Back in the end of October, the Navy pulled two American women and their dogs off a damaged sailboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after a Taiwanese fishing boat discovered them floating aimlessly at sea. The women claimed they had been lost for five months, fending off storms and shark attacks, and surviving on a mostly pasta diet.
Now, two weeks after their rescue, Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava say that the Taiwanese fishing vessel that supposedly saved them didn’t actually save them at all—it was trying to kill them.
“We were never ‘lost at sea.’ We knew where we were the entire time,” Appel told NBC this week. “While the media portrayed a rescue with the Taiwanese fishing vessel, they were actually the reason why we called for help.”
She added, “They tried to kill us during the night.”
According to Appel’s new story, the fishing boat intentionally rammed into their smaller sailboat and “tried to kill us during the night.” Afraid that the boat captain would realize they were calling for help, the women decided not to turn on their emergency distress beacon, which was apparently onboard the whole time. Instead, she claims she climbed onto a surfboard, floated to the fishing boat, and snuck aboard, where she was able to call the Coast Guard from a satellite phone.
“I was able to get on a surfboard and get on their boat, make an actual phone call. Because no one spoke English, it was easier and safer for me to relay the information to the US Coast Guard-Guam sector that we were in danger without them realizing what we were saying.”
The claim is just one of many strange twists the story has taken since the two were rescued last month. Aside from the presence of the distress beacon, the National Weather service said it had no record of a big storm at the time and place where the women claimed their boat was damaged. And scientists who study tiger shark behavior popped in to say that there’s “not an iota of accuracy” in Appel and Fuiava’s tale of sharks circling and ramming their boat.
Still, the duo seems to be sticking to their story. Appel told Matt Lauer on Today, “If you were there, you would say the same thing I did.”
It’s hard to know at this point whether the shark-and-storm-and-evil-fishermen story is true or a total fabrication, since weirder things have definitely happened out at sea.