Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava made headlines on Friday when they were rescued after spending five months stranded at sea.
The US women said they had been sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti when their sailboat engine failed as a result of rough weather in May, the ABC reports.
The women and their two dogs were rescued in the Pacific Ocean around 1500 kilometres south-east of Japan—far from their planned path. Their tale of survival included bad weather, a tiger shark attack, and a food shortage. Appel and Fuiava said they had been making daily distress radio calls two months into their voyage.
But now, the women have made international headlines again after doubts surfaced about their story.
As US ABC News reports, the women had an emergency beacon on their ship, but never chose to activate it.
Experienced sailor Appel told Coast Guard officials that they did turn on the ship’s Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon because they didn’t feel like they were in “imminent danger”. The beacon would have immediately provided search and rescue crews of their location.
“Our hull was solid, we were floating, we had food, we had water, and we had limited maneuverable capacity,” Appel said. “All those things did not say we are going to die. All that said it's going to take us a whole lot longer to get where we're going.”
Boating expert Linus Wilson has queried if the pair fabricated some of their claims.
“Several of Appel’s statements about her voyage do not check out and don’t ring true to many experienced sailors,” he proposed. “I think a reasonable person may start out thinking that Ms. Appel was just a foolish skipper, but it seems likely many events that she recounts may have been fabricated to sensationalize the story.”
The two women met in late 2016. A week later they decided to embark on a sailing trip, although Fuiava had no experience.