HOAX or FOLLY? Sailboat Rescue Tale Has Many Inconsistencies

Two Hawaiian sailors rescued off Japan by the US Navy told some tall tales about their ordeal at sea in stories covered by all the major news networks. They said they sailed through a force 11 storm and saw 50-foot sharks in the “Devils Triangle,” but those tales were false. The U.S. Navy rescued two Hawaiian women and two dogs off at 50-foot (or 37-foot) sailboat 900 miles from Japan. Jennifer Appel (the captain and owner of SV Sea Nymph) and Natash “Tasha” Fuiava were rescued 900 miles southeast of Japan and thousands of miles off course from their destination in Tahiti. They said they set off 10 flares, waved a white flag, and made VHF distress calls for 98 days before they were towed by the Taiwanese fishing vessel the Fong Chun No. 66 and then Ms. Appel swam over and used the fishing boat’s satellite phone to call for rescue. Why did they not use their EPIRB to signal for rescue 99 days earlier?

We look at the NOAA weather data, tiger shark tale (which resembles the book and movie Jaws), the decision to not use the EPIRB, the failure to stop at the excellent anchorage in Kiritimati, Kiribati, Christmas Island, the non-lying explanations for the 10-knot current, and GPS and communications gear on the sailboat. Ms. Appel has been made the most famous sailor in the USA by sloppy reporting and poor coordination by the US Navy and the USCG investigating this case. Was this a mayday hoax, which is a felony under federal law? The United States Coast Guard district 14 in Honolulu is not at the time of investigating what led to the expensive US Navy rescue despite many inconsistencies and fabrications in the story.

USS Ashland
Video by Lance Cpl. Jack Gnosca
American Forces Network Okinawa
Marines Returned to Okinawa after taking part in a multinational bi-lateral exercise.
PUBLIC DOMAIN
Mayday Hoaxes are subject to prosecution as a Class D felony under Title 14, Section 85 of the U.S. Code, liable for a $5000 fine plus all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the individual’s action.
Jaws Official Trailer #1 – Richard Dreyfuss, Steven Spielberg Movie (1975) HD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1fu_sA7XhE
All Hands Update: USS Ashland Rescue
FT. MEADE, MD, UNITED STATES
Video by Kevin Dawson
All Hands Update
USS Ashland (LSD 48) renders assistance to two distressed American mariners in the Pacific ocean, Oct. 25, whose sailboat had strayed well of its original course. Ashland was operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on routine deployment when the received the message to help.
PUBLIC DOMAIN
UNITED STATES
10.29.2017
Video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan R Clay
Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet
171029-N- UX013-001- PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 29, 2017) Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) help to bathe Zeus and Valentine, the two dogs rescued with Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava at sea after spending months adrift.
Interviews: Jennifer Appel, Tasha Fuiava,
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nichole Gorofalo
USS Ashland Renders Aid to Mariners
PACIFIC OCEAN
10.25.2017
Video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan R Clay
Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet
USS Ashland LSD 48 renders assistance to two distressed American mariners in the Pacific ocean, Oct. 25, whose sailboat had strayed well of its original course. Ashland was operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on routine deployment when the received the message to help.
PUBLIC DOMAIN
6 SOPS shows Hurricane Irma from space [Image 4 of 6]
6 SOPS shows Hurricane Irma from space
Photo by Capt. Craig Warn
310th Space Wing
http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/31/asia/pacific-sailors-jennifer-appel-tasha-fuiava-questions/index.html
AP: Two lost sailors did not activate emergency beacon
http://nypost.com/2017/10/30/lost-sailors-story-doesnt-add-up-experts-say/

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Downwind Sailing Combinations; On the Coconut Milk Run S2E4 Slow Boat Sailing

