Last month, I wrote about the burglar who brought his infant offspring along with him on a job, which is to say, a burglary. It is fair to say, and thus I am saying, that San Diego parents Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, presumably known as “The Sailing Kaufmans” in honor of “The Biking Vogels,” make that burglar look like the Huxtables from “The Cosby Show.”
Oh, they are loving parents I’m sure, just like the doting professionals played by Bill Cosby and Felcia Rashad in the iconic sitcom. The problem is that they don’t have the sense bestowed by nature on the average adult lemur. Mom and Dad Kaufman brought their 1-year-old daughter Lyra and her 3-year-old sister, Cora along with them as they embarked in March on the great adventure of sailing across the Pacific as the first leg of a planned circumnavigation of the globe.
In a 36-foot sailboat.
With a toddler.
And an infant.
I will add to this completely reasonable description the additional labels of irresponsible parents and dangerously self-obsessed child abusers. I would say the same if the great adventure were completely successful and they got their pictures on the cover of People, US, or “Incompetent Parenting Monthly.” It wasn’t, but that doesn’t matter, nor is it critical to my verdict that the children are still alive and well. Taking them on this inherently perilous journey was far more dangerous than what Nehemiah Gonzalez, the burglar who couldn’t find child care, did, and far less defensible than the six years of indentured servitude on bicycles that the world-trekking Vogels inflicted on their young boys. Child services removed Gonzalez’s infant daughter from his tender care, and I’d like to hear one good reason why the same protective actions shouldn’t be undertaken on behalf of Lyra and Cora. The odds of them making it to adolescence are not good, if this is how the Kaufmans treat their kids.
This time, at least, the children were rescued, but it took a Navy warship, courtesy of your taxes and mine, to do it. Little Lyra developed a fever and a rash was circumnavigating her body, and her parents had run out of ideas for treating it. The Kaufmans issued a satellite call for help to the U.S. Coast Guard after their sailboat, Rebel Heart. lost its steering and radio about 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Would the fever have been sufficient to alarm the Kaufmans if the sailboat was still functioning? Who knows, with these geniuses. Their thought processes are a mystery.
So four California Air National Guard members had to parachute into the ocean to rescue the family and its sick child. The rescuers treated the baby, then put the family on an inflatable boat that took them to the USS Vandegrift. It was a great adventure, though neither child will remember it, just like they wouldn’t remember the successful world tour if it had happened.
The shameless parents issued this jaw-dropping statement from the ship:
“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, and 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. 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. We are proud of our choices and our preparation.”
Translation: “If we aren’t stopped, we will keep doing this kind of thing until we get our kids killed, and we’re proud of it. Yes, we are insane. Please help us, because we can’t be trusted with sharp objects, much less children and 36-foot sailboats.”
At least the children have some sensible relatives. Wait, scratch that. Charlotte Kaufman’s sister, Sariah Kay English, told reporters that when she first learned of the trip, she “thought it was nuts.” But, she said, the couple was always “careful.” “They were not going into this blind. I knew they were doing this wisely,” English said. So idiocy runs in the family on the mother’s side, then. Bulletin to Aunt Sariah: Taking infants and toddlers on 36-foot sailboat trips around the world is neither “careful.” nor “wise.” The words you were looking for are “unbelievably irresponsible,” “criminally reckless” or perhaps “stupid beyond description.” The words you should have uttered to your sister and her husband were these: “I’ll take care of the kids, or if you insist on taking them on this dangerous trip, I’m calling the police, the news media and child services. Your choice.”
There is no way to be “careful” when it comes to proper regard for children that young on an ocean-going sailboat. No degree of care will guarantee against rogue waves, the Perfect Storm, pirates, hungry Krakens, illnesses, accidents and mechanical failure. It is irresponsible, indeed bats, to put children in situations where professional medical attention will be unavailable for protracted periods, and every sensible, caring parents with sufficient intelligence to put their shoes on the correct feet knows this. Sailing around the world on a sailboat with young children is infinitely more dangerous than taking a child along on a burglary, and a rescue is likely to be a lot more expensive, too.
The Kaufman children belong in protective services until their parents get some common sense drilled into their heads. The Navy should send a bill for expenses to the couple, and insist on payment. That should keep them out of sailboats for a while, since the Rebel Heart sank, and at least give their children a chance to grow old enough, like Abby Sunderland, the intrepid 16-year-old amateur sailor whose parents thought was fine to send off on her own trip around the world, to enjoy the adventure that might kill them.