Anti-Gay Gastonguay Family Sets Sail from US, Trusts ‘God’ for Guidance, Gets Hopelessly Lost at Sea
A deeply religious Christian family from Arizona fed up with abortion, homosexuality, taxes and a “state-controlled church” decided to leave the US behind and set sail for the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati.
The Gastonguay family of Ash Fork placed their trust in Christian deity figure ‘God’ to to see them safely through their journey. They ended up dangerously lost at sea before being rescued by a Venezuelan fishing boat.
Hannah Gastonguay, 26, told the Associated Press that she and her 30-year-old husband, Sean Gastonguay, “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” after growing increasingly disillusioned by the direction in which American society is heading.
Gastonguay said her family strongly disapproves of “abortion, homosexuality [and] the state-controlled church.”
“Churches aren’t their own,” she asserted, adding that she deplored being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”
Although they don’t belong to any particular church, Gastonguay insisted that “the Bible is pretty clear” and that her family’s faith derives from Bible-reading and prayer.
All that prayer convinced the Gastonguays that they needed to leave wicked America behind and set sail for purer climes. They chose the tiny island nation of Kiribati, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean roughly halfway between Ecuador and Indonesia, because they “didn’t want to go anywhere big,” Hannah Gastonguay said.
Sean and his wife said goodbye to Ash Fork and, along with their 3-year-old daughter Ardith and Hannah’s father-in-law, set off for San Diego, where they prepared for their epic adventure. Hannah gave birth to the couple’s second daughter, Rahab, on the boat they purchased while it was still docked in San Diego. In May, the family set sail for Kiribati. They would spend the next three months at sea.
Their journey was smooth sailing at first, but within a couple of weeks their boat was getting incessantly pounded by one storm after another. They decided to head for the Marquesas Islands, southeast of their intended destination. That didn’t work out, either; the family found themselves in what Hannah described as a “twilight zone,” their boat getting more and more damaged as the days and the wind and the waves rolled on. After two months at sea, and making no progress, they began to run out of food. They saw no other boats.
Despite their calamitous fortune, Gastonguay told the AP that she “didn’t feel like we were going to die or anything.”
“We believed God would see us through,” she said.
But a fishing ship they sailed across offered no assistance. A Canadian cargo ship offered to share supplies, but the two vessels crashed into each other, further damaging the Gastonguay’s already battered boat. And through it all, it was “storm, storm, storm,” Gastonguay told the AP.
“Squall after squall after squall,” 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.”
Some time later, a helicopter from a Venezuelan fishing vessel spotted the distressed family and the boat’s captain came to their rescue.
“The captain said, ‘Do you know where you’re at? You’re in the middle of nowhere,'” Gastonguay said.
Five days later, the Gastonguays were transferred to a Japanese cargo ship, where they spent the next three weeks before arriving safely in Chile on Friday.
“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 official Jose Luis Lopez told the Chilean newspaper Las Últimas Noticias.
Hannah Gastonguay, who told the AP her family’s harrowing ordeal has been “pretty exciting” and a “little scary at certain points,” said they will return to Arizona and “come up with a new plan.”