Sailing family defends Kaufman's voyage and rescue - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Sailing family defends Kaufman's voyage and rescue

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - One sailing family blogging with the Kaufman's is coming to their defense in the wake of their safe return and a blast of criticism.

"I don't think it's dangerous but there certainly are risks involved," said Diane Selkirk.

Selkirk, her husband and her 12-year-old daughter have been sailing across the world since June 2009. She wrote an article defending Eric and Charlotte Kaufman's decision to take their young children to sea.

"There seemed to be a lot of misunderstandings about what it is we do and how dangerous it is," said Selkirk.

The Kaufman family arrived Wednesday morning in San Diego aboard the USS Vandegrift after they had been at sea for about two weeks when they became stranded off the coast of Baja.

The rescue mission began April 3 when the Kaufman's sent a distress call to the Coast Guard. Lyra was not responding to antibiotics, officials said. The Kaufmans' other daughter, 3-year-old Cora, also was aboard their sailboat "Rebel Heart."

National guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing in the Bay Area sent four parajumpers to the Rebel Heart.

On the phone via Skype in Australia, Selkirk told CBS News 8 she knew the Kaufman's through blogging and shared parenting advice.

"I looked at that picture of the tiny little boat in the big ocean and I got scared too," said Selkirk.

The Selkirk's are from Vancouver and set sail on "Ceilydh" in June 2009 with their daughter Maia, who was age 7 at the time.

"I can understand the fear but at the same time it's not that quite frightening," said Selkirk.

The sailing mother says they have faced challenges in unpredictable hurricanes that damaged boats and lives were lost but believes the risk is worth the family experience.

The storm of criticism continues across the world and in San Diego where the Kaufman's are from.

"I think it's ridiculous, I think these people need to have their head examined," said Alana Quincannon.

On a cruising website, Eric Kaufman posted a response about a family who had to be rescued in October 2013. They fled the U.S. for religious reasons with their two young children, "It's like every week there's someone getting rescued off a boat these days who has no idea wtf they are doing." 

However, Selkirk believes there is more to a sailing family community.  

"People get scared for kids and you can't blame them but it's like anything, it looks very different to outsiders when you're actually on the boat. When you are giggling and dancing and exploring," said Selkirk. 

The Selkirk's have sailed from Vancouver, down to North America and across the Pacific and landed in Australia.

"There are benefits for the kids and they get to see a lot of things and really become global citizens. Certainly it's not a life for everybody," said Selkirk.

She believes the Kaufman family was prepared and skilled to sail around the world.  

"It really is a wondrous one and a magical one and there are an awful lot of happy children out sailing the world," said the sailing mother.  

Critics are also calling on the Kaufman's to foot the expensive bill for the military rescue. 

"We spent millions of dollars saving these people, maybe they should pick up the bill," said Quincannon.  

Selkirk says it's tough to judge negligence, "When someone has done absolutely everything they had to do and prepare your absolute best it's really hard to judge whether there was a mistake in there. For the most part they [Kaufman's] just did their best."  

The Coast Guard stresses this is their job and no one should fear calling for help. They do not charge.  

Selkirk is also a freelance writer and lives in Australia. She and her family plan to sail into South Asia and down to Africa and return to Vancouver when her daughter graduates from high school.  


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