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Family's sailing trip with baby spurs debate

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 9, 2014 at 8:01 am •  Published: April 9, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sariah English can't imagine the stress her sister's family endured after their sailboat broke down 900 miles off the Mexican coast while their 1-year-old daughter covered in a rash was vomiting and suffering from diarrhea and a fever.

All ended well: California Air National Guard members parachuted down and reached the 36-foot sailboat to rescue the family and help them on board a Navy warship, and their baby girl quickly responded to new medication for her salmonella-like symptoms. The warship carrying the family is expected to reach San Diego on Wednesday afternoon.

But Charlotte and Eric Kaufman's decision to sail around the world with their 1-year-old daughter, Lyra, and 3-year-old daughter, Cora, has struck a chord with parents — angering some who accuse them of endangering their children and drawing admiration from others for having the courage and determination to follow their dream.

"The rescuers have to risk their own lives to help people who do these kinds of stupid things on purpose, and I don't think that's right," said Margaret Dilloway, a San Diego novelist who has three children, adding that she thinks the family should have to foot part of the bill for the rescue operation. "They'll probably go on the Today Show to talk about this, and write a book about it, do a Mini-series and get 15 minutes of fame because that's how our country tends to reward people who choose recklessly to put themselves and their children in danger."

English doesn't question their decision: Sailing is their passion. It's what defines them. The family had lived aboard the sailboat, Rebel Heart, for seven years before authorities had to sink it because it was taking in water.

"People are going to criticize anybody's parenting of their children," she said. "Charlotte and Eric raise their children how they see fit. They are very concerned about child safety. That's their No. 1 concern and they did not do this blindly. They are responsible, good parents."

The Kaufmans do not wish to speak publicly once the warship arrives Wednesday to San Diego. They want to tend to their daughter first and get some rest, English said.

But they are aware of the criticism. Charlotte Kaufman and her husband, Eric Kaufman, a Coast Guard-licensed capitan, sent a statement defending their actions from the USS Vandegrift, saying "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 could."

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