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Two separate remote baby rescues sure to raise questions

by Lee Mylchreest on 6 Apr 2014
Babies on board - it’s the Southern Ocean on Anasazi .. .
It was already a week of rescues. Now the rescue of two babies from sailing boats, one because of illness in the Pacific and one because of a dismasting near Cape Horn, will raise questions - about the foolhardiness of taking small children sailing in remote locations and the expense of their rescues - by all but the most inveterate of cruising sailors.

In the Southern Ocean, two boats which Sail-World Cruising had previously featured were both dismasted in the same storm in Cape Horn waters.

Andrew Halcrow was on his second attempt to circumnavigate the world solo (see Sail-World story) when he was dismasted and James Burwick and his wife Somiro Sao with their three young children (see Sail-World story) on their Open 50(swapped for their previous Open 40) Anasazi Girl were dismasted in the same storm, but in a location too remote for a helicopter rescue. They were rescued by a Chilean Navy ship.

While these rescues have good conclusions as far as the safety of life is concerned, back in the Pacific, the rescue is still going on of a very sick baby, one of the children on board Rebel Heart, a 36ft yacht being sailed by Californian couple Eric and Charlotte Kauffman with their two children.

The Kauffmans, experienced sailors with a long-time ambition to sail around the world, departed last month, like many others before them, with their small children on board, to achieve their dreams of a circumnavigation. They were sailing to the Marquesas, the nearest port of call in French Polynesia.



These dreams were smashed when 13-month-old Lyra developed a severe rash, a high fever and vomiting 900 miles off the coast of Mexico. They radioed a distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard. An MC-130P Combat Shadow was sent to the scene and four parachuting medics leapt into the ocean and clambered aboard the 36-foot sailing boat.

If necessary, a helicopter rescue of the infant was planned and a complicated fuel supply procedure was put in place for airborne refuelling of the helicopter to reach the remote sailing boat. However, the medics on board have since reported that, after the administration of antibiotics, the health of the baby had improved, and the sailing boat, which had previously been disabled, was now heading for a meeting with a U.S. Navy frigate, which will bring the family back to shore. The parachuting medics will remain with the family.

Children are frequently found on circumnavigating yachts, and the incidence of dramas such as described above has been almost non-existent. The children on board these many long-range cruising boats are always reported as thriving under the personal supervision of the school-work and the healthy inspiring environment of life in many different lands and cultures. Two rescues of babies in a short period of time, however, is bound to cause consternation among the sailing fraternity and criticism among others.

Positive supportive letter from Reader:

Sender: B Grant

Message: We, as experienced off shore sailors APPLAUD these two families for their lifestyle and determination! One error though, James Burwick and Somira Sao have THREE small children aboard, a 5 yr old, a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old. Their boat, a fast racing machine, was dismasted in a storm but was towed into Puerto Williams, Chile where they are waiting for a replacement mast so they can continue their journey. Both of these boats with rescued families with babies were well equipped, the parents well organized and experienced and we wish them well in their continued adventures!!


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