The US Navy came to their rescue as they were stranded on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for almost five months. But they were too far away from other boats and shore stations to be heard.
They were finally discovered on Tuesday of this week by a Taiwanese fishing vessel 900 miles southeast of the Japanese coast. An ecstatic woman greeted them and blew kisses, while the two dogs, Zeus and Valentine, wearing bright, yellow life jackets, barked excitedly.
"I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours", Appel said.
Appel and Fuiava had left Honolulu on May 3 aboard Appel's 50-foot vessel the Sea Nymph for what was supposed to be an 18-day trip to Tahiti.
"They saved our lives", said Appel through the Navy release.
The pair, along with their dogs - or the "boys", as they call them - survived two separate shark attacks, they said.
"We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught ..." Appel said after their rescue that she'd sent out a distress call daily for 98 days without response.
"It was very depressing and very hopeless, but it's the only thing you can do, so you do what you can do", the newspaper quoted her as saying. About a month into the trip, bad weather caused their engine to lose power, then their mast was damaged, and, as they drifted across thousands of miles of open ocean, the water purifier stopped working.More news: Attorney General Hunter Urges Oklahomans to Observe National Takeback Day
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Following a joint operation by Japanese, Taiwanese and US teams, a US Navy ship reached the sailors on Wednesday morning - and rescued them after their boat was deemed "unseaworthy".
The Navy is always ready to "assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation", said the Ashland's top officer Cmdr.
Ashland Command Master Chief Gary Wise welcomes aboard Jennifer Appel..
"If they hadn't been found there (off Japan) there's a good chance they'd have gone back out to the Pacific", Ebbesmeyer said.
"We learned that we love the ocean, that we can persevere past the limits of what we thought was tolerable", Appel says.
Their sailboat is right now drifting out to sea and is no longer seaworthy, CNN reports. "I couldn't have been more grateful paying taxes to the US Navy, who would honor us by going out of their way and holding up national security issues to save two women and two dogs who erroneously ended up on the other side of the planet".
The pair and their dogs will remain on board the USS Ashland until it reaches its next port. They thought they could make landfall using the boat's sails.
"There's different sunrises and sunsets every day", Fuiava said.