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Continued: Family from US lost at sea for months to return home, went on journey to start new life

  • Article by: GREG MOORE , Associated Press
  • Last update: August 11, 2013 - 3:10 PM

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."

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 told the newspaper. Lopez took the family's statement in San Antonio, Chile, where the Japanese ship had dropped off the family.

Mauricio Araneda, the governor in Chile's San Antonio province, told the AP that the family "had zero knowledge and experience in navigation."

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."

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  • Hannah Gastonguay, holding her baby Rahab, is followed by her husband Sean and the couple's 3-year-old daughter Ardith, as they disembark in the port city of San Antonio, Chile, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013. The northern Arizona family was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion. But just weeks into their journey the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken...

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