The dream of one family to sail around the world in a 36 ft. sailboat nearly turned into a nightmare. Yesterday, the family was safely taken aboard the Navy frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG 49) and transported to San Diego.
The sailboat Rebel Heart, skippered by Eric Kaufman, sent a distress signal from the sailboat Thursday. The vessel had lost power and steering capabilities and the younger of the two children onboard was grievously ill.
They were stranded some 900 nautical miles off the coast of Mexico in the Pacific Ocean.
After spotting the disabled vessel, the Air Guard unit deployed four pararescuemen (medics in flippers) from a helicopter who were able to swim to Rebel Heart, board, and administer life-saving procedures to the one-year-old. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Criticized for their decision to risk their children’s well-being in such a small, although seaworthy vessel, the Kaufman family released this statement:
First, we would like to express how grateful we are to the men and women of the Coast Guard, California Air National Guard and Navy who rescued our family, especially the pararescuemen and crew of USS Vandegrift.
We are very thankful to be safe and well. We also appreciate all the concern, thoughts and prayers of everyone back home for the health of our daughter Lyra. She is doing well now, and her medical condition continues to improve.
At this time, it is unknown who will be responsible for the hefty price tag associated with rescuing the ill-fated adventurers.
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