Two US sailors and their dogs rescued after five months at sea

Posted October 31, 2017

The US Navy came to their rescue as they were stranded on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for almost five months.

Appel and Fuiava set sail for Tahiti on May 23, but had an engine casualty amid bad weather a week into their voyage.

"There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night", said Appel from the USS Ashland, the U.S. navy vessel that rescued them once the Taiwanese fishing boat passed on the distress signal.

They were found about 930 miles southeast of Japan, thousands of miles from Tahiti.

Sailors help Zeus, one of two dogs who were accompanying two mariners. "I just had no idea it would be more than five months before she would reach shore so I was anxious", Joyce Appel said. But there were no ships close enough to hear their transmissions.

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"They said pack every square inch of your boat with food, and if you think you need a month, pack six months, because you have no idea what could possibly happen out there", Appel said. "I knew she didn't even know the phone number here", she said.

They survived on water purifiers and a years supply of dry food.

She also said the ordeal was life-changing, Hawaii News Now reported: "There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day, if tonight is your last night".

The 50-foot "Sea Nymph", now crippled, drifted thousands of miles off course.

The fishermen contact the US Coast Guard, which alerted the USS Ashland stationed in Sasebo, Japan. Steven Wasson, the commanding officer of the USS Ashland.

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"When she got on the telephone, she was very enthusiastic and she just sounded great", Appel said. They often had to get creative, such as when two of their watermakers (a device that turns salt water into drinking water) failed, and they combined working pieces from each of the machines to make a functioning one. "I couldn't have been more grateful paying taxes to the US Navy, who would honor us by going out of their way and holding up national security issues to save two women and two dogs who erroneously ended up on the other side of the planet". "So she had several problems that caused her to end up drifting in the ocean", the elder Appel said.

"When I saw the grey ship on the horizon, I was just shaking, I was so happy, I knew we were going to live", Appel says.

They chose to continue on their journey, using the ship's sail as part of their bid to reach land.

"You may as well use the time you have to do something beneficial", Ms Fuiava said.

"You may as well be doing something you enjoy when you're doing it, right?"

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