Appel and Fuiaba set sail from Hawaii last May, embarking on a 2,700-mile journey to Tahiti — but it didn't take long for them to hit trouble. By the end of that month, already hundreds of miles away, the boat's engine died during a heavy storm; still, they pressed on, believing they could complete the route by sailing. Things, however, only got worse. Later on, the mast they were relying on was damaged, leaving them stranded.
Over the next 98 days, Appel and Fuiaba put out a distress call, but to no avail. Then, on the 99th day, a Taiwanese fishing vessel discovered them, and alerted the USS Ashland, a U.S. Navy ship that was on routine patrol in the vicinity.