A planned voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti aboard a 15 metre sailboat did not start well for two Honolulu women, who have been rescued after five months lost in the Pacific Ocean.
They ran into trouble on May 30 when bad weather flooded the engine with water, Appel said.
In a phone call with news media from the Ashland, Appel said they had sent a distress signal for 98 days with no response, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
They were thousands of miles in the wrong direction when a Taiwanese fishing vessel found them.
One night, a group of tiger sharks began attacking the vessel, and the next morning, a shark returned and rammed the boat again, Ms Appel said.
"I went downstairs with the boys and we basically laid huddled on the floor, and I told them not to bark because the sharks could hear us breathing", Appel said. "They saved our lives", said Appel, according to a statement from the Navy.
"When I asked Natasha, I told her I have no idea what's going to happen out there and she said, "That's OK, I've never sailed".
"We were just incredibly lucky that our hull was strong enough to withstand the onslaught ..."
Thanks to the advice of a local fisherman, they'd packed a year's worth of food and water purifiers in case of an emergency, but there was nothing they could have done to prepare for the sharks.
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"There is a true humility to wondering if today is your last day", Appel added. The boat was discovered Tuesday, about 900 miles southeast of Japan - which is thousands of miles away from Tahiti.
In Sasebo, Japan, the USS Ashland was near the area on routine deployment.
The Navy is always ready to "assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation", said the Ashland's top officer Cmdr.
Appel and Fuiava said they had no option but to carry on, so they tried to make the most of their time lost at sea.
They said they have no fear of getting back in the water for some more sailing. The women will remain on board the USS Ashland until its next port of call. "The pride and smiles we had when we saw (them) on the horizon was pure relief".
"We learned that we love the ocean, that we can persevere past the limits of what we thought was tolerable", Appel says.
"There's different sunrises and sunsets every day", Fuiava said.
"You may as well be doing something you enjoy when you're doing it, right?"