US Navy rescues two women lost at sea for five months

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PACIFIC OCEAN Tasha Fuiaba an American mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat climbs the accommodation ladder to board the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland. Ashland operati

Women lost at sea for months with pet dogs rescued from 'unseaworthy' boat

With no land in sight by the end of July, the pair started to issue distress calls - but being too far from any other vessels or stations, those calls went unanswered.

Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs were found Wednesday, drifting about 900 miles southeast of Japan, a Navy statement said.

The women were given medical assessments and will remain aboard the USS Ashland until its next port of call, the Navy said.

Asked if they ever thought they might not survive, Appel said they would not be human if they did not.

A sailor greets Zeus the dog with his owner, Tasha Fuiaba, on the USS Ashland. "It was actually quite mindblowing and incredibly humbling".

All four looked remarkably fit, and Appel credited that to veteran sailors who had warned them to prepare well for the voyage.

The two set sail on May 3 and ran into trouble nearly immediately, Ms Appel said, hitting a storm that pounded their vessel with 80-to-112-kilometre-per-hour winds for three days as they travelled the Hawaiian islands.

But she acknowledged that perhaps she and Fuiava, a novice at sea, weren't as ready for the crossing as they could have been.

"I had no idea what I was getting myself into", she said.

Appel said she was reminded of a conversation about sailing she had with an acquaintance some 10 years ago.

They lived off a year's supply of pasta and oatmeal and the Navy vessel came just in time.

They chose to continue, but their engine went out toward the end of the month.

The women sent distress calls for 98 days and got nothing but silence back in return. They continued on anyway, thinking the vessel wasn't that badly damaged.

"There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day", Appel added.

As the months passed, the pair discovered they were going through their food much faster than they had anticipated. Ms Appel and Ms Fuiaba's dogs were also brought aboard during the rescue. 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.

The fishermen had difficulty trying to tow the pair and alerted the US Coast Guard.

"It was very depressing and very hopeless, but it's the only thing you can do, so you do what you can do", she told reporters, according to the Associated Press. She said she hadn't heard from her daughter in five months because she lost her phone on the first day of her trip. "And she said, 'Yes, Mom, ' and that was really exciting". They said the decision to pack lots of food and a water purifier saved their lives. The frustrating and stressful circumstance-as well as the cramped quarters-led to shouting matches between the two, but they say having the dogs helped to relieve the anger.

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