April 7, 2014

Rescued Infant Improves; Parents Defend Cruise

With their Hans Christian 36 slowly sinking behind them, the Kaufman family was transferred to the USS Vandegrift early yesterday morning.

© 2014 US Navy

In the aftermath of a dramatic offshore rescue yesterday morning, the Kaufman family is currently steaming ever closer to advanced medical care in San Diego aboard the USS Vandegrift. But as the health of one-year-old Lyra improves in the sick bay of the 453-ft warship, parents Eric and Charlotte, 35 and 34, find themselves the subject of both heartfelt sympathy and stern criticism for taking such small children on a 3,000-mile passage to French Polynesia.

According to press reports, prior to departing Mexico March 21 aboard their San Diego-based Hans Christian 36 Rebel Heart, Lyra had been treated by Mexican medical personnel for salmonella poisoning, but had been cleared by a local physician to travel. It is unclear if the baby’s current illness is related. Late last week she developed a fever and a rash covering most of her body, and wasn’t responding to medications. When the boat lost steering and radio communications last Thursday, roughly 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, the situation became a bona fide emergency. Eric, a former US Navy corpsman who holds a US Coast Guard Master’s License, called rescue authorities on his sat phone — luckily he and Charlotte had the foresight to bring one along.

Luckily for the Kaufman’s, the frigate USS Vandegrift was on maneuvers within a day’s run of Rebel Heart’s mayday location.

© 2014 US Navy

As reported Friday, an aircraft from the 129th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard was scrambled from Moffett Field with four elite Pararescuemen (PJs) aboard. After arriving near the sailboat, they deployed canisters of medical supplies an an inflatable boat from their aircraft’s cargo bay, then parachuted onto the scene after them. Once aboard the 36-ft cutter, the PJs were able to stabilize little Lyra’s condition. But they and their hosts had to wait until first light Sunday morning before they could safely be transferred to the Vandegrift. The sailboat was taking on water at the time, and was left to sink.

Would you jump out of an airplane over open ocean to save the lives of people you’d never met? PJs do so without a second thought.

© 2014 US Air National Guard

As the story has gained momentum in the mainstream press, some news commentators and citizen bloggers have questioned the wisdom of taking an infant offshore, while others ask whether sailors rescued at sea should bear the cost of such elaborate and costly exercises.

In a statement released yesterday, the Kaufmans addressed charges of reckless parenting: "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."

If you have a strong opinion about taking young children offshore or who should bear the cost of rescues, we welcome you to share it here.


One thing there should be no debate about is how awesome the PJs are. A special forces component originally formed to rescue downed pilots behind enemy lines, their training combines Navy Seal-like combat readiness with highly advanced medical training. They stand by 24/7 to risk their lives rescuing their brothers-in-arms, as well as regular citizens who find themselves in peril on the ocean. We certainly hope we never need their services, but we are very glad to know they — and the similarly studly rescue swimmers of the US Coast Guard — are always ready and willing to come to the aid of sailors in distress. 

We send the Kaufman family our sincere best wishes for Lyra’s speedy recovery, and we hope they can eventually reactivate their cruising dreams.

Another Measure of Megayacht Sailing Size

Sometimes just looking at a big boat doesn’t give you a realistic idea of just how big she is. To get a good idea of how big some of the boats were at the St. Barth Bucket this year, check out 1:58 and the next 10 seconds here. As you’ll see, the mast truck looks as big as a double bunk!

For extra credit, go to 3:50 to see why we have an office for three months at St. Barth each winter. If you go to the top of the frame at 3:56, that’s our home on the hook for ‘ti Profligate and La Gamelle. Yes, it’s as good as it looks.

The video was shot by Pigeon Vision, and while some of it is a little repetitive, we think they did a nice job given the fact that the event ended a short time ago and that this was probably one of their earlier efforts. It’s not easy to shoot this stuff, and as anyone who has edited video can tell you, it takes forever.

The drone used was a DJI Phantom 2 with a GoPro camera. This is the same equipment that we planned to use to shoot the Bucket — until ours did a ‘flyaway’ as we attempted to film megayachts leaving Simpson Lagoon in St. Martin. You can read about that fiasco in the April issue Sightings.

The drones are so back-ordered that it takes weeks if not more than a month to get one. We’re supposed to get our replacement in time for the Voiles de St. Barth, but we’ll probably spend most of the series racing aboard Steve Schmidt’s SC70 Hotel California, Too. Besides, our biggest interest is shooting aerials of anchorages and other sailing scenery. We’re happy to leave the race coverage — it’s a hell of a lot of work to do well — to others.

See Latitude 38 at Strictly Sail

A few of our friends stopped by to say hi at a recent boat show…

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Visit us later this week at Strictly Sail Pacific, Thursday, April 10, through Sunday, April 13, at Jack London Square in Oakland. You can find us upstairs in booth #219/221, where you can restock your wardrobe of Latitude 38 hats and shirts, and find out more about your favorite sailing magazine. And please join us at the following events, all of which are free with your admission to the boat show.

  • Friday, April 11, 2:15 p.m.: Baja Ha-Ha How-to seminar by our managing editor, Andy Turpin.
  • Friday, April 11, 6:00-8:00 p.m.: Baja Ha-Ha, Pacific Puddle Jump, and West Coast Circumnavigators Reunion at our booth. Everyone is welcome! We’ll bring some snacks and beverages.
  • Saturday, April 12, 3:30 p.m.: Baja Ha-Ha How-to seminar by Andy Turpin.
  • Saturday, April 12, 4:45 p.m.: Tahiti and Pacific Puddle Jump seminar by Andy Turpin.
  • Sunday, April 13, 11:45 a.m.: Learn How to Grow Sailing, Your Club, Your Fleet with Summer Sailstice seminar by our associate publisher, John Arndt.


It Was The Tiles, Not The Tax Man

Although Marina has done many Baja Ha-Ha rallies with her husband Myron aboard their Swan 44 Mykonos, her worst injury in Mexico occurred in a bathroom.

© 2014 Myron Eizenzimmer

"The good folks at the El Cid Marina in Mazatlan defended our Swan 44 Mykonos from the AGACE inspect team, but as you can see from the photo, not without injury to Marina," write Myron and Marina Eisenzimmer of San Anselmo.

"Just kidding! As was the case with La Paz, no boats in marinas in Mazatlan have been ‘inspected’ by AGACE. But the cut on Marina’s arm is real. It was the result of her slipping on wet tiles in the El Cid bathroom near the pool area. Watch out for those wet tiles! The cut required 22 stitches at the Sharp Hospital in Mazatlan. Total bill? $700 U.S."

A well-known cruising family from San Diego were awaiting evacuation from their boat about 900 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas this morning after their one-year-old daughter Lyra fell ill.
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Bay Area sailor Larry Jacobson made headlines in 2007 when he and partner Ken Smith became the first openly gay couple to circumnavigate the globe.