Welcome to this episode of The Visual Story!
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiva were residents of Hawaii and met in December 2016. Within a week of meeting, they had planned an 18-day trip, sailing to Tahiti. Watch to learn how their adventure quickly turned into a nightmare as they battle with the numerous life-threatening ordeals offered by the vast ocean.
All researched information provided in this video are obtained from publicly available online sources.
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May 3rd 2017, Honolulu Hawaii, Jennifer Appel: an experienced sailor along with her partner Tasha Fuiava set sail to Tahiti, a journey of over 2600 miles. It will take them around three weeks to complete this distance. They have been planning this trip for over a year now and finally, the day has arrived. With enough food to last for five months and two beloved dogs named Valentine and Zeus, they embark on an expedition that was going to change their lives…forever.
Their very first night into the journey, they got into a Force 11 storm. If you are not familiar with this term, then let me break it down to you. According to the Beaufort scale, Force 11 would be an extremely violent storm with 70 miles per hour wind speed, with 30 feet high waves to imagine this, you can try sticking out your hand out of the window the next time when you are on a highway. Anything stronger than Force 11, also known as Force 12 would be considered a hurricane. But how did a tiny 50 feet boat survived during such a powerful disaster that lasted for the next three days? I would say… Sheer luck.
With exceptionally dangerous waves created by high-speed wind, they lost total control over their boat, The Sea Nymph, a rather fitting name to describe their urge to explore the gigantic sea. Their best chance of surviving was to stay below deck and hold on to anything sturdy because with very large amounts of airborne spray almost blinding them, not to mention strong waves that completely overpowered their boat, it was useless to steer the boat in any direction. This was made even more difficult considering the conditions are even worse at night making it enough to create an adrenaline rush throughout your body with your heart pounding out of your chest. But in case you want to survive, you wouldn’t have time to be apprehensive. Miraculously, they survived the three days long storm, but of course, not without a serious complication that would further push them towards a life-threatening situation: Their boat was compromised.
You see, these conditions were not particularly merciful to their boat and it was almost impossible to think that they would have gotten through it without any damage. The boat holding the spreader to the root column at the mast bent, and they soon realized that it was starting to shake. At this point, they were 18 hours away from their starting spot. Now, these are serious enough circumstances to make anyone halt their journey immediately and head back, considering they were merely a day away from Hawaii. But why didn’t they? Well, surviving a force 11 storm kind of lifted their spirits thinking that if they can withstand such extreme conditions, then they can certainly reach their next stop, Christmas Island, Kiribati, where the boat was to be repaired.
The Kiribati Island is a receded volcanic mountain in the middle of the deep Pacific Ocean and there is always an entrance. The boats enter or exit the island during high tide and it’s an extremely protected anchorage. With one broken spreader, they managed to reach the island on May 17 but soon realized that their boat was too big to get through their gateway and hence they were unable to anchor at the harbor. During these desperate times, they decided to continue heading towards South in an attempt to reach The Northern Cooks Island, a little over 100 miles north of the port of entry Penrhyn. After that, the Sea Nymph would then bound for Honolulu, but the forces of nature weren’t going to let them win just yet.
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