Rescued Women Say They 'Were Never Lost,' Claim Fishing Boat Crew Tried to Kill Them
The tale of two women rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy is getting stranger and stranger.
The latest twist comes as the sailors from Hawaii appeared on the Today show and declared they knew exactly where they were as they drifted in the Pacific for five months.
"We were never 'lost at sea' — we knew where we were the entire time," Jennifer Appel, 48, told NBC News after her television appearance with Tasha Fuiava, 26, who left with Appel in May on what was supposed to be a 2,600-mile voyage from Honolulu to Tahiti.
They were picked up in October, hundreds of miles off the coast of Japan and seriously off course, it was reported at the time.
A Taiwanese fishing boat had initially discovered the pair, but contrary to earlier accounts, the crew did not offer them aid, Appel said this week.
"The Taiwanese fishing vessel was not planning to rescue us. They tried to kill us during the night," Appel said. She added the crew purposely rammed the pair's much smaller sail boat.
Since the women's highly publicized rescue, questions and criticism have arisen over why the sailors did not activate their emergency distress beacon to summon help. Their claim that a massive storm wiped out their engine shortly after they set off has also been debated after weather officials said no major disturbances had been recorded in the area.
Appel said the women didn't turn on their vessel's distress beacon because the Taiwanese crew would know. Instead, she used a surfboard to paddle to the fishing boat, board the boat and use the crew's satellite phone.
“I was able to get on the surfboard and get on their boat, make an actual phone call,” she told NBC. “Because no one spoke English, it was easier and safer for me to relay the information to the U.S. Coast Guard Guam sector that we were in danger without them realizing what we were saying."
After they were picked up by an American Navy ship on maneuvers in the area, the women disembarked in Japan, where they said would continue sailing, despite their misadventures.