Sailors Stranded For Months At Sea Refused To Let Their Dogs Go Hungry
"We did run out of dog food. And the dogs turned out to really like human food.”
For months, Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiaba and their two canine companions, Zeus and Valentine, were stranded in a hobbled boat adrift in the Pacific Ocean, unsure if they would ever be rescued. But despite the hopelessness the humans aboard must have felt at times, they still made sure the pups survived, too.
And thanks to that dedication to their pets, all aboard lived long enough to be rescued.
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.
Here's video from the moment Appel, Fuiaba and their two dogs finally knew they were safe.
The whole crew on that boat set adrift survived all that time because Appel and Fuiaba had planned ahead. The vessel was equipped with a water filtration system, and they'd brought along more food than they thought they'd need. Still, by the time they were discovered, it was running dangerously low.
“We figured we might need three months of food, so we packed at least six," Appel later told Navy officials. "I thought if we judicially spared our supplies, it would last a year. And we’ve used 90 percent of them in six months.”
It has since been revealed that one of the reasons their food supply apparently went so fast was because they were sharing their rations with the dogs.
"We did run out of dog food,” Appel said. “And the dogs turned out to really like human food.”
"A lot," Fuiaba reiterated.
Because of their sacrifice, which put Appel and Fuiaba at risk of starvation had rescue come much later, even the canine members of the crew lived to tell their harrowing tale.
"They saved our lives," Appel said of their rescuers. "The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief."
Editor's Note: Questions have since been raised about the truth of Appel and Fuiava's story. The Dodo will update this piece if more information becomes available.