Family with sick baby rescued at sea nears San Diego port on Navy ship

<i>This post has been updated, as indicated below.</i>

SAN DIEGO -- The sick baby whose rescue at sea required the assistance of the Coast Guard, Navy, and Air National Guard is set to return to San Diego on Wednesday aboard the Navy ship Vandegrift.

The girl’s condition has stabilized, officials said.

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman and their two daughters will disembark when the ship docks at Naval Air Station North Island to take on ordnance for an upcoming deployment.

RELATED: Parents of sick 1-year-old defend sailing trip after Navy rescue


[Updated, 9:05 a.m. April 9: The ship will then sail across San Diego Bay to its home port at the 32nd Street Naval Station, where dozens of journalists will await. The Kaufmans are seeking to avoid the media gaggle.]

The Kaufmans were on a worldwide sailing journey when 1-year-old Lyra began suffering from high temperature and a severe rash. The family sent out a distress message Thursday to the Coast Guard.

The family’s 36-foot sailboat, Rebel Heart, was approximately 1,000 miles from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The sailboat was powerless and drifting.

The decision to take Lyra and her 3-year-old sister Cora on such a lengthy and arduous journey has subjected the Kaufmans to a torrent of criticism -- particularly on websites that permit anonymous, hard-edged comments.

In response, the Kaufmans, once aboard the Vandegrift, issued an email statement defending their decision: "...when we departed on this journey more than a year ago, we were then and remain today confident that we prepared as well as any sailing crew would.”

The Kaufmans lived in San Diego until moving a year ago to Mexico, where Lyra was born.

Eric Kaufman, a Navy veteran, works in the financial services industry and had become dissatisfied, according to his blog, with the “house-car-job-complex with its nine-to-five office routine.” Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and former high school teacher.

Their blogs suggest the Kaufmans are devoted parents and restless adventurers. Eric Kaufman wrote on his blog about the preparation for the trip:


“We’ve finally started reading about the islands from Polynesia to Tonga that we’re planning on checking out: it’s been a boost to our spirits to realize that we’re not just crossing 3,000 miles of water for...grins. There is indeed, hopefully, a warm light at the end of the tunnel that involves a pleasant anchorage and some type of rum-based beverage.”

He also wrote about taking Cora on sailboat trips between San Diego and Santa Catalina Island where Cora “rode out a gale in that run, twice, when she was 3 months old.”

By late Thursday, four para-rescuers from the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing had parachuted into the water near the sailboat and were aboard to provide emergency care for Lyra. Her condition quickly stabilized, officials said.

On Sunday morning, the family and the four para-rescuers were brought aboard the Vandegrift, which was on a routine training mission and had been redirected to the family’s location. Once the family was safe, the Rebel Heart was sunk to prevent it from becoming a hazard to navigation.


While many of the Kaufman’s critics were masked by anonymity, one who went public was Charlotte Kaufman’s brother, James Moriset, who termed as crazy the parents’ decision to take two small children on such a trip.

“I saw this coming,” Moriset told KNSD-NBC7. “I saw the potential for every bit of it. I’m just glad they’re alive and my little niece is being taken care of, which is cool.”

Twitter: @LATsandiego