The two women who captivated the nation with their tale of survival after becoming stranded at sea are being called into question after numerous scientists, sailing experts, and Coast Guard officials came forward to poke holes in their story. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava made numerous claims regarding their journey, and not all of them are holding up.
As reported by Fox News, everything from the condition of the women’s ship to whether a claimed shark encounter actually occurred is being questioned.
The women stated they were intended to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti but were unable to make their destination after their engines failed and the mast was damaged. This left them stranded in the Pacific Ocean for about five months until they were rescued by a US Navy vessel near Japan last week. But, as more people hear about the details, more are coming forward to debunk Appel and Fuiava’s claims.
“I’m shocked they were going to Tahiti,” said Desiree Hattori, a woman who knew Appel. “Her boat wasn’t in the best shape.”
Appel and Fuiava also claimed their ship was attacked by 20- to 30-foot tiger sharks for a period of over six hours, but scientists have stated the supposed encounter doesn’t align with any previously observed tiger shark behavior and that tiger sharks usually only reach lengths of about 17 feet.
Kim Holland, a professor at the University of Hawaii and shark researcher, stated he had never heard of sharks repeatedly attacking a boat’s hull throughout the night and that tiger sharks don’t make coordinated attacks or jump out of the water.
Holland added that tiger sharks would congregate, such as if a large food source is available, but noted such an event is unlikely “if there’s nothing there to attract the animals. I mean, this is just an inert boat hull.”
Appel’s mother, Joyce, had stated she made a call to the Coast Guard approximately a week and a half after the women began their journey toward Tahiti, but the Coast Guard asserts they never received such a call from Joyce. They were contacted by a “family friend,” whom the Coast Guard identified as a male, on May 19, but that was several days prior to when the women were anticipated to complete their 18-day trip.
Additionally, Appel and Fuiava claimed to have filed a float plan with some friends and relatives, but in a later interview with the Coast Guard, they stated that had not filed a float plan.
It was also revealed that the women had an emergency beacon onboard, but never activated the device. They stated it was because they did not fear for their lives. However, during an interview after their rescue, they expressed doubt that they would have survived another 24 hours.
The activation of the beacon would have had help headed their direction in minutes.