Ronstan

Life has risks, get over it

Published on April 14th, 2014

Americans Eric and Charlotte Kaufman began what was supposed to be a monthslong trip in a 36-foot sailboat from Mexico to New Zealand, taking along their daughters ages 1 and 3 on this sail to the South Pacific.

But a firestorm erupted when on April 3, about 900 miles off Cabo San Lucas, the Kaufmans sent a distress signal due to a sick child and a crippled boat. After a rescue by the California Air National Guard and US Navy, the national debate focused on the risks taken by the parents.

The incident brought back memories for Sean “Doogie” Couvreux, who these days can be found crewing on the mini Maxi 72 Bella Mente and Farr 40 Groovederci. But before Doogie was professional sailor, he was an infant sailor. Here is his report…

There has been quite a bit of debate and conversation lately about taking a young family cruising. I have read comments regarding the subject, some supportive and some very negative ones. I would like to put forth my two cents on this subject.

My parents took my brother and I cruising for 10 years on a boat. I moved onto the boat when I was a 1 year old, and we later left our homeport in France when I was 3 years old and my brother was just a few months old. We left France in 1982 and arrived in Bodega Bay, CA in 1990.

Were the Kaufman’s world class sailors and ready for anything the ocean could throw at them? I don’t know them or their skills, but probably not. Do they need to be to take a voyage like this with a young family? NO. It is always better to have more sailing knowledge but it shouldn’t keep them from doing what they dreamed of. My parents were decent sailors (my dad more than my mom), but they were definitely not world class. They learned as they went and learned many life lessons along way.

As for the risks to take a young family on such a voyage, yes of course, there is some risk. But so is driving your kids to daycare or a play date. At least on the ocean, there might not be someone drifting into oncoming traffic while looking down at their cell phone. There are always news stories about families suffering terrible tragedies in a horrible traffic accident. There is always the risk of something terrible happening but it shouldn’t prevent you from living life.

There are people that claim it’s a waste to do all this traveling while the kids are so young and can’t remember. Do I remember everything that happened to us on our 10 year voyage? No, but I do recall quite a bit and it became part of who I am today. It gave me an appreciation for the world we live in, the people that live in different countries, how lucky we are in the USA, different perspectives of the world, etc.

The Kaufmans were giving their kids a gift, an invaluable gift. I still sail to this day, and enjoy spending time on the ocean. I’m always looking for adventure today, be it on my mountain bike in the mountains, or taking my family on a hike. My kids are 4 and 2, and I have not held back on taking them around. They go skiing, biking, swimming, sailing, kite flying, kayaking, paddle boarding… on a regular basis. I’m trying to give them the same gift my parents gave me, enjoy and appreciate the world.

I wish the best of luck to the Kaufman family, and hope they don’t give up their dreams. My mom has recently taken to writing a blog detailing some of our adventures. They can be found at www.couvreuxediting.com/blog-from-the-past

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