The mother and father of a sick infant rescued at sea during an aborted around-the-world family sailing adventure have found themselves in the position of having to defend themselves against accusations of bad parenting.
Charlotte and Eric Kaufmann and their two daughters, ages 1 and 3, were rescued earlier this month hundreds of miles off the western coast of Mexico by California Air National Guard, US Navy and Coast Guard personnel after their 32-foot sailboat, Rebel Heart, became disabled about 1,000 miles from Cabo San Lucas.
The family had embarked from their San Diego home on what was supposed to be an around-the-world sailing journey less than two weeks earlier. Their infant daughter, who had been treated for salmonella shortly before the trip, had fallen ill with rash, fever and diarrhea.
The Kaufmanns are back safe and sound in San Diego. But before they even touched dry land, Charlotte and Eric have been heavily criticized for what some people are calling poor parenting decisions.
Some experienced sailors have questioned or criticized the Kaufmann’s sailing abilities. Oceanside, California fisherman James Gardner, who spent 45 years at sea, told the New York Times that obtaining Coast Guard captain’s certification, which Eric Kaufmann had, amounted to “cereal box certification.”
Matt Rutherford, who has completed several solo trips across the seas, told the New York Times that he would never take a baby with him on one of his dangerous journeys.
“I have a rule in mind that I would never bring a kid less than 2 years old,” said Rutherford.
Social media is also abuzz with both supporters and critics of the Kaufmanns.
“Either you want to be a free spirit and travel the world, or you want to raise a family,” commented Bree Snow on Rebel Heart’s Facebook page. “Time to pay back the government for your catastrophe, then grow the hell up and get your priorities straight.”
While acknowledging that the ocean has the power to “overcome those who live on or near it,” the Kaufmanns have said they are “proud” of their “choices and preparation.”
“We understand there are those who question our decision to sail with our family, but please know that this is how our family has lived for seven years,” the couple said from the USS Vandergrift.
There are no plans to charge the Kaufmanns with any crime, nor will the couple have to repay the government for the cost of their family’s rescue, the Associated Press reports.