On May 3, 2017, two best friends embarked on the trip of a lifetime. Jennifer, Tasha, and their dogs set off on what they had hoped would be a dream of a voyage to the island of Tahiti, which was a common route for mariners. Jen and Tasha were off to a great start with their dogs, lots of food, and smooth seas ahead of them; they were excited to start their month-long journey.
Not long after they set course to Tahiti, they hit rocky seas. Quickly, the uneasy waves turned into roaring waters. While the women weren’t too concerned with the waves, they were hopeful that the storm would die down and they would soon be back on track. That’s when the most terrible and unexpected thing happened: the wind from the storm snapped their mast in pieces and the engine flooded. It would take days before they would even find this out as the waters were so rough that they were forced to stay inside the boat.
Days after the storm’s passing, they were able to evaluate the damage. Jen’s heart immediately sank when she saw her broken mast. She shared, “At that point, there was nothing we could do. Without an engine or a mast, we had no way to move. It was only up to the waters where we would go next.” Well, the waters weren’t exactly friendly to the crew…
It was later that they learned that the boat had drifted 5,000 miles off course. The two women and their dogs were missing for over five months. They had to let the water carry them since their boat was incapable of moving on its own. For months, the women and dogs remained captive in the boat. During several of those months, they were also surrounded by sharks.
Jen recalls nights when she knew the water was calm, but she still felt the boat move - and that was from the sharks swimming into the boat and banging it up. She admitted that she was fearful that the dogs’ barking would antagonize the sharks, but luckily, the boat remained a safe barrier.
Over the next five months, the crew would survive with a year’s worth of oatmeal, rice, pasta and water purifier. They would take turns watching; Jen would take the day’s watch and Tasha would take the night. Tasha recalls several nights when she would see ships in the distance and send up flares as distress symbols. Sadly, none saw the signals…
They remained lost until, one day, a US Navy vessel was in the waters between Guam and Japan. Jen remembers the day as this: “When I saw the boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leaped because I knew that we were about to be saved, because I honestly believed that we were going to die in the next 24 hours.” Truly this must have been an overwhelming experience!
The dogs are just as happy today as they were day one and Jennifer says that they will definitely be on the next journey with them. Both women are grateful for the unconditional companionship and love of their dogs and they say that the journey would have been unbearable without them.
Thanks to their dogs, the water purifier, food, and the navy ship that saw them, the two women are headed home and, like true mariners, excited for their next trip!