HONOLULU (AP) — Two women from Hawaii who were rescued after being lost at sea defended their account of the ordeal Tuesday, insisting that a storm was whipping up 30-foot waves and near hurricane-force winds on the night they set sail, despite records that show no severe weather in the area.
The Coast Guard is reviewing records from the days after Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava put to sea in a 50-foot sailboat, but NASA satellite images for the days around their departure show no organized storms in the region where they planned to travel.
There was a tropical cyclone, but it was near Fiji, thousands of miles west of Hawaii. Localized squalls are known to pop up, but a storm lasting three days would have been visible on satellite and would have elicited mass warnings to the public to brace for the weather.
“We got into a Force 11 storm, and it lasted for two nights and three days,” Appel said.Coast Guard officials told The Associated Press on Monday that the two women had an emergency beacon but never turned it on because they did not fear for their lives. If they had, rescue would have been headed their way in a matter of minutes.
The woman “stated they never felt like they were truly in distress, like in a 24-hour period they were going to die,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle said Monday.
The women said Tuesday that they did not use the beacon because they never felt they were in immediate danger, yet they have been quoted as saying they did not think they would survive another day, and that they were fearful during a dramatic tiger shark attack that lasted for six hours. Furthermore, the pair said they had been flagging vessels and sending distress signals for at least 98 days.
“We knew we weren’t going to make it,” Appel said. “So that’s when we started making distress calls.”
The Coast Guard outlined other inconsistencies, most notably on the timing of events.
Questions have been raised over the story of two Hawaii women who say they were lost at sea for six months – after it emerged they never activated their emergency beacon, sailed past an inhabited island and were caught in a seemingly non-existent storm. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fiava were rescued by the US Navy 900 miles southeast of Japan last Wednesday after setting sail from Hawaii on May 3.They told a harrowing tale of survival after their rescue, but many of their claims have now been called into question including:
- The woman claimed they did not have a standard Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on their vessel. The Coast Guard found one on board and say it was never activated.
- The ‘Force 11 storm’ they claimed they encountered at the start of their journey, featuring 30-foot high seas and 60 mph winds over three days, was not recorded by meteorologists
- They claim that they considered turning back after the storm but could not because the islands of Maui and Lanai did not have harbors deep enough for their boat. There are several places they could have docked
- They also claim that, days later, they could not stop at a nearby island to fix their boat because it was ‘uninhabited’ – but Christmas Island, part of Kiribati, is home to over 2,000 people and often welcomes huge commercial ships
- Instead of stopping at Christmas Island, they set a new destination of 1,000 miles away in the Cook Islands – also hundreds of miles beyond their original destination of Tahiti
- When off Tahiti in June, the captain of the ship was reported to have told the Coast Guard they were fine and expected to land next morning – but months later they ended up in the western Pacific
For Halloween this year my costume was of my alter-ego: Slash, the Guns N’ Roses guitarist who has a very distinctive look. I ordered the various pieces about a month ago, including temporary tattoos, and was ready to go on Halloween morning, confident that mine would be one of the top costumes at my office.
Only no one else wore costumes. No one! Halloween fell on a Tuesday this year, a day when many of my officemates work from home. It was kinda sad that the office missed a chance to do a proper Halloween day but in all fairness we had had a chili contest the day before, so that was something.
It wasn’t all for naught for me, though. I brought my electric guitar into the office as part of my costume (though it is a cheap Epiphone and not Slash’s preferred Les Paul). Though my guitar isn’t the best, once I got it somewhat tuned up I reminded myself how much fun it is to just pick up a guitar and noodle around with it during the workday. Several times a day yesterday I would grab my guitar and practice bar chords and other stuff, walking over to a nearby conference room to avoid disturbing my officemates.
Tl;dr I won the costume contest by default and I also reignited my love for playing guitar. Not a bad day.