2 Americans And Their Dogs Rescued After Being Lost 5 Months in Pacific Ocean

October 27, 2017 Updated: October 5, 2018    

It was a truly joyous morning for Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiaba, and their two dogs when a U.S. Navy ship emerged over the horizon on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The four of them had been lost at sea for almost five months.

Unscathed, they were taken aboard of USS Ashland where they’ll remain until the ship’s next port of call. And they’ll have quite a story to tell.

The two Honoluluans embarked on a trip to Tahiti back in Spring. But due to bad weather, their engine failed on May 30. They tried to reach Tahiti by sail, but got lost. About two months into their journey they started to send out daily distress calls. They were, however, too far out in the ocean for anybody to receive the signals.

They had water purifiers on board and food to last them a year, like oats, pasta, and rice—that’s how they survived.

Finally, on Oct. 24, a Taiwanese fishing vessel discovered them some 900 miles southeast of Japan. That means they ended up over 3,000 miles west of Hawaii, instead of 2,000 miles south, where Tahiti lies.

A map showing the position of Honolulu, Tahiti, and the approximate place where Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba were found. (Screenshot via Google My Maps)

The fishing vessel contacted Coast Guard Sector Guam who then coordinated with Taipei Rescue Coordination Center, the Japan Coordination Center, and the Joint Coordination Center in Honolulu to mobilize a rescue.

Needless to say, the mariners were happy to see the Navy. The dogs were barking and one of the women was blowing kisses to the Ashland as it approached around 10:30 a.m.

“I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief,” said Appel, according to a Navy press release.

Tasha Fuiaba, an American mariner who had been sailing for five months on a damaged sailboat, climbs the ladder to board the USS Ashland. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay)

The Ashland crew checked out the women’s boat, determined it was unseaworthy, and brought them on board together with their dogs. They received food and medical attention.

Sailors help Zeus, one of two dogs who were accompanying two mariners who were aided by the USS Ashland. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay)

“The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, Ashland commanding officer.

USS Ashland Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay)