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After Navy rescue, 2 women tell miraculous story of survival through 5 months lost at sea

Tasha Fuiava and Jennifer Appel, along with their two dogs, were located Wednesday drifting in their boat approximately 900 miles southeast of Japan, according to CNN.

“It was incredibly emotional and it was so satisfying to know the men and women that serve our country would come and assist us,” Appel told the media during a phone call, Thursday. “It was actually quite mind-blowing and incredibly humbling,” she adds.

Appel described the five months lost at sea as “very depressing” and “very hopeless.”

“When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew we were about to be saved … because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours,” Appel told NBC News during an interview.

Appel said their voyage started May 3 when they departed Hawaii on the Sea Nymph, headed for Tahiti which is approximately 2,600 miles away. She said they first ran into challenges May 30. That is when she said water flooded their engine. The two reportedly then kept sailing, but somehow veered off course, the Navy indicated in the CNN report.

In an phone interview with KHNL/KGMB, Appel stated that the two had trouble with a damaged mast, which compromised the structural integrity of the vessel, limiting the Sea Nymph’s capabilities to maneuver.

Then, to make things worse, their ship reportedly lost its communications capabilities.

Two months into their voyage, Appel and Fuiava started sending daily distress calls, but they were not heard as they were too far out to be picked up by boats and shore stations, the Navy reported, according to CNN.

“You can’t get any help at all because you’re in the middle of nowhere,” Fuiava told CNN.

Miraculously, Fuiava and Appel were kept alive on a year’s stock of dry goods, including oatmeal, rice and pasta.

The pair also had a water purifier, CNN reports.

The two women along with their dogs survived two separate shark attacks, they told CNN.

“And both of them … we actually thought it was lights out … and they were horrific,” said Appel.

The two told CBS News that during one of the shark encounters, they told the dogs not to bark.

“The sharks could hear us breathing,” one of the women told CBS News.

The first attack happened when the Sea Nymph reportedly veered into a pack of tiger sharks. Appel said another shark came the next night, slamming itself against the hull of the ship.

“We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught,” she said.

“There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day … If tonight is your last night. If the storm that’s approaching is going to bring down the rig,” Appel said.

Appel and Fuiava reportedly sent distress signals out for 98 days.

CNN reports they were initially spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel after nearly five months lost at sea.

The Navy reportedly saw the boat on Tuesday, approximately 900 miles southeast of Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan, the USS Ashland was near the area on routine deployment. It reached the pair’s sailboat on Wednesday.

As the rescuers reached the damaged sailboat, the women from Honolulu, Hawaii, reportedly greeted rescuers by blowing kisses while their dogs, Zeus and Valentine, wearing bright yellow life jackets, barked out of excitement.

Their sailboat is right now drifting out to sea and is no longer seaworthy, CNN reports.

“I’m grateful for their service to our country … They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the Navy] on the horizon was pure relief,” Appel said.

“There’s different sunrises and sunsets every day … and you’re around for a reason, but you may as well use the time to do something beneficial.”

[Featured image: U.S. Navy]