The Slow Boat Sailing crew tests out several downwind sailing rigs in their final weeks of the 3,500 nautical mile crossing of the South Pacific Ocean. Double headsail, poled out Genoa and main, and spinnaker and mainsail are compared and tested. and Linus and Ben deal with an autopilot failure. The crew celebrate Christmas at sea. As the crew approaches the Marquesas they deal with stronger squalls. Linus deals with diesel engine bleeding problems, and he takes more risks flying the asymmetrical spinnaker as they are a few days away from French Polynesia. Linus tests out a new Katydyn Powersurvivor Life Raft watermaker (desalinator) and is disappointed by the results. Subscribe to get season 2 in the crossing the Pacific and sail the Marquesas. We use a Mantus Anchor and swivel on our boat. Get all your Mantus gear at http://www.mantusanchors.com/?affilia… Mantus Anchors is a corporate sponsor of this episode. We will be running contest where our most loyal Patreon supporters can become part of our crew literally as we explore the paradise islands of the South Pacific. http://www.Patreon.com/slowboatsailing Our one Star or Executive Producer patron can join the crew without winning the drawing. Patrons of the round the world vlog and podcast get bonus podcast episodes and free audiobooks of How to Sail Around the World Part-Time and Slow Boat to Cuba. They get never before released audiobook chapters of Slow Boat to the Bahamas. You can also get access to many podcasts and videos early as a patron. Slow Boat to the Bahamas https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018OUI1Q2/ Slow Boat to Cuba https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MFFX9AG and How to Sail Around the World-Part Time https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01B0OFYNW/ have been #1 sailing bestseller on Amazon. Associate Producer, Anders Colbenson Support the Slow Boat Sailing vlog and podcast at https://www.patreon.com/slowboatsailing Subscribe to the podcast at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/s… http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/slow-… https://youtu.be/bb1Tk8P7E-U?list=PLm… On the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Linus Wilson has interviewed the crew of Sailing SV Delos, WhiteSpotPirates (Untie the Lines), Chase the Story Sailing, Sailing Doodles, SV Prism, Sailing Miss Lone Star, and many others. Sign up for our free newsletter for access to free books and other promotions at http://www.slowboatsailing.com music by http://www.BenSound.com Copyright Linus Wilson, 2017

Analysis: Jennifer Appel tells CNN why she did not activate her EPIRB, and it does not make sense. By Linus Wilson

USS Ashland arrives in Okinawa with Mariners

Below is the statement from Jennifer Appel sent to CNN. CNN sent her statement to me prior to my interview on CNN Headline News with Erica Hill on October 31, 2017, at 2:00 PM eastern. As a sailor, none of her story makes sense to me:

  1. A flare or waving a white flag is a distress beacon like an EPIRB. It signals that the crew needs rescue. Flares just have a harder time getting people’s attention. If they were setting off flares, they were compelling mariners to rescue them when they were not in a “immediately life threatening” situation according to Ms. Appel.
  2. None of Ms. Appel and Natasha Fuiva’s story makes sense to sailors. If they could sail 4-5 knots as Ms. Appel asserted,  they could have sailed anywhere and they said they visited Kiribati and the Northern Cooks, but choose not to stop prior to their engine being disabled in a “white squall“. Their decision to turn towards the doldrums versus sailing downwind in the trade winds, also seems unwise, but that decision is not as implausible as their assertion that it was not possible for them to go into any port prior to their rescue. If one can sail to land, one can anchor next to it in most cases.
  3. The AP reported that they told the USCG that they were hours away from Tahiti in June, which contradicted their statement that that they had never gotten within 600 nautical miles (660 statute miles) of Tahiti. See the end of my video for that statement from the conference call on the USS Ashland. Their sailboat should not be able to sail more than 200 nautical miles in 24 hours.
  4. The AP reports that Ms. Appel went aboard the fishing vessel. She returned to her boat after refusing rescue from the fishing vessel. Why did taxpayers have to pay for a rescue if she refused help from the closest vessel which she was able to board? Ms. Appel went back to her vessel, which was in danger of sinking to wait for a larger Navy vessel to rescue her.
  5. The surprise that the VHF radio did not broadcast 200 miles out is a sign of incompetence. VHF radios on sailboats have a 25 mile range maximum regardless of their antennae.
  6. In addition to glaring the inconsistencies in her story, Ms. Appel blames others for things that are her fault. She blames the rigger, she blames the person who installed the electronics, and she blames the fishing vessel that tried to save her and tow her at no charge. The skipper has to make sure the electronics work and the rig is well tuned. The skipper makes the judgement to accept a tow. Not once has Ms. Appel said she made a mistake in a voyage that ended in an expensive taxpayer funded rescue and the loss of her boat. Surely, she must think she made some mistakes, which she cannot pawn on  others trying to help her.Below is the full text of Ms. Appel’s response to CNN:

“#EXTRA: US sailor responds to criticism over rescue story – Full response

Full response from Jennifer Appel to CNN addressing address questions over their lack of use of the EPIRB:

The USCG Honolulu Sector receives many calls a day. They have limited resources for the enormous span of water their area covers. A fair amount of those calls are for people in the process of losing their boat and swimming in the ocean.  While I do not deny that a broken spreader, blown backstay and non-functioning motor are all disabling situations – and we had all at the same time when we were at the Equator and 160 degrees West, our boat was still afloat; we had food, water and limited maneuvering capability due to fortifying the broken items at the mast. (Yes, I climbed the mast in open ocean to make hack patches so we could continue as any good sailor would.)

