day.
Appel and Fuiava had been lost at sea since 30 May. They had tried to make distress calls but they were too far out to sea and the signals were not picked up on land. There were no nearby craft to detect the calls at sea either.
The two women survived thanks to the water and supplies they had packed, which were intended to last a year.
Appel said, upon being rescued: “They saved our lives, the pride and smiles we had when we saw [USS Ashland] on the horizon was pure relief.”
Appel and Fuiava were given medical treatment, food and a place to sleep aboard USS Ashland.
“The US navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” Cmdr Steven Wasson, the commanding officer of the USS Ashland, saying.
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On Thursday morning Jennifer Appel called her mother, after not speaking to her for the entirety her five months ordeal, The Guardian reports.
Jennifer Appel left for her trip on her yacht Sea Nymph on 3 May, her mother said, but soon after the two women weren’t able to speak because Jennifer Appel’s phone was lost overboard the first day she was at sea.
“Various things on her boat broke, the mast broke and the engine wouldn’t start when she needed power. So she had several problems that caused her to end up drifting in the ocean,” Jennifer Appel’s mother Joyce said.
Joyce alerted the authorities 10 days after her daughter left for Tahiti. “The Coast Guard, in Hawaii, did a search and rescue effort,” she said.
The Guardian says that during that time Joyce Appel moved house and had a new phone number and worried her daughter may not be able to reach her. “I waited and waited and waited to see when I would hear from her. I knew she didn’t even know the phone number here,” she said.
“I had hope all along, she is very resourceful and she’s curious and as things break she tries to repair them, she doesn’t sit and wait for the repairman to get there, so I knew the same thing would be true of the boat.”