Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Family of five's amazing survival - found God, but not Kiribati

by Michael Smith, Op Ed/Sail-World Cruising on 12 Aug 2013
Storm after storm after storm .. .
All sailors who go to sea have reasons - the freedom, escape from the ratrace, maybe setting a record or finding new worlds. But one family had their own unusual reason, to escape the realities of America, where they had lived in Arizona, and 'find God' by sailing to the remote islands of Kiribati. Instead, they became lost and drifted for over two months around the Pacific, their supplies gradually running out.

The Gastonguay family, including their two small children and the children's grandfather, started a pilgrimage of faith that could have been deadly for them all, but their belief that the 'all mighty' would protect them was, apparently warranted.


On Saturday 26 year-old Hannah Gastonguay told the Guardian Express how she and her husband decided to take their 'leap of faith' and see where 'God led us.' The couple took their two small children and Hannah’s father-in-law on a journey that was meant to culminate on the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May of this year.

But instead of finding their island paradise, the family were buffeted by storms until they lost their bearings and drifted for weeks in the middle of nowhere. As their supplies dwindled and the small vessel sustained more damage, their faith never wavered and no-one on the tiny boat feared death.

The Gastonguays are not members of any church, and Hannah said that their faith and belief came from reading the Bible and through prayer. 'The Bible is pretty clear,' she said.

Like America's pilgrim forefathers, the Gastonguay’s felt that Christian churches in America had it all wrong, and they wanted to be free from what they saw as a religious system corrupted by the government.

The family chose the tiny island of Kiribati because, 'we didn’t want to go anywhere big.' Their research had disclosed that the tiny nation was 'one of the least developed countries in the world.'

The family made their decision and moved in November, 2012 from Ash Fork, Arizona, to San Diego, California. The heavily pregnant Hannah gave birth to their youngest child, eight month-old daughter Rahab while they prepared the boat for its journey. The small family lived on board while they got vessel ready.

In May 2013, Hannah, her husband, 30-year-old Sean, the couple’s two daughters, three year-old Ardith and baby Rahab, along with Sean’s dad Mike, set sail for the tiny island.

A few short weeks into their journey, the Gastonguay’s began to be hit by multiple storms that put them off-course and damaged their small boat. They wound up drifting at sea for weeks, stalled in their journey and hopelessly unable to proceed.

Speaking to the press via the telephone, Hannah said how, when the journey started, they felt that, 'We were cruising.' But after two weeks things changed and 'when we came out there, storm, storm, storm.'

Their boat had taken a pounding from the weather and they set course for the Marquesas Islands. But they couldn’t make any real headway. The family found themselves in a 'twilight zone,' with their boat suffering further damage. They were stuck.

The family had been on the ocean for almost two months and their supplies were running out. They had no food and were down to 'some juice and some honey.' Hannah says that they caught fish but didn’t see any other boats. She said that at no time did they fear for their lives, it 'didn’t feel like we were going to die or anything. We believed God would see us through.'

They had a couple of 'false starts' that pointed to rescue, a fishing ship came into contact with them but didn’t provide any help. Later a Canadian cargo ship came along and offered them supplies, but as they pulled up to the ship, the two vessels collided and their tiny ship was damaged even further.

Before they were finally rescued, Hannah said that their craft was hit by 'squall after, squall, after squall.' 'We were in the thick of it, but we prayed,' she added, 'Being out on that boat, I just knew I was going to see some miracles.'

Despite the storms’ fury, their faith was rewarded, Hannah said, 'next thing you know the sun is out. It’s amazing.'

Eventually, their boat was spotted by a helicopter from a Venezuelan fishing vessel, which then took the family on board. Hannah said, 'The captain said, ‘Do you know where you’re at? You’re in the middle of nowhere!’'

After spending five days on the Venezuelan ship, they transferred to a Japanese cargo ship that took them to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio. The Chilean newspaper Las Ultimas Noticias reported the story of their arrival.

The small Christian family who got lost at sea and found God, have all had flights home arranged by U.S. Embassy officials. According to the Associated Press, Hannah said that their journey was, 'pretty exciting' and 'little scary at certain points.' Hannah also said the family will 'go back to Arizona' and 'come up with a new plan.'

Wildwind 2016 660x82Barz Optics - Melanin LensesProtector - 660 x 82

Related Articles

Bavaria Yachts to introduce Cruiser 34 and Nautitech 46
The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina The Cruiser 34 will be on show at the Bavaria Yachts display at the Strictly Sail boat show at Bayside’s Miamarina, from February 16th to 20th.
Posted on 13 Feb
Unique Transatlantic Sailing Event - Building friendship across oceans
Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Sailing in the wake of the great explorers, international friendship and understanding is at the core of this once in a lifetime adventure - The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, organised to celebrate Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
Posted on 10 Feb
Frigid flying – Coast Guard aircrews take on New England Winter
Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. Freezing rain? Teeth-chattering temperatures? Limited visibility? Coast Guard aircrews are still ready to fly. At Air Station Cape Cod, aviation maintenance and electronic technicians work around the clock to ensure the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters are prepared and ready to launch. There is one thing the maintenance crews and pilots cannot control: winter weather.
Posted on 9 Feb
On board interview with Lisa Blair - solo Antartica circumnavigation
So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. So far, Lisa is tracking very well in her attempt to become the first woman to sail solo around Antartica. After the setbacks of a delayed departure due to gremlins in the electronics, we are delighted to have these answers from her on board. She is well and enjoying her time. Climate Action Now, her Hick 50, left Albany in Western Australia on January 22, 2017.
Posted on 8 Feb
Yachting cartoonist Mike Peyton dies at 96
“The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist” died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. Mike Peyton, dubbed “The World’s Greatest Yachting Cartoonist”, died on January 25, 2017 just five days after his 96th birthday. A modest, shy man, he eschewed the spotlight and seemed unaware of the esteem which in sailors all around the world held him.
Posted on 27 Jan
Zhik Xeflex® - your shield against cold environments
This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. This radiant barrier mid-layer nearly defies description. How do you make a water resistant garment that really breathes, yet reflects your own body heat back to you? Where do you find a compression resistant and extremely insulating filling that is nowhere near as bulky as the Michelin Man, yet gives you that kind of warmth and comfort?
Posted on 17 Jan
Sounds like a boat - Lisa Blair's departure delayed due to electronics
Final preparations of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue Final preparations and safety checks of her yacht, Climate Action Now by Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair have uncovered an electrical issue.
Posted on 15 Jan
Lisa Blair starts Solo Circumnavigation of Antarctica
Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Over 3,500 people have climbed Mount Everest, over 500 have rowed across the various oceans and 12 people have landed on the moon. Only two men have sailed solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica. Sydney-based Lisa Blair, 32, intends to become the first woman, the fastest and the third person in history to conquer such a challenge.
Posted on 14 Jan
When whales meet sails
CAMPER helmsman Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with whale in middle of North Atlantic Ocean. Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes
Posted on 8 Jan
Potential instability in Atlantic Ocean water circulation system
One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict One of the world’s largest ocean circulation systems may not be as stable as today’s weather models predict, according to a new study. In fact, changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) — the same deep-water ocean current featured in the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” — could occur quite abruptly, in geologic terms, the study says.
Posted on 6 Jan