I have been on other boats that have dismasted, had motor problems, lost steering, taking on water, ripped sails and just about every problem a boater can have.  (The more anyone does something the more experience they will have solving problems within the subject matter – whether it be a lawyer, doctor or sailor.  Most people become better at their jobs over time through experience.)

I have seen broken boat pieces floating in the ocean.  EPIRB calls are for people who are in an immediate life threatening scenario.  It would be shameful to call on the USCG resources when not in imminent peril and allow someone else to perish because of it.  Every sailor knows that.  Land people do not; so please do not allow the spin of ignorance to cloud good judgement.

The Pahn Pahn distress calls that we made daily after we realized we could not return the last 726 nautical miles to Oahu from roughly 8 degrees North and 156 degrees West – that went unanswered and allowed us to reach Wake Island – were determined to be due to antenna issues that only allowed for a 1-2 nautical mile of reception.  We thought we had about 200 miles reception and were notified of the descrepancy once aboard the Navy vessel.  

Had we known our calls were going nowhere – we would have used the EPIRB – but hindsight is 20/20.  

Please keep in mind that Wake Island could have towed us less than 3km into their turning basin and the fishing vessel/Navy rescue would never have happened.  We would have replaced the broken rigging with the rigging replacements we had on board while in the safety of a harbor and gotten motor parts and a new antenna then would have continued on our journey with no press involved.  

We were close enough to the reef at Peacock Point to have discussions with`Big Island` on Channel 16 at Wake Island and they responded that they were aware we needed assistance.  That factoid is acutally pretty impressive because we had navigated over 2000 miles to reach a 7.4km island in the literal `middle of nowhere` at roughly 19 degrees North and 166 degrees East.

Pahn Pahn calls, which we made, are different than EPIRB or MAYDAY calls.  Pahn Pahn calls let the USCG and other boats know that the vessel has issues but they are not immediately life threatening.  There is a definite distinction but all three types of communications: MAYDAY, EPIRB and Pahn Pahn are varying types of distress calls.

As for other boats not seeing our flares… the other boats in the ocean missed the flares that were shot when the Titanic sunk, too. 

(Ours were the smaller flares not the fireworks kind.)  

Even the Navy vessel did not see us until they were 4 nautical miles from us and at 4 nautical miles away, the USS Ashland was still unable to hear our radio transmissions.  Our view of the horizon is 8 nautical miles on the deck of Sea Nymph.  We could see the USS Ashland but the USS Ashland could not see us – we were too small and blended in to the ocean between the wave swells.  (Believe it or not, the ocean is not flat and a 50 foot object can disappear from the horizon between waves, which the USS Ashland disclosed to us upon our arrival aboard.)”

Had we not had the benefit of the `help` from the longliner, we would have continued to progress across the Pacific Ocean to Japan or the Northern Marianas or possibly catching a westerly current north and west over the French Frigate Shoals and into the northern part of Hawaii. 

Incidentally, those westerlies we were hoping to catch when we left Wake Island are the reason the North Shore of Oahu is the surfing mecca of the world in the wintertime. Pipeline, The Vans Triple Crown and The Eddie  – http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/data-crunching-early-major-swells-in-the-worlds-most-publicized-big-wave-basin-how-common-is-october-xxl-swell_150025/

We knew if we could navigate Sea Nymph to Wake Island we could also navigate her back home with the right wind and swell in absentia of assistance.

However, once the 100 ton steel fishing boat towing Sea Nymph backed into our 25 ton fiberglass vessel, crushing the anchor roller, taking out the bow pulpit, bending the forestay bracket, ripping off the life lines and incurring structural damage to the deck to hull joint, we had no choice but to call a MAYDAY.  They had already tagged the side and back of our boat, ripping the wind generator pole off of the deck, ripped the life ring and holder from the stern pulpit, breaking chocks and lifting cleats when attempting a side tie tow.  We cut ourselves loose from the fishing vessel and they sent someone to climb aboard to reattach us.  It wasn`t until we disclosed that the US Navy was coming to rescue us that they moved away from our vessel.  Had the Navy not responded in a timely manner, the next `hit` would have done us in.  Even the Navy was a bit surprised at how fast the fishing vessel took off when they saw the USS Ashland on the horizon, which did not allow for a proper hand-off proceedure from a rescuing vessel.

We did a MAYDAY call for assistance only when it was absolutely necessary and help did arrive because the resources were available.  We are grateful for that.”

