Thursday, April 10, 2014


My boating family; living our life the way we want; the way that works us.
Like many other sailors, liveaboards, and parents, I've been following the rescue of the Kaufmans aboard s/v Rebel Heart closely.

I met Charlotte Kaufman online a few years ago when I was pregnant with my older daughter. She wrote a blog about living aboard with a baby - what worked, what didn't - it was exactly what I needed to read when I was trying to figure out how we were going to welcome a newborn baby aboard our floating home. She introduced me to an online community of boating families, many of whom I am in touch with on a regular basis. She set up a couple groups on facebook that I belong to that support me in my two major life endeavors: sailing and parenting. When Charlotte and her family cast off the docklines from Mexico and started their voyage across the Pacific Ocean, I was excited and followed her near daily blog postings.

So when I heard the news that they had put out a call for help and a rescue was underway, I was shocked and worried. It was made even more poignant for me since just days earlier I had received a photo of the girls in the mail from Charlotte. It is displayed in a prominent position on our boat and I say a little meditation each time I pass it.

Of course armchair sailors and critics abound and every news article, video, or blog posting is filled with criticism of the Kaufmans for taking their children sailing. My immediate instinct was to go on the defensive; thinking of all the reasons why going cruising with kids is beneficial. I wanted to shout these reasons from the rooftops. But there has to be a better use of my voice and this space. (Not to mention that a lot of people are already doing this, very eloquently.)

I exchanged a few comments with a friend this morning about what the real takeaway can be from this whole media frenzy: instead of judging other people's parenting decisions, let's reflect on our own lives.    We can learn so much from observing others. Instead of attacking someone else's way of life, use it to reflect on your own way of life. People choose lifestyles that can be so different from our own or so similar. This, to me, like travel, is fascinating--not grounds for criticism.

I met a group of friends with their kids at a playground this morning; all moms of kids age 3 and under. They all wanted to talk to me about Rebel Heart. Their responses were something like this: "People need to mind their own business." "This is precisely the kind of thing are tax dollars are for: car accidents, rescuing people from burning buildings, and from the ocean." "People need to get a life." (The last one, referring to the critics.) None of them were sailors, only a few had been aboard my boat to see firsthand what a liveaboard life is like, yet they all were basically saying: "Mind your own business." Hearing their nonjudgmental comments was like a breath of fresh air.

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