Women Lost At Sea
Sailors assigned to the USS Ashland assist the two women in their boat, Oct. 25, 2017. United States Navy

Two women who were lost at sea for five months spoke out this week about the terrifying ordeal, detailing the shark attacks they endured and how they survived. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava were rescued by the United States Navy Wednesday after departing from Hawaii May 3.

The women were bound for Tahiti with Appel’s dogs Zeus and Valentine – a 2,700-mile journey they planned to take about a month. The pair ran into trouble May 30 when the mast on the boat malfunctioned and they lost much of their communication capabilities. To make matters worse, Appel and Fuiava had to fend off two separate attacks by tiger sharks.

“They decided to use our vessel to teach their young how to hunt,” Appel told reporters Friday, according to People magazine. “We basically laid huddled on the floor, and I told [the dogs] not to bark because the sharks could hear us breathing. They could smell us.”

The women were lucky enough that the hull of the boat withstood the damage, Appel said.

“I’m telling you I’ve never seen any Stanley Cup winner come even close to the precision these five sharks had,” said Appel. “Three would get on one side and two would get on the other side and they would make waves and try to knock down the boat.”

Appel said she endured the attacks by “praying to a higher power that we would hold together.”

“I’ve never been so scared in my whole life,” she said. “It was like an earthquake going off. There was a boom and then everything shakes, even the teeth in my head. There is nothing you can do at that point.”

Fortunately, the women had a year’s worth of food to sustain them. They continued sending distress calls for 98 days but heard nothing back. Eventually, the pair was spotted by a Taiwanese fishing ship about 900 miles off the coast of Japan. The fisherman alerted the United States Coast Guard, which sent the USS Ashland to rescue the women. Appel, Fuiava, Zeus and Valentine were brought aboard the ship Wednesday afternoon and dropped them off a few days later at a naval base in Okinawa.

“When I saw the grey ship on the horizon, I was just shaking,” said Appel. “I was so happy, I knew we were going to live.”

Despite the five-month ordeal, Appel said they’d be open to trying again next year.

“We never got a chance to go to Tahiti, or Papeete or Moorea,” Appel said, according to NBC News. “We still never got to see the 20,000 islands [of the South Pacific] so I think that would be the most fantastic trip for May of next spring.”

Women Rescued At Sea
Tasha Fuiaba climbs the ladder to board the USS Ashland, Oct. 25, 2017. United States Navy