Check out my video to get up to speed on the crazy trip of the SV Sea Nymph:

Photo credit:

JAPAN

10.30.2017

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan R Clay

Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet

171030-N-UX013-121 OKINAWA, Japan (Oct. 30, 2017) Natasha Fuiava, left, and Jennifer Appel, the two American mariners rescued at sea, share a moment with Command Master Chief Gary Wise as the amphibious dock landing ship moors pier side at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan, to deliver the mariners and their two dogs ashore. Ashland, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a routine deployment, is in Okinawa for a scheduled port stop to prepare for the joint U.S. Navy-Marine Corps exercise Blue Chromite. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay/Released) It is a public domain photo with no copyright.

My FOIA Request to the US Navy regarding the rescue of the crew of the SV Sea Nymph 900 miles off Japan by Linus Wilson

USS Ashland Arrives to Okinawa with Mariners

This is what I asked for with my Freedom of Information Request:

“What are the daily operating costs of the USS Ashland?

  1. How many days and hours did it take for the USS Ashland to intercept Jennifer Appel and Natasha Fuiva to the SV Sea Nymph in October 2017?
  2. How many days and hours did it take for the USS Ashland to reach its next port after picking them up?
  3. Did any US Navy personnel examine the spreaders and rigging of the SV Sea Nymph? What if any problems did they find?
  4. Did any US Navy personnel attempt to start the engine of the SV Sea Nymph? What did they do to get it started?
  5. Did any US Navy personnel ask Appel or Fuiva if they had each of the following prior to October 30, 2017: an EPIRB, SSB, Satelite Phone, and GPS? What were the responses of Appel or Fuiva prior to October 30, 2017?”

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

OKINAWA, JAPAN

10.30.2017

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah Villegas

Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet

171030-N-YG104-006 OKINAWA, Japan (Oct. 30, 2017) Natasha Fuiava, Jennifer Appel, and leadership from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) pose for a photo on the flight deck. Ashland is in Okinawa, Japan to deliver Appel and Fuiava after they were rescued at sea. Ashland, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a routine deployment, is also in Okinawa to prepare for the joint U.S. Navy-Marine Corps exercise Blue Chromite. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Villegas/Released)

Ep. 40: 5 Months Adrift! The Curious Case of SV Sea Nymph on the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast Hosted by Linus Wilson

USS Ashland Arrives in Okinawa with Mariners

This story of disaster at sea has a lot of unanswered questions.

You’ll hear a conference call with the two women rescued 5 months at sea on a 50-foot sailboat adrift in the Pacific Ocean. On May 23, 2017, Jennifer Appel and Natasha Fuiva and the dogs Valentine and Zues departed Oahu, Hawaii in the sailing vessel Sea Nymph bound for Tahiti. On October 25, 2017, they were rescued by the US Navy and Marines of the USS Ashland 900 miles from Japan. Listen to their harrowing story of survival at Sea. Captain Linus Wilson, OUPV-Inland the creator of the Slow Boat Sailing brings up unanswered questions in this deep dive into the disaster with extensive interviews with the survivors. They survived attacks from 50-foot sharks according to one of many of their fantastic claims.

Subscribe to the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast on Stitcher and iTunes!

 

OKINAWA, JAPAN

 

10.30.2017

 

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah Villegas

 

Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet

 

171030-N-YG104-008 OKINAWA, Japan (Oct. 30, 2017) Operations Specialist 1st Class Monique Mont, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hugs Jennifer Appel as she prepares to disembark the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). Ashland is in Okinawa, Japan to deliver two mariners, Jennifer Appel and Natasha Fuiava, after they were rescued at sea. Ashland, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a routine deployment, is also in Okinawa to prepare for the joint U.S. Navy-Marine Corps exercise Blue Chromite. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Villegas/Released)

IMAGE INFO

Date Taken:       10.30.2017

Date Posted:      10.30.2017 07:00

Photo ID:            3912411

VIRIN:   171030-N-YG104-008

Resolution:        3936×2624

Size:      1.37 MB

Location:            OKINAWA, JP

Web Views:       34

Downloads:       9

Podcast Hits:      0

PUBLIC DOMAIN

 

This work, USS Ashland Arrives in Okinawa with Mariners [Image 1 of 10], by PO2 Sarah Villegas, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.

An edited version of:

 

AT SEA

10.27.2017

Courtesy Audio

This is a media availability on a telephone conference line moderated by public affairs officer Lt. Adam Cole. Interviewees include rescued mariners Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, and personnel of the USS Ashland.

 

Date Taken:       10.27.2017

Date Posted:      10.27.2017 13:24

Category:           Newscasts

Audio ID:            49889

Filename:           1710/DOD_105018743.mp3

Length: 00:35:14

Year      2017

Genre   Blues

Location:            AT SEA

PUBLIC DOMAIN

 

This work, Interview with rescued mariners and Navy personnel, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.

Appears in this episode.

 

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