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American Mariners Adrift for 5 Months Already Planning Next Trip

by Tim Stelloh and Alexander Smith /  / Updated 
Jennifer Appel, right, and Tasha Fuiava speak on the deck of the USS Ashland on Oct. 30, 2017, at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.Koji Ueda / AP

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The two American mariners rescued by the Navy after being adrift for five months said Monday that they would like to attempt their doomed voyage again next year.

Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava admitted they were not as prepared as they could have been for the 2,600-mile trip from their home in Hawaii to their planned destination of Tahiti.

 Jennifer Appel, right, and Tasha Fuiava sit with their dogs on the deck of the USS Ashland on Monday. Koji Ueda / AP

Fuiava is a novice sailor and although Appel has been sailing the Hawaiian islands for 10 years she described the pair as "landlubbers" and "greenhorns in the sailing world."

Nevertheless, when they reached dry land at a U.S. Naval base in southern Japan on Monday, they revealed they plan to sail the region again.

"We never got a chance to go to Tahiti, or Papeete, or Moorea," the 48-year-old Appel said, reeling off a list of destinations they had hoped to visit before their vessel became stricken in storms. "We still never got to see the 20,000 islands [of the South Pacific] so I think that would be the most fantastic trip for May of next spring."

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The women and their two dogs, Zeus and Valentine, were rescued by the USS Ashland last week some 900 miles southeast of Japan — about 5,000 miles from their intended destination of Tahiti.

They set sail on May 23 for a trip that should typically take a month. But their mast and engine soon failed, and daily distress calls and emergency flares were not received or seen by nearby vessels.

On their 99th day, a Taiwanese fishing boat spotted them. After trying — and failing — to tow the sailboat, the fishermen contacted the Coast Guard, and the Navy landing ship was soon dispatched.

Related: How Did They Survive 5 Months Lost at Sea? Planning and Luck

Appel and Fuiava said they would like to recover their damaged vessel, which was abandoned at sea, but if that was not possible Appel said they would like to build an "unsinkable, unbreakable boat."

Fuiava added that they plan to attempt the journey again "with the knowledge that we've acquired during these months."

The pair was also full of praise for their treatment aboard the Navy ship.

"This is on a top ten list," Appel said in a video posted by the Navy. "In a million years, I never thought that I would ever be on a Navy ship ... much less rescued by a warship."

She added: "We are honored to be here, and we are grateful for everything you've done for us."

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