"We still never got to see the 20,000 islands," says Jennifer Appel
Two women who were lost at sea for five months while attempting to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti before being rescued by a U.S. Navy ship have said they already have plans to make another attempt at the crossing.
Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiava and their two dogs, Valentine and Zeus, set foot on solid ground at a U.S. Navy base in Japan on Monday, according to TIME, but their statement to the press wasn’t just one of relief and gratitude toward their rescuers.
After recounting their harrowing tale of being caught in a storm that flooded their engine and damaged the mast and sails, Appel announced that the pair are already thinking about making another attempt at the crossing as soon as next spring.
“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,” Appel said. She announced plans to build an “unsinkable and unbreakable boat” for the new voyage. Her 50-foot sailboat, the Sea Nymph, was badly damaged and abandoned in the Pacific during the rescue. The 2,700-mile journey should take about one month.
Appel spent years preparing for their first trip. Though she credited her survival to the advice of veteran sailors from Hawaii, according to TIME. “They said pack every square inch of your boat with food, and if you think you need a month, pack six months, because you have no idea what could possibly happen out there,” Appel recounted. “And the sailors in Honolulu really gave us good advice. We’re here.”
Additional information calling into question elements of the women’s story surfaced on Monday, when it was discovered that they had a rescue beacon they did not use. A Coast Guard spokeswoman told the Associated Press, “We asked why during this course of time did they not activate the [beacon]. She had stated they never felt like they were truly in distress, like in a 24-hour period they were going to die.”
However, in a briefing on Monday, ABC News reported that Appel stated, “The crew of the USS Ashland saved our lives. Had they not been able to locate us we would have been dead within 24 hours.” During a conference call with the AP and PEOPLE on Friday, Appel did not include the beacon when asked what communication devices she had on board.