After sea rescue, Kaufmans defend taking children on sailing voyage

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman with daughters Lyra, left, and Cora. The Kaufmans have defended their decision to take the girls on a round-the-world sailing voyage that was cut short when Lyra became ill. The family was rescued by the Coast Guard, Navy and California Air National Guard.
(Uncredited / AP)

SAN DIEGO — The Kaufmans are again defending their decision to attempt a round-the-world sailing venture with their two young children — a voyage that ended with the family being rescued hundreds of miles at sea when 1-year-old Lyra became sick.

In Twitter messages Thursday, Charlotte Kaufman and her husband, Eric, said they “have been happy with the maritime life we have been able to share with our daughters. ... Children have been sailing on boats for a long time and the modern cruising family dates back several decades.”

The couple thanks the crew of the Navy ship Vandegrift and the rescuers of the California Air National Guard, as well as people who have offered “kind words and support.”

But they also address critics who say the parents were negligent in taking two young children on such a long and arduous voyage:


“For those who are more critical, we ask that you kindly await all the details. There have been many inaccuracies reported through various media related to our daughter’s health, the vessels’ condition and our overall maritime situation.”

Cannot express how grateful we are to these men of the @129RQW for their courage, professionalism, and bravery.— Charlotte Kaufman (@charlottesails) April 10, 2014

The Kaufmans had set sail two weeks earlier from Mexico on a journey that was to take them first to South Pacific islands. Charlotte is a former teacher, Eric a software development technician who worked for a San Diego insurance company.

On April 3, about 1,000 miles off Cabo San Lucas, the Kaufmans sent a distress signal to the Coast Guard. Lyra was sick and their 36-foot-sailboat, Rebel Heart, was crippled.

By that night, four rescue specialists from the California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing had parachuted near the sailboat and were on the vessel providing emergency care for Lyra. On Sunday morning, the family - Eric, Charlotte, Lyra and 3-year-old Cora - was transferred to the Vandegrift, which had been redirected from a training mission.

The family had lived for the past year in Mexico, where Lyra was born. After they were rescued, their sailboat was scuttled to keep it from being a hazard to navigation.

On his blog, Eric Kaufman, who worked as a volunteer firefighter and Red Cross volunteer, shows disdain for the “nine-to-five office routine.”


While in Mexico, he wrote, “I’ve surfed, paddle-boarded, scuba dived, hiked, ran, snorkled, crewed a race boat, gotten drunk, ran into old friends, met new friends, did other things I can’t put on this blog, lived in two apartments and raced down a lonely Mexican highway in the middle of the night with my wife in labor as a police pickup escorted us.”

On a social media site, Kaufman listed children at the top of things he cares about.

Twitter: @LATsandiego