Lost at sea

Let’s have a feel-good story, because why not.

Two women with their two dogs were lost in the Pacific in a small sailboat for five months, and then the Navy found them and rescued them.

The moment the two women and their dogs were finally rescued is captured on video, taken from the deck of a Navy boat.

The camera wobbles as the motorboat cuts across the ocean, some 900 miles southeast of Japan, toward the lone sailboat that had been sending distress signals for months after its engine died.

One of the women is on the deck, her arms outstretched.

She feverishly blows kisses toward the rescue boat. This is the reaction of someone who had been lost at sea for months.

Also the dogs are barking.

The Navy’s press release tells the story:

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) — The Sasebo-based amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) rendered assistance to two distressed mariners, Oct. 25, whose sailboat had strayed well off its original course.

The mariners, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiaba, both from Honolulu, and their two dogs had set sail from Hawaii to Tahiti this spring. They had an engine casualty May 30 during bad weather but continued on, believing they could make it to land by sail.

Two months into their journey and long past when they originally estimated they would reach Tahiti, they began to issue distress calls. The two continued the calls daily, but they were not close enough to other vessels or shore stations to receive them.

On Oct. 24, they were discovered 900 miles southeast of Japan by a Taiwanese fishing vessel. The fishing vessel contacted Coast Guard Sector Guam who then coordinated with Taipei Rescue Coordination Center, the Japan Coordination Center, and the Joint Coordination Center in Honolulu to render assistance.

Operating near the area on a routine deployment, Ashland made best speed to the location of the vessel in the early morning on Oct. 25 and arrived on scene at 10:30 a.m that morning.

 Sailors assigned to the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) maneuver the landing craft personnel (large) to render assistance to distressed mariners.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/Released)

After assessing the sailboat unseaworthy, Ashland crew members brought the distressed mariners and their two dogs aboard the ship at 1:18 p.m.

“And Toto too?” “Toto too.”

Sailors help Zeus, one of two dogs who were accompanying two mariners who were aided by the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48).

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/Released)

“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,” said Appel.

Appel said they survived the situation by bringing water purifiers and over a year’s worth of food on board, primarily in the form of dry goods such as oatmeal, pasta and rice.

Once on Ashland, the mariners were provided with medical assessments, food and berthing arrangements. The mariners will remain on board until Ashland’s next port of call.

“The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, Ashland commanding officer.

Well done Navy.

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