Questions Emerge as Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months Reveal They Didn’t Use Emergency Beacon
Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiava, and their two dogs have finally stepped foot on land after being rescued by the Navy off the coast of Japan on October 25. The women had been lost at sea for almost five months; When they were found, they said their boat was thrown off course by a tropical storm back in May on what was meant to be a one-month trip from Hawaii to Tahiti. That’s just one of many details of their story authorities are now questioning, the Associated Press reports.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Appel and Fuiava told ABC News had the USS Ashland not rescued them when they did, “[they] would have been dead within 24 hours.” After examining their boat though, the Coast Guard found the women had an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) onboard that they did not activate at any point. Had they done so, it would’ve alerted satellite rescue services immediately.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle told the AP “We asked why during this course of time did they not activate the EPIRB. She had stated they never felt like they were truly in distress, like in a 24-hour period they were going to die.” The women say they continually sent out other types of distress signals over the course of the 98 days they were missing.
According to PEOPLE, Appel is an experienced sailor who’d stocked the boat with a year’s worth of food in case of emergency. Their stash of food was about 90 percent depleted at the time of their rescue.
University of Louisiana professor and avid sailor Linus Wilson told the magazine it was “very irresponsible” for Appel not to check the weather before embarking on this kind of sail. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also said they have no record of a tropical storm occurring in the region at the time the women say they were struck.
Follow Tess on Twitter.