A planned voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti aboard a small sailboat didn’t start off well for two Honolulu women. One of their cellphones washed overboard and sank into the deep blue water on their first day at sea. From there, things got worse. Much worse. About a month into their trip, bad weather caused their engine to lose power. Their mast was damaged. And then, as they drifted across thousands of miles of open ocean, their water purifier stopped working. The pair sent out daily distress calls that no one heard, and were finally rescued by the U.S. Navy on Wednesday about 900 miles southeast of Japan.
In a phone call with news media from the Ashland, Appel said they had sent a distress signal for 98 days with no response. ‘It was very depressing and very hopeless, but it’s the only thing you can do, so you do what you can do,’ she said, according to an audio recording of the call. A group of sharks attacked their boat one night, and a single shark returned a day later, she said. Asked if they ever thought they might not survive, she said they would not be human if they did not. She credited the two dogs, which she called their companion animals, with keeping their spirits up. They told the Navy that they survived because they had packed a water purifier and enough food for a year, mostly dried goods like oatmeal and pasta.