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Monday, April 7, 2014

San Diego Couple Rescued in Ocean Defend Decision to Sail Across Pacific

A Navy task force was behind the rescue of a California couple.

A California couple, rescued from their 36-foot sailboat in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday after their infant daughter became ill, defended their decision to sail into open seas with two young children.

As they met an avalanche of online criticism about setting sail two weeks ago from Mexico to New Zealand, the couple issued a statement from aboard the frigate that helped rescue them, the USS Vandegrift. The Navy, the Coast Guard and the California Air National Guard were involved in the rescue.

In this photo provided by the Coast Guard, sailors from the USS Vandegrift assisted in the rescue of a family with a sick infant in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.United States Coast Guard, via Associated PressIn this photo provided by the Coast Guard, sailors from the USS Vandegrift assisted in the rescue of a family with a sick infant in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday.

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, 34, who have been documenting their sailing adventures on their blogs and on Twitter, explained that this was how their “family has lived for seven years,” and they remained confident they were “prepared as well as any sailing crew could.”

“The ocean is one of the greatest forces of nature, and it always has the potential to overcome those who live on or near it,” the Kaufmans said in the statement. “We are proud of our choices and our preparation, and while we are disappointed that we lost our sailboat and our home, we remain grateful for those who came to our aid and those family and friends who continue to encourage and support us.”

On their blogs, the Kaufmans explained how they bought a Hans Christian 36 in 2005 with the goal of sailing around the world.

In 2012, they left San Diego to begin their journey. They went down to Baja on the Pacific side and crossed the Sea of Cortez to mainland Mexico. In spring 2013, they went back across to the Baja Peninsula. Mr. Kaufman posted a YouTube video showing clips from the family’s summer in 2013 aboard the Rebel Heart in the Sea of Cortez. He said the family visited La Paz, Puerto Escondido, Agua Verde, San Evaristo, Isla Partida, Ensenada Grande, Balandra and Candeleros.

Video clips from the family’s 2013 summer.

In March, the Kaufmans were bound for the South Pacific islands and eventually New Zealand. Both Eric and Charlotte Kaufman used Twitter to outline their preparations and their blogs to document their journey.

On her blog, Ms. Kaufman acknowledged the challenges of sailing with two young children, including a 13-month-old, but consistently displayed confidence in their decision and determination to make it to Bora Bora.

“Six days at sea,” she wrote on March 25. “In six days I can’t possibly describe the range of emotions I have felt so far: anger, joy, sickness, exhaustion, exhilaration, wonder, awe, contentment, peace.”

She wrote how her 3-year-old daughter talked about missing her friends, then told her, “But I like this trip, mommy, I like it a lot.

“Well, that’s good, because we have a long way to go still,” Ms. Kaufman said she replied.

She said that having a 13-month-old aboard was absolutely the most challenging part of the trip. “You are vocal, and curious, and BUSY, just as you should be,” she wrote. “WE are the nutballs who decided to set to sea with you. Trust me, we have no one else to blame for bringing a 13 month old to sea than ourselves. I keep telling myself that Bora Bora will be worth it, worth what I’m now calling ‘extreme parenting.’ ”

The couple sounded a distress call last week when they ran into troubles with the boat and their daughter broke out in a severe rash and fever and was not responding to medication, prompting the rescue effort. The sailboat had lost steering and communication abilities about 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.