Share This Page

Family of Christians lost at sea goes home

| Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

PHOENIX — The Christian family who fled the country because they were fed up with government interference in religion and became lost at sea, flew back home on Sunday as more details of their arduous journey emerged.

The Gastonguays — Hannah, 26; her 30-year-old husband, Sean; his father, Mike; and the couple's daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and 8-month-old Rahab — set sail from San Diego for Kiribati in May.

They wouldn't touch land again for 91 days.

At first, “we were cruising,” Hannah Gastonguay said. But within a couple of weeks “when we came out there, storm, storm, storm.”

The boat had taken a beating, and they decided to set course for the Marquesas Islands. Instead, they found themselves in a “twilight zone,” taking more damage.

After about two months at sea, they were down to “some juice and some honey.” She said they were able to catch fish. Still, we “didn't feel like we were going to die or anything. We believed God would see us through.”

A Canadian cargo ship came along and offered supplies, but when they pulled up alongside, the vessels bumped, and the smaller ship sustained even more damage.

They were getting hit by “squall after squall after squall.”

“We were in the thick of it, but we prayed,” she said. “Being out on that boat, I just knew I was going to see some miracles.”

Eventually, their boat was spotted by a helicopter that had taken off from a nearby Venezuelan fishing vessel, which ended up saving them.

“The captain said, ‘Do you know where you're at? You're in the middle of nowhere.' ”

They were transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and arrived in Chile on Friday.

Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said.

Hannah Gastonguay said the family will now “go back to Arizona” and “come up with a new plan.”

The Gastonguays are not members of any church; they read the Bible. Among other things, they didn't want to be “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.