‘It was simpler at sea’: Sailors rescued in Pacific grapple with skepticism at home

3 months, 13 days ago

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava say they miss life in their sailboat as they face doubts from sailing experts over their narratives of giant blizzards and shark attacks

Three weeks after being plucked from the middle of the ocean by a navy ship, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava say they wish they could just go back to sea.

Their sailboat, Sea Nymph, on which they say they were adrift in the Pacific for five months, is now floating abandoned somewhere off the coast of Asia. Their narratives of huge cyclones and giant shark attacks are under topic by expert boaters around the world. And their tale has received so much attention that some of Appel’s family members in Texas don’t want her back home.

” It astonished me that the bad press started immediately ,” Appel told the Guardian in a recent phone interview.” Because this is actually a feelgood story .”

The wayward sailors and their two puppies have now washed up in New York, after being flown there for an appearance on the Today demonstrate. But they say they are short on fund and anxious to find their ship or get another one.

Fuiava, who satisfied Appel last December, just a few months before the trip-up, said that rather than regretting the trip-up, she longed to get back to the sea.

” It is beautiful out there ,” she said.” You don’t reek the city life. The sky doesn’t get blocked out by the suns .”

” It was simpler on the ocean ,” Appel said.” There you survive and everything is OK. Here, we’ve re-entered the Matrix- and we left the Matrix for a reason .”

The USS Ashland rescued the two women 900 miles south-east of Japan on 25 October. They and the dogs, Zeus and Valentine, had departed their home base of Honolulu on 3 May for an 18 -day trip to Tahiti.

But, they said, a” force-out 11″ blizzard reached off the coast of Hawaii hours when they are left, violating their rigging and setting them floating. Appel, 48, said she spent the early nights of the storm braced on the floor of the cockpit in her contaminate climate gear, muscling the wheel to angle the boat into waves so tall and black that they blended into the sky. They said the cyclone inundated their engine.

Fuiava, who had never managed a barge before the journey, said she survived the storm by sleeping below.

” I’m a heavy sleeper ,” said Fuiava, a hesitant speaker, who brightens at any talk of animals and tends to turn conversations around to ask about the life of the questioner.

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On calmer days, Appel said, Fuiava, 26, would take the night watch and she would wake early to watch the sunrise with her, dreaming of omelets while they feed oatmeal and dried fruit.( Their food also included rice , noodles, hydrated soup, beef jerky, Gatorade and iced tea; she said the eggs ran out in May .) Appel said that sometimes dolphins would come by to play with the dogs, who would run, barking, along the deck. But she also say of surviving assaults in which 20 -3 0ft tiger sharks banged their boat. She described utilizing rope to rig a self-steering system and said she spent her days checking every screwing on the boat, writing in her diary and reading sailing biographies, while Fuiava slept.

Before the two even stepped back on land at the US navy base in Okinawa, Japan, experts began questioning their account.

Storm records, it was pointed out, proved no big storm off Hawaii the day they left. In response, Appel created an email from the coast guard confirming that there was a small craft advisory predicting waves of 7-10ft. A force 11 blizzard, which is the second highest on the Beaufort scale, is considered a “violent storm”, making waves from 37 -5 2ft high. Seven to 10ft waves would occur under force 5 or 6 conditions, which are described as” fresh breeze” and “strong breeze”.

In addition, shark experts said tiger sharks only grow to about 17 ft and have never been known to attack boats.

Sailors also received it hard to swallow when the pair said six different communications devices failed, which was highly unusual. But skepticism went through the roof when the two sailors admitted that they had not activated their emergency beacon. The electronic EPIRB device would have immediately alerted rescuers of their location.

” The tale doesn’t make sense to sailors ,” said Linus Wilson, author of the blog Slow Boat Sailing, who quickly began trying to prove their narrative was a hoax. Wilson, who has himself attained the intersect to Tahiti, checked with ports around the South Pacific to see if the women might have landed there, and queried South Pacific sailing internet groups.

” There are a lot of things about the story that either can’t be verified or don’t check out .”

Appel has maintained that they didn’t need to use their EPIRB because, though their barge was incapacitated, they had plenty of food and it didn’t feel like it was a life or death situation.

” There were days when I thought we were left for dead ,” she said. But while they wanted help, she didn’t think it was a “Mayday” emergency.” We were going to end up somewhere, so why not take the adventure ?”

Appel said she was still hoping to find her barge, which was her only home. In the meantime, her puppies must get two inoculations 30 days apart before they can be let back into Hawaii. She said she left her wallet on Sea Nymph and was running out of fund. Her household doesn’t want to talk to her. On top of that, a tabloid published nude pictures of her taken when she dabbled in dominatrix work a decade ago. And, she said, a tinge of exasperation in her otherwise enthusiastic voice, she has no hope of recovering insurance money from her lost boat” because it was outside of the 400 -mile radius[ from coast ]”. She was also irritated at the bad press.” Person think I’m making a movie or a volume. I haven’t signed anything yet .”

Tasha Fuiava, left, and Jennifer Appel sit with their dog on the deck of the USS Ashland on 30 October. Photo: Koji Ueda/ AP

Rowland Williams, who knew Appel in college, said he wasn’t that surprised to hear about her floating for five months at sea.

” It fits with her’ go big or go home’ posture about life ,” he said.” If she goes out to sea and makes a bad call and she’s still a good person, that outweighs everything .”

Michael Parker salvaged Appel’s first boat, a 35 ft fiberglass sloop, when it wrecked on some rocks off Honolulu in 2012. He said her insurance refused to pay him. But year later, Appel impressed him when, out of the blue, she dedicated him some of the money he was owed even though she didn’t have to.

As an experienced sailor, though, he couldn’t help but topic parts of the story.

” Why were you floating around out there in the ocean without turning[ the EPIRB] on ?” he wondered.” Floating around into the sea for five months would be like being in prison .”

But Roman Kalinowski, who was involved with Appel a few years ago, said he was inclined to believe her.

” She doesn’t think about stuff before she does it ,” he said.” It’s pretty believable that she was lost at sea … She probably thought she could salvage the situation somehow .”

Appel and Fuiava said they were currently staying with friends in Long Island. Since they can’t return to Hawaii with the dogs until some time in December, they are planning to do a cross-country road trip.

” Eventually, we’re either going to find out my barge has been determined or we’re going to start working on a new barge ,” Appel said.

” We are incredibly appreciative of the navy ,” she said. But” if I had it to do again, I would just keep going .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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