Story of two female sailors adrift at sea for five months does not add up, say experts – Evening Standard

The dramatic story of two women lost at sea for five months has been put under the spotlight by maritime experts who say it doesn’t quite add up.

The women from Hawaii stepped back on to dry land on Monday at a U.S Naval base in southern Japan, however according to reports part of their story does not add up.

The US Coast Guard said on Monday that there was an emergency beacon on board the women’s sail boat that was never activated.

Speaking to the Associated Press, the US Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr said that through interviewing the survivors and reviewing the information that he could confirm the women had access to a working Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon but never turned it on.


Command Master Chief Gary Wise greets Jennifer Appel, one of the sailors who got lost (AFP/Getty Images)

An EPIRB is a device that enables sailors to communicate by satellite with local authorities. It can be activated manually or will self-activate when submerged in water.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava had left Honolulu on May 3 on a sailboat called the Sea Nymph. The trip was supposed to last 18 days, however after storms flooded the engine and damaged the mast and sails they were unable to stay on course.

When asked by the Associated Press if they had a radio beacon on board the women mentioned a number of devices but not an EPIRB specifically.

However, during an interview with the Coast Guard after the incident, Appel said she did have the device but that it wasn’t properly registered.

The women claim they made distress calls for 98 days in a row but that no one answered their call.


Zeus, one of the two dogs stranded with the sailors, is helped aboard (AFP/Getty Images)

During an interview with the New York Post, Phillip R. Johnson, a retired Coast guard officer said that if the women had activated the device they would have been found.

He said that it was rare for EPIRB devices to fail but that a weak battery may cause it not to work.

When asked why they didn’t activate the EPIRB, the women said they never truly felt in distress, like they were going to die.

In June, the Coast Guard made contact with the Sea Nymph when the vessel was near Tahiti after the women had reportedly lost their engines. The Coast Guard said that the captain had maintained that they were not in distress and expected to reach land next morning.

However, when the women were rescued on Wednesday by the USS Ashland they said that when they had been 1,345 kilometres away from Oahu in June, they knew they “weren’t going to make it”.

The USS Ashland said that the survivors looked remarkably well considering that they had been lost at sea for nearly six months.

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