published Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Family stranded at sea is back in Arizona

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, in this Aug. 9, 2013, file photo.
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, in this Aug. 9, 2013, file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PHOENIX — A family is back in Arizona after their attempt to relocate to a tiny island left them lost at sea for weeks.

Sean Gastonguay told KTVK-TV that his family's boat is gone -- presumably at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

He said he now has to find work to repay the $10,000 that the family borrowed from the U.S. State Department to fly back from Chile.

The family moved from Ash Fork, Ariz., to San Diego last year.

They left there in May on a voyage for Kiribati (keer-ih-BAHS') to leave behind what they consider government interference in religion.

Storms damaged their boat and left it adrift.

"The deck started separating from the hull, that was toward the end of it, the water would come in so we were constantly pumping and lots of stuff was getting damaged," Gastonguay told KTVK.

However, Gastonguay said he believes his family was never in real danger and has been blessed with meeting many new friends.

They made it to Chile after being picked up by a fishing vessel and transferred to a cargo ship.

Gastonguay, his wife Hannah, daughters 3-year-old Ardith and newborn Rahab, and Sean's dad, Mike, were headed to the island nation of Kiribati.

Kiribati is a group of islands just off the Equator and the international date line about halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The population is just over 100,000 people of primarily Micronesian descent.

"They say it's the least developed island so I figured undeveloped, less corruption," explained Gastonguay.

He said he hopes his family can take another adventure once his daughters are older.

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