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The rescue: The U.S. Navy approaches the Sea Nymph.

dogs who were rescued in October onboard their 50-foot sailboat, the Sea Nymph. The video, taken by the Navy of the rescue (go to YouTube and search for “USS Ashland rescue”), showed a boat with a mast up, sails furled, and healthy-looking women with their dogs (also healthy) onboard. The first thing that comes to mind is that the boat looks operable, although not clean. So—what happened? Numerous sources reported on the incident with questions about how they were unable to call for help, since they ran into a storm shortly after leaving Hawaii and were close to land. They had ample supplies and water, but cruisers who would make such a trip would definitely bring a longdistance communication radio. And did they not have an engine which would generate power for the radio? Video interviews onboard Ashland revealed much about their plight, but mystery still surrounds their trip, especially since Appel said she had sailed around the Hawaiian Islands for 10 years and had planned the voyage for two years while she and her companion, Tasha Fuiava, worked on the boat.

News & Views for Southern Sailors

But Fuiava made the comment in the interview that she told Appel she had never sailed. Appel commented that she now realizes she didn’t know what she was getting into. After leaving Honolulu on May 3, the two said they hit a storm in the beginning, right off Hawaii, that lasted three days and two nights. Appel called it a “Force 11” storm, and that they and the boat survived intact and afterwards felt empowered—that they and the boat had survived such harsh conditions—so they decided to not go back to Hawaii, but continue on in what they had hoped to be an 18-day trip to Tahiti, followed by a six-month cruise in the South Pacific. As they continued on, they noticed that one of the spreaders was bent, so they sailed on cautiously until about 700 miles from Hawaii, the spreader broke. They then “nursed it” along with plans to stop for repairs at Kiribati, another island along the way that was off their intended course—but still in the general direction of Tahiti. But when they got to the island, their boat was too big to enter the harbor (too shallow?), so they decided to continue on to the Cook Islands. But when they got near the Cooks, they said they got caught in a strong current that was taking them west, and since, with weakened mast, they didn’t have the ability to sail where they wanted, they decided to head back north to Hawaii. On their way back, they soon ran into another strong storm that rained so hard on them that the cockpit flooded with rainwater, which flooded the engine, making it inoperable. At that point they continued drifting west, without the ability to sail out of the current. They were three weeks into their trip at that point and drifted for the next four months until their rescue. Appel called them “greenhorns in the sailing world.” They said they had packed six months worth of food, but ate 90 percent of it, partly because they started feeding their two dogs—two big dogs—the human food, with Appel commenting that it “turned out that they really liked human food.” The two women were so happy in their interview that you would have thought they had just completed a successful circumnavigation and were celebrating. It’s worth watching, undoubtedly, because they both felt so positive. But they were celebrating their rescue, happy that they survived, and they both profusely thanked the Navy for their rescue and the hospitality they received onboard the Ashland. The two said they loved their boat, and although the Navy declared it unseaworthy, the rescued couple both hoped they would be able to recover it—and even might take it out again. One thing’s for sure: they got an education on cruising.

SOUTHWINDS

December 2017

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Southwinds December 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds December 2017  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...