Two women in a yacht were rescued this week (opens new window), adrift a long way off the coast of Japan. Their story is that they left Honolulu for Tahiti, and immediately hit a storm which damaged their boat. After drifting for 6 months at sea, and being attacked by sharks, they were eventually rescued by the US Navy.
However, skeptics have started to notice (opens new window) a lot of holes in their story.
Firstly, the storm that they encountered just after they left Honolulu was supposedly 3 days long. This storm can't be seen in weather satellite images, which are taken every 3 hours, and wasn't reported by anyone else.
They say that all 6 of their forms of communication stopped working, but that they decided their final backup - an emergency GPS beacon - was not needed. Apparently they decided to only use it if they thought they were within 24 hours of dying.
They gave a story about sharks that has experts scratching their heads. The story describes tiger sharks in the deep ocean trying to sink the boat by causing waves and jumping out of the water to attack it, hunting in packs and teaching their young how to hunt. None of this matches what we know of how tiger sharks behave.
There's a line of green growth on the side of the boat about half a metre above the water line - if they were drifting, rather than sailing, the boat would be upright and this growth would have occurred down at the water line.
Apparently the pair were planning for a month long journey to Tahiti, but packed enough food for a year for themselves and 2 dogs.
They gave stories of why they were unable to pull into the various islands they passed on their journey that don't stack up, and they also refused help from passing fishermen after a short tow.
It remains to be seen what their motivation is for faking at least some parts of their story, and it's fun to read some of the ideas people have. Maybe they're looking for attention. Maybe they were running drugs, and didn't want help as they'd be found out (this one also explains why the growth on the outside of the boat is so high - the boat would have sat lower in the water when it was laden with several extra tonnes). Maybe the experienced pilot wanted to kidnap her friend.
Although we shouldn't take any of this speculation seriously, for now it seems pretty likely that the story the world has been told has been embellished to make it sound more exciting than reality.