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I’ve written about the Rebel Heart rescue thing before, HERE. I won’t be commenting on it again. When I wrote the piece on Rebel Heart the family had just arrived back in San Diego from being rescued and had not commented on the situation yet. Since that time they have commented. Their blog is back up and running and they’ve sat for an interview or two.

However, though it may not be the case, it appears to me the family continues to struggle with the reality of their situation.

If I understand the situation clearly, the Rebel Hearts are now saying that barring their child’s illness their Union 36 sailboat was seaworthy enough to have continued on their way to the Marquesas. In their latest interview, in fact, the Kaufman’s now state that had their satellite phone not malfunctioned they could have, and would have, continued on…and they would not have had to set off their EPIRB…would not have required a rescue…and, thus, would not have had to sink their boat. They say that if their SAT phone had not been rendered useless by the supplier, they would have been able to avoid the entire rescue because their physician in Mexico could have instructed them on how to properly administer their baby’s medication. Their baby’s illness has still not been defined, other than a fever and a rash. And, now – you guessed it – the Kaufman’s have filed suit against their SAT phone people.

I’m not going to dissect their interview. I will say that I agree with many who have posted on the different forums. These people got caught up in the moment. They claimed to be experienced. They claimed to be prepared. In reality…not so much. From the Rebel Heart blog…Charlotte’s blog:

“How long would it take you to sail around the world yourself?” “I don’t know. Figure a month from here, a month from there, if I went non-stop, maybe six months? Eight months? Who knows? Why?” “I’m just wondering if you could sail around the world, and I could take the girls and fly to my sister’s and wait it out there. Realistically, how long?” And Eric gently set Lyra down, placing her against a port-side bulkhead so she wouldn’t go flying, and responded, “You know, I can change the sail configuration a bit.” “What? I had no idea.” I’m such a noob to sailing long distances.

And, HERE:

I think this may be the stupidest thing we have ever done. ‘Stupid’ is the number one word that resonates throughout my day as we tick the slow minutes away to the kids’ bed times each night. ‘Why am I doing this?’ ‘What the fuck was I thinking?’ ‘Why did we pick such a hard way of traveling?’ Stupid.

I think the Kaufman’s got in way over their head. When I read their blog I got the distinct impression they were being swept along by the so called cruiser’s lifestyle tide. It’s apparent and plain Charlotte was not very experienced at all and in some ways appears to not even like sailing. To me, what it was is what it was. I do once again applaud them for calling for help when they did. There is nothing wrong with pulling the plug when things go wrong regardless of what went before. However, I really feel justice is not being played out by the Kaufman’s suing their SAT phone people. As one of our dock mates said to me about the suit, “I thought one of the reasons we all head out was to get away from law suits.” I suppose that is the American Way now days. You know, if things go wrong blame or sue everyone…do anything…but don’t accept responsibility for your own actions.

That approach, however, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. From the forums, it appears to leave a nasty taste for quite a few. Nonetheless, don’t count us as ones who wants to pile on…we don’t. The Kaufman’s found themselves in a situation assessed as requiring a rescue…and they pulled that trigger. I’d do the same thing.

On the other hand, sometimes there is no right approach. There is no best way to move forward. As some have said, had this not been picked up by the media it would have been just another rescue at sea, something that happens all the time with little or no fanfare. I’m sure the Kaufman’s are struggling on many levels at the moment and I feel for them. It can’t be easy losing everything, regardless of the circumstances.

My best to the Rebel Hearts as they continue to recover from their disaster.

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5 Comments

  1. Susan,

    In preface, I am neither for nor against people sailing with children. I am deeply saddened by the Kaufman’s loss. I am happy their children are well and healthy. I do not judge other people lifestyles. Amongst the tough decisions made, lots of people did a lot things right as all are well and healthy.

    This is an interesting take you made. I went to Eric’s blog to read the latest. In the comment section he noted “I am looking forward to the trial”. To make a statement such as this means they have no idea regarding what is about to hit them (sound familiar). The defending company will offer a small settlement with a non-disclosure clause. This will probably be in the $40,000 range. After their attorney, who I assume is working on consignment takes his cut; they will be left with $20,000, or less. This is what the attorney is hoping for, a quick payday and very little work (expenses). These types of offers are always in this range as they are less than the cost of a trial. No one will get a substantial offering in a pre-trial settlement unless they can PROVE malice and gross negligence. According to Eric’s blog, the gross negligence is because they failed to inform him the service was to be cut off. All the company has to provide is a single document to counter this claim. For example, they could produce a copy of a letter sent to the permanent address on file at the time the account was opened. Their claim would be they cannot be responsible for the Kaufman’s failure to update their address or have a mail forwarding arrangement. I would also expect a corporate protection clause in the terms and conditions agreed to when signing up for the service. Malice means that the Kaufman’s were singled out by the company and the phone was disconnected to purposely cause them harm. I do not think this is the case. So where is the gross negligence and malice?

