Stranded sailors and their dogs rescued after five months at sea

Two American mariners say they would have been dead within 24 hours had it not been for the US Navy, which rescued the pair after they were drifting for five months at sea.
One of the dogs, Zeus, being rescued by US Navy sailors on Wednesday.
One of the dogs, Zeus, being rescued by US Navy sailors on Wednesday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON • Two American women, who were attempting to sail 3,200km to Tahiti from their home in Hawaii but ended up drifting off course and spending five months stranded in the Pacific Ocean, have credited the two dogs they brought along for keeping their spirits up during their ordeal.

Ms Jennifer Appel, Ms Tasha Fuiaba and the pooches were picked by a US Navy ship on Wednesday.

The engine on their boat broke down on May 30 but the two women thought they could carry on and make landfall using wind power.

"Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began to issue distress calls," Agence France-Presse quoted the Navy's Pacific-based Seventh Fleet as saying in a statement.

The two continued the calls daily, but they were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations for them to be picked up, the Navy said.

Then on Tuesday, a Taiwanese fishing vessel finally discovered the boat about 1,440km south-east of Japan. The fishermen contacted the US authorities in the Guam region and the amphibious dock landing ship, the USS Ashland, which was in the area, arrived the next day to rescue the sailors and their dogs.

"They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw (the Navy) on the horizon was pure relief," Ms Appel said of her rescuers, according to the statement.

The canines - and their sea dog masters - appeared healthy and well nourished, largely due to the fact that they had water purifiers on board as well as more than a year's worth of food, mostly dry goods like oatmeal, pasta and rice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'Stranded sailors and their dogs rescued after five months at sea'. Print Edition | Subscribe