Ariz. man speaks about ill-fated ocean journey

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by Steve Bodinet

azfamily.com

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 16 at 12:59 PM

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PHOENIX --  Sean Gastonguay, his wife, two young daughters and his father wanted to experience life outside the United States, so they left Ash Fork in northern Arizona, purchased an inexpensive sailboat in San Diego, Calif. and set sail for a group of islands in the South Pacific. 

Unfortunately, the ocean and Mother Nature had other plans.

"We sold our land, went to San Diego, bought a boat, stocked it, got ready and went," said Gastonguay.
 
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.
 
"They say it's the least developed island so I figured undeveloped, less corruption," explained Gastonguay.
 
Even though Gastonguay had little experience handling a sailboat, the first few weeks at sea went well until a series of violent storms rolled in, one after the other.
 
"Tropical storms, depressions, even small, I wouldn't say full blown hurricanes but clouds, 60 plus knot winds, circular clouds and waves from every direction...but the boat rides pretty good," said Gastonguay.
 
Still, Gastonguay, said their $6,500 sailboat was blown far off course and began to take on water.
 
"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," said Gastonguay.
 
So he decided after 66 days at sea to call for help, first being picked up by a Venezualian fishing boat which soon transferred the family to a Japanese cargo ship.
 
"We really didn't have to get on the fishing boat, it was just a matter of do I have enough food left to make the repairs and I didn't want to take any chances with the kids," Gastonguay said.
 
The family was taken to Chile where they had to borrow $10,000 from the U.S. State Department to fly back to Arizona. 
 
Gastonguay said by now his beloved sailboat is most likely at the bottom of the ocean. 
 
However, he believes his family was never in real danger and has been blessed with many new friends met on their amazing adventure at sea.

 

Religious Arizona family abandons US, gets lost at sea

 

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