The Latest: Doomed sailboat had communications failures

October 28, 2017

CORRECTS NAME TO TASHA FUIAVA-In this Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 photo, sailors from the USS Ashland approach a sailboat with two Honolulu women and their dogs aboard as they are rescued after being lost at sea for several months while trying to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti. The U.S. Navy rescued the women on Wednesday after a Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted them about 900 miles southeast of Japan on Tuesday and alerted the U.S. Coast Guard. The women, identified by the Navy as Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, lost their engine in bad weather in late May, but believed they could still reach Tahiti. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/U.S. Navy via AP)

HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on the rescue of two women lost at sea since May (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

The two women who spent nearly six months lost at sea attempted daily to communicate with the outside world.

But adding to the doomed nature of the trip was complete communications failure.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava were trying to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti last May when their boat lost power and the masthead was damaged. Their boat drifted thousands of miles off course, and was found by a Taiwanese fishing vessel Tuesday.

Appel said they carried two GPS units; one failed and they had to rely on the hand-held model for the entire voyage.

They also had a new VHF radio, a ham radio, a weather satellite and a radio telephone. She says none worked, and they apparently had a communications failure with their new antenna.

They also carried a satellite phone that she said never seemed to connect.

She says they had six ways to communicate with multiple backups, and none functioned properly.

That, she said Friday in an interview from the ship, “exceeds Murphy’s Law.

Their engine crippled, their mast damaged, two Honolulu women aboard a 50-foot sailboat drifted helplessly in the Pacific in a five-month ordeal before they were finally rescued by the Navy. (Oct. 27)


2:05 p.m.

Everything that could seemingly go wrong did for two women who tried to sail from Honolulu to Tahiti.

Their planned 18-day voyage last May turned into a six-month ordeal that left their boat with no power and a damaged masthead. As they drifted hundreds of miles off course, they had to deal with violent storms and two attacks by sharks.

With hope fading and food running low, a passing Taiwanese fishing vessel spotted them Tuesday and arranged for their rescue.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava said in a video interview provided by the Navy that the most amazing feeling they’ve ever had was seeing the USS Ashland coming over the horizon to their rescue.

While happy to be rescued, Fuiava says there’s utter sadness at leaving behind their boat, the Sea Nymph. She says the boat saved their lives multiple times on the trip.


10 p.m. Thursday

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.

But the two sailors, accompanied by their dogs, were resourceful and prepared with more than a year’s worth of food, and after more than five months of being lost in the vast Pacific Ocean, sending out daily distress calls that no one heard, they were rescued by the U.S. Navy on Wednesday about 900 miles southeast of Japan.

Update hourly