Monday, The Goldwater reported on the startling discovery of an unused but perfectly functional emergency beacon aboard the vessel of two women who were rescued at Sea by the US Navy.
Now on Tuesday, more revelations reveal something is off about the pair who claimed their vessel was disabled in a powerful typhoon after records show there were no storms in the area the two claimed they were at when their sailboat became disabled. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava insist a storm with near hurricane-force winds whipped up 30-foot waves on the night they first set sail from Honolulu. "We got into a Force 11 storm, and it lasted for two nights and three days," Jennifer Appel said.
So what is up with these two and what were they really doing all those months they were at sea? One thing is for sure, the rescue operation conducted by the US Navy ship USS Ashland most certainly cost a pretty chunk of change for taxpayers when you consider the costs involved from the wages of the sailors to fuel and time spent locating and transporting the pair. What were they trying to hide and what forced them to eventually call for help via a Taiwanese fishing vessel instead of using their emergency beacon? The women told Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle they didn't activate their emergency beacon because "they never felt like they were truly in distress, like in a 24-hour period they were going to die."
A subsequent investigation by the Coast Guard has noted several inconsistencies with their story, chief of which is the lack of any record of the storm where the pair reported one and the unused emergency beacon. According to Appel's mother, Joyce, she called the Coast Guard to report her daughter missing a week and a half after their departed for what they believed was an 18-day trip to Tahiti but the Coast Guard says they never got a call from the older Appel. The Coast Guard did however acknowledge receiving a call from a "family friend" they said was male on May 19, which was still several days before the women were slated to arrive at their destination.
The two women also claim they filed a float plan with the Coast Guard but they say there is no record that they did so. Among their interesting claims was an attack on their vessel when the two say 20 to 30 foot tiger sharks rammed their boat in succession for more than six hours despite scientists who study tiger sharks saying the largest recorded length of one is only 17 feet and they have no attacks like they described have every been documented.
Their encounter with the Taiwanese fishing vessel also changed from their original version. At first the pair said the fishing vessel crew was kind and radioed in their position to the Coast Guard but have now revised their story to say they were threatened by the crew and worried for their safety when they revealed the fishing vessel had towed them. Appel said, "I also believe that they knew they were damaging the boat. And if we couldn't get additional help, that boat would sink, and they would get … two girls to do whatever they wanted to."
An investigation into the fishing vessel revealed the captain, Mr. Chen, said he received a mayday radio call but could not understand it but later saw someone waving a white object on a boat in the distance. When Mr. Chen's fishing vessel approached the women asked to use the satellite phone and get a tow to Midway Island. Mr. Chen says he offered the women food and water and asked if they would like to board their vessel but they refused all help and insisted on a tow. The fishing vessel captain says he towed the women's sailboat overnight but in the morning they asked to stop the towing and call for a naval vessel.
Another interesting side note is that Jennifer Appel is registered with the Hawai'i Actors Network and her bio on the site says she has "been known to do almost any skydiving or motorcycle stunt — camera optional." The agency has not responded to requests for comment, it may be awhile before we know the truth about what really happened out at sea and what these two women were really up to.
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