Stranded at sea tale becomes more elaborate amidst questions

PACIFIC OCEAN — It is not terribly uncommon for tales of survival to feature more than a dash of embellishment. Such stories always boil down to differentiating between what was said and what actually happened. The veracity of what two women described as a sail gone completely awry certainly has a fair share of skeptics, according to recent news reports.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava left Hawai’i aboard their boat in early May, reportedly setting sail for Tahiti. The women had their two dogs aboard, according to a New York Times report. The sail was set of course not too long after the women departed, according to news reports. Appel and Fuiava told the press their boat effectively became disabled after a three-day storm – ultimately setting them adrift.

The duo stated they survived on a pasta diet and were threatened by tiger sharks ramming up against their vessel, according to a story published by Vice. They were eventually rescued, according to initial news reports, by a Taiwanese fishing boat.

Some of their claims, however, have been disputed in recent weeks.

A Nov. 1 New York Times article reported the women apparently had an emergency beacon on board but never activated the device.

The same article also cited sources questioning whether the three-day storm every occurred. A National Weather Service meteorologist told the Times there was no severe weather storm along the path Appel and Fuiava sailed in May.

Appel reportedly claimed she and her boat mate faced a “force 11” (64 to 72 mph winds) at the outset of their navigation. The Times, however, reported the most intense weather advisory at the time was for wind speeds of less than 35 mph.

NBC published a story about one week after the Times’ report, quoting Appel as saying she and Fuiava weren’t actually rescued by a Taiwanese fishing boat. Those aboard the boat were trying to kill Appel and Fuiva, the former reportedly alleged.

Scientists also questioned whether tiger sharks ever struck their vessel, contrary to the species’ usual behavior, according to a report in People Magazine.

Time will tell whether the shared details of Appel’s and Fuiava’s survival will stand.


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