Two sailors and their dogs rescued after five months adrift at sea

By Claudia Kawczynska, October 2017, Updated June 2021

This is a truly amazing story about how two sailors, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba and their two dogs, Zeus and Valentine, were rescued after being adrift in the Pacific Ocean for five months. The USS Ashland, an amphibious landing ship, that was luckily doing patrol when they received the alert from a Taiwanese fishing boat that had first spotted them, performed the rescue effort on Wednesday.

Appel and Fuiaba had set sail from Hawaii in spring, their destination was Tahiti a course of 2,700 miles, but on May 30 their engine died during a storm and damaged their communication equipment. They experienced other debilitating problems, a piece of the mast called a spreader failed, limiting the sailboat’s maneuverability, their phones were lost overboard on the first day out, even the water purifier had stopped working and they were down to their last gallon of water when Ms. Appel got it fixed.

They would send daily distress signals, but there weren’t vessels close enough to pick up on the signals. Their boat drifted further and further off course. Appel told the Navy rescuers that they survived thanks to water purifiers and a year’s supply of dry food on board, including rice, pasta and oatmeal. The USS Ashland rescued the four sailors on Thursday, and were met with a joyous and thankful outpouring from all aboard. “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief,” Appel said, according to the Navy.

Asked if they ever thought they might not survive, Appel 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.


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Claudia Kawczynska is The Bark's co-founder and Editor-in-Chief.