Storms, Sharks Tested Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months

'There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2017 3:47 PM CDT
Storms, Sharks Tested Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months
Tasha Fuiava climbs a ladder to board the USS Ashland after the Navy ship rescued two Honolulu women and their dogs after being lost at sea for several months while trying to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti.   (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/U.S. Navy via AP)

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava's five months lost at sea included three major storms, two shark attacks, and a broken water purifier. The women, who were rescued by a US Navy ship on Tuesday, say there were "absolutely" times they thought they would die on their 50-foot sailboat, ABC News reports. Fuiava and Appel gave an account of their ordeal while aboard the USS Ashland, where they will remain until its next port of call, according to the AP. They set sail from Honolulu for Tahiti—a trip of 2,600 miles—in May, but problems started immediately. A structural issue with the mast limited them to sailing under 5 knots and then a storm with nearly hurricane-force winds and 25-foot waves battered them for two days, leaving them without a functional engine just a month into their trip.

Appel and Fuiava endured two more storms and "two different shark attacks," which Appel calls "horrific." Groups of sharks would repeatedly slap their tails against the boat. "We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught," CNN quotes Appel as saying. Appel describes their time adrift at sea as "very depressing" and "very hopeless." "There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night," she says. Fortunately, the pair had brought along a year's worth of food, a water purifier (which broke and needed to be repaired), and Appel's two dogs, who they say kept them from giving in to depression. Fuiva tried to find the positive: "There's love, and there are different sunrises and sunsets every day." The sailboat was spotted Tuesday by a Taiwanese fishing vessel 900 miles off Japan—5,000 miles from Tahiti. (Read more lost at sea stories.)

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