    The defending company will do EVERYTHING possible during disclosure via depositions to fully and inexplicably discredit the Kaufman’s. They will most certainly use the excerpts you quoted from Charlotte’s blog. They will depose everyone the Kaufman’s knew and make their lives absolutely miserable that they will wish they never sued. This is a standard corporate defense strategy. They will question the Kaufman’s limits of expertise to refit and self prepare a boat for a Pacific crossing. Where did the Kaufman’s go to school to acquire this skill set (YouTube doesn’t count)? If the Kaufman’s think they were prepared for a Pacific storm, they are about to be tested beyond their wildest dreams.
    The first thing the Kaufman’s attorney should have done was to shut down the blog. The ammunition for the defending company is nicely chronicled and organized. This is the price paid when a person opts to put their life on the internet. Should they lose, which is a possibility, they stand to be counter sued for slander and damages due to lose of business the company has suffered due to “opinions” of the Kaufman’s. Should they lose the counter suit, all wages and future earning can be garnished.

    My very long point being; are they prepared for this? While they might think they are fully prepared, again, time will tell.

    Mark

    • Hi Mark…thanks for commenting.

      We also have no opinion one way or the other on sailing with children. However, in context, I can think of few things we’d like less than sailing with two small children, ages one and three, but to each their own. I see nothing wrong in others, if they want to take their toddlers blue water cruising, but it’s just not our cup of tea.

      I indicated that I’m not going to be one who “piles on” the Kaufman’s and I’m not. But, having read their blog just prior to their departure, if asked, I’d have classified the entire effort as one slow moving train wreck. In fact, just prior to their departure, commenting under the name “Free” I suggested they might want to postpone their trip. And, early on, just after they left, also posting under the name “Free”, I even suggested there was no loss of face if they turned back entirely. I didn’t feel comfortable voicing more of an opinion. On the other hand I felt I just couldn’t say nothing and let it slide.

      Honestly, I think the Kaufman’s are somewhat indicative of a whole relatively new group of sailors on the scene. Many are young, under forty or so…maybe a little bit successful, but certainly under funded. Many have very old and marginal yachts to work with…infants, toddlers, kids in tow…and worst of all, they don’t know what they don’t know. I think many in this group, inspired by the Bumfuzzley type on the internet, assume that because someone else with more luck and priviledge than brains and experience “makes it” then they can too. And, to boot, they are encouraged by a whole network of others just like them who act, behave, and think in the same, unaltered cruiser’s lifestyle hive mind as they do.

      You are right, the Kaufman’s are certainly seeing the consequences of spreading the most intimate details of their life across the net. Of everything about their story, I suppose this is the part I don’t understand at all. I just can’t fathom blabbing the details of me and my husband’s life like that. Again, though, to each their own.

      Like most, like you, I hope things work out for the Kaufman’s. It seems most apparent they are somewhat struggling now days.

      On a different note, I like your boat, the Super Maramu. A dock mate of ours here in Kemah had one…still does, but he’s in Key West now days.

  2. Hi Mark…thanks for commenting.

    We also have no opinion one way or the other on sailing with children. However, in context, I can think of few things we’d like less than sailing with two small children, ages one and three, but to each their own. I see nothing wrong in others, if they want to take their toddlers blue water cruising, but it’s just not our cup of tea.

    I indicated that I’m not going to be one who “piles on” the Kaufman’s and I’m not. But, having read their blog just prior to their departure, if asked, I’d have classified the entire effort as one slow moving train wreck. In fact, just prior to their departure, commenting under the name “Free” I suggested they might want to postpone their trip. And, early on, just after they left, also posting under the name “Free”, I even suggested there was no loss of face if they turned back entirely. I didn’t feel comfortable voicing more of an opinion. On the other hand I felt I just couldn’t say nothing and let it slide.

    Honestly, I think the Kaufman’s are somewhat indicative of a whole relatively new group of sailors on the scene. Many are young, under forty or so…maybe a little bit successful, but certainly under funded. Many have very old and marginal yachts to work with…infants, toddlers, kids in tow…and worst of all, they don’t know what they don’t know. I think many in this group, inspired by the Bumfuzzley type on the internet, assume that because someone else with more luck and priviledge than brains and experience “makes it” then they can too. And, to boot, they are encouraged by a whole network of others just like them who act, behave, and think in the same, unaltered cruiser’s lifestyle hive mind as they do.

    You are right, the Kaufman’s are certainly seeing the consequences of spreading the most intimate details of their life across the net. Of everything about their story, I suppose this is the part I don’t understand at all. I just can’t fathom blabbing the details of me and my husband’s life like that. Again, though, to each their own.

    Like most, like you, I hope things work out for the Kaufman’s. It seems most apparent they are somewhat struggling now days.

    On a different note, I like your boat, the Super Maramu. A dock mate of ours here in Kemah had one…still does, but he’s in Key West now days.

  3. Ah! you must know Alexandre of NIKIMAT. We chat often, he is in Nassau now.

    • Yes, Alex, indeed. He was two boats down from us. Please give him our regards.


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