Two women, who say they spent more than five months stranded at sea on their sailboat with their dogs, said their time spent on the USS Ashland has been “amazing.”
Hawaiian residents Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava arrived at the White Base Naval Facility in Okinawa on Monday after being rescued by the U.S. Navy and being brought ashore on the USS Ashland. The pair was found by the Navy on October 25, adrift some 900 miles off the coast of Japan.
“The attention to detail that the Navy has with respect to foreign animals in a foreign situation has been phenomenal,” Appel says in a video.
The women said the Navy has been helpful during their time spent on the USS Ashland, including helping them with supplies such as toothbrushes and deodorant.
They said sailors have come up to them and asked them if they need any assistance finding their way around the ship due to its large size.
“This is in the top ten list. In a million years, I would have never thought that I would ever be on a Navy ship, a war ship, much less rescued by a war ship,” Appel said. “The open arms that you guys have had for us, top notch.”
Appel and Fuiava left on their three-week journey to Tahiti on May 3 in their vessel, the Sea Nymph. However, they ran into a storm and their engine became flooded, their mast was damaged, and they lost their communications systems.
U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr told The Associated Press that the two women still had the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) aboard but never turned it on. The women said they didn’t turn it on because they weren’t in fear for their lives at any point.
Appel told ABC News that had the U.S. Navy not saved them, they “would have been dead within 24 hours.”
“The crew of the USS Ashland saved our lives,” Appel said during a press briefing on Monday, ABC News reported. “Had they not been able to locate us, we would have been dead within 24 hours.”
The women said they sent out distress signals for 98 days and endured two separate tiger shark attacks.
When asked what they would do next, Appel said they hope to rebuild their vessel.
“We would like to build the unsinkable and unbreakable boat … and still sail the Pacific because we never got a chance to go to Tahiti,” Appel told ABC News. “And we still never got to see the 20,000 islands, so I think that would be the most fantastic trip for May of next spring.”
Check out these videos to see what the two women had to say about their time aboard the USS Ashland and their journey towards being rescued: