Monday, April 7, 2014

Rebel Heart Assistance
By Michael

Nine-hundred miles off the Mexican coast, the Kaufman family had no choice but to sink the boat that has been their home for the past seven years. I don’t know whether they carried hull insurance (we don’t carry hull insurance for Del Viento). I don’t know their financial situation (though I know they saved for years to make this attempt at their dream a reality). But I do know that a friend is soliciting financial support on their behalf. If you’re inclined to help the family with a donation, the information is here:


I’ve seen still pictures from their rescue and read the error filled news reports of their circumstances. I’ve read strong negative bias in news reports about the family’s decision to sail across an ocean with their children. I’ve read hateful comments from lay persons all over the internet. All of it hits close to home. For me and other cruisers I know, it evokes a bunch of emotion.

In The Right Stuff, author Tom Wolfe describes test pilots’ responses to the crashes of fellow pilots, a defensive response that tended to always assign blame to the other, fated pilot, as opposed to the experimental aircraft. This mindset was their assurance that they were in control up there, that so long as they had the skill to fly the plane, so long as they were better than the guy who bought the farm, they would be okay.

I tend towards the same mindset and have processed every bit of information I can from what is yet known of Charlotte’s and Eric’s circumstances, in the context of how I would have done better or done differently. But the truth is, I am no less likely to commit errors or fall prey to rotten luck than they are. That’s not to say that I don’t aim to make our own ocean crossing passage one day, just that it could have been us out there too.

I wish the crew of the former Rebel Heart all the best.



  1. Thanks for your comments, Michael. Eric being a former Navy Corpsman and holding a USCG Masters certificate are but two of the indications of how serious and responsible he was in taking on this off-shore passage. It's a bit disheartening to find some folks so quick to share their ill informed, negative judgements, when they haven't a clue regarding all the facts surrounding this unfortunate event. Good on the National Guard out of Moffett Field, the US Navy and the coordinating efforts of the USCG. I'm sure no one is more relieved regarding Lyra's recovery than her parents. I, too, wish the crew of the former Rebel Heart all the best. A special thanks to you and all the other cruisers who have shared the FB page soliciting donations and support for this family.

  2. Wow, I just say a Reuters headline "Rescued Sailboat Family returns to San Diego". It didn't say much but it wasn't *you* all. I hope you are not faced with such a challenge. We have been doing it land-based since July - we did not have to ditch a boat but we kinda ditched 2 jobs (over 12 wk each). You do what you have to do when there is a crisis, and you call on all available help. If I didn't know you then I might raise my eyebrows at this family!

  3. I was surprised to see their picture on the TV after 'knowing' them thru their blog for the last couple years. It is dismaying how judgemental internet people get and how much time they seem to set aside for judging. I am glad the Kaufman family is OK. They have had a hard year and I hope it all calms down for them.

  4. I really hope the best for the family, but I don't understand why they had to sink the boat with all that entails. was there no way for someone to get there and bring it back? It seams bad enough to have a sick kid, but to lose your home on top of it, along with the stupid crap from the media, and even stupider people, I am at a loss for words.


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