American sailors who were lost at sea for nearly six months have touched solid ground for the first time since May 3.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava landed at the U.S. naval base on Okinawa, Japan, on Monday, completing their rescue after an 18-day trip turned into a months-long nightmare.
The pair had planned to sail from Honolulu to Tahiti with their dogs aboard the 50-foot Sea Nymph, until a Pacific storm flooded their engine and damaged their sails.
Going off reduced power, the friends — who admitted that they were ill-prepared — ended up far off course, straying thousands of miles from their destination.
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A Taiwanese fishing boat found them 900 miles off the coast of Japan on Tuesday, with the U.S. Navy’s USS Ashland then picking them up and taking them to the base.
Appel, an experienced sailor, said that the pair had packed far in excess of the food they would need, having planned to travel around the South Pacific after the 18 days to Tahiti.
She noted that their supply was 90% depleted by the time they were rescued, and that she and Fuiava, a sailing novice, had been sharing some of their sustenance with canine pals Zeus and Valentine.
At one point, the pair turned back and reported being near the Hawaiian island of Oahu, but could not make it within range of someone who could help.
They also said that the Sea Nymph came under attack by sharks, which would ram the vessel.
Appel still wants to make the trip to Tahiti, possibly as early as next spring.
With News Wire Services
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