Family with two small children who abandoned the US for religious reasons and attempted to sail across the Pacific are rescued after THREE MONTHS lost at sea
- Gastonguay family left northern Arizona home in November to live on a boat in San Diego
- Set sail from San Diego in May for Kiribati, a tiny island nation 3,300 miles from the U.S.
- Parents carried newborn infant and three-year-old daughter with them
- Gastonguays believed they needed to flee U.S. because of acceptance of gays and abortion
- Their small boat was beset by storms and disabled within weeks
- Drifted at sea for nearly three months and ran low on supplies
- Was picked up by passing freighter and dropped off in Chile on Friday
An extremist religious family with two small children have been rescued after being lost of sea for nearly three months when they attempted to abandon the U.S. in a small boat and sail 3,300 miles to the Polynesian island nation of Kiribati.
The Gastonguays from northern Arizona set sail from San Diego in May with their newborn infant and 3-year-old daughter after deciding to 'take a leap of faith and see where God led us.' They believed that they needed to flee the nation because of what they see as government support for homosexuality and abortions and restrictions on their religious freedom.
The family were almost immediately beset by storms that overwhelmed their small vessel and their limited nautical knowledge. They drifted for months and were running law on supplies before they were picked up by a passing tanker.
On Friday the family landed in Chile and are expected to be flow home today on flights book by the U.S. State Department.
Rescued: Hannah Gastonguay, her baby Rahab, husband Sean and the couple's 3-year-old daughter Ardith, were lost at sea for nearly three months
The months-long journey has been 'pretty exciting' and 'little scary at certain points,' 26-year-old Hannah Gastonguay told The Associated Press by telephone on Saturday.
She said they wanted to go to Kiribati because 'we didn't want to go anywhere big.' She said they believed the island to be 'one of the least developed countries in the world.'
Kiribati is a group of islands just off the equator and the international date line about halfway between Hawaii and Australia - more than 3,000 miles from the U.S. coastline. The total population is just over 100,000 people of primarily Micronesian descent.
The nation has a long history with missionaries and is 96percent Christian. It has a higher Human Development Index than South Africa or India.
Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don't believe in 'abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,' she said.
'We were in the thick of it, but we prayed. Being out on that boat, I just knew I was going to see some miracles.'
Hannah Gastonguay, 26, on being lost at sea with her two children
U.S. 'churches aren't their own,' Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.
Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being 'forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don't agree with.'
The Gastonguays weren't members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.
'The Bible is pretty clear,' she said.
The family moved in November from Ash Fork, Arizona, to San Diego, where they lived on their boat as they prepared to set sail. She said she gave birth to the couple's 8-month-old girl on the boat, which was docked in a slip at the time.
In May, Hannah, her 30-year-old husband Sean, his father Mike, and the couple's daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and baby Rahab set off. They wouldn't touch land again for 91 days, she said.
Across the sea: This is the remarkable journey of the Gastonguay family, who put to sea in May and is returning home on Sunday
She said at first, 'We were cruising.'
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 and more damage, leaving them unable to make progress.
They could have used a sail called a genoa, she said, but they risked snapping off the mast and losing their radio and ability to communicate.
'They were looking for a kind of adventure; they wanted to live on a Polynesian island but they didn't have sufficient expertise to navigate adequately.'
Chilean police prefect Jose Luis Lope
They had been on the ocean for about two months and were low on supplies. They were out of food and were down to 'some juice and some honey.' She said they were able to catch fish, but they didn't see any boats.
Still, we 'didn't feel like we were going to die or anything. We believed God would see us through,' she said.
At one point a fishing ship came into contact with them but left without providing assistance. A Canadian cargo ship came along and offered supplies, but when they pulled up alongside it, 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.'
They watched the surrounding storms disperse, and 'next thing you know the sun is out. It's amazing.'
Rescued: Sean Gastonguay, seen here with his 3-year-old daughter Ardit, is lucky to be alive after being rescued by a Venezuelan tanker and a Japanese freighter
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,"' she said.
They were on the Venezuelan ship for about five days before transferring to the Japanese cargo ship, where they were for nearly three weeks before landing in Chile on Friday. The Chilean newspaper Las Ultimas Noticias reported the story of their arrival.
'They were looking for a kind of adventure; they wanted to live on a Polynesian island but they didn't have sufficient expertise to navigate adequately,' police prefect Jose Luis Lopez, who took the family's statement at San Antonio, told the newspaper.
Sean Gastonguay's brother Jimmy, who lives in Arizona, said he had provided a description of the family's vessel to the U.S. Coast Guard and exchanged emails with them once they were picked up by the first boat.
'There was some concern, but we were hoping for the best, and they eventually popped up,' he said. He was able to keep track of the family with the help of the Coast Guard as they were transferred from ship to ship.
'We're all happy. We have good peace of mind now,' he said.
Hannah Gastonguay said the family will now 'go back to Arizona' and 'come up with a new plan.'
Read more: Gastonguay family abandoned U.S. for religious reasons and sailed for Kiribati; was lost at sea for 3 months | Mail Online
Wiki information on Kiribati for anyone who wants a better idea of the family's idea of paradise. It's not somewhere that I'd want to move to.
Kiribati - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia