When we first heard about the tragedy that had befallen our friends on Rebel Heart, Vlad and I were just heartbroken. We had watched their boat leave the marina in La Cruz for points west on a family voyage that honestly I was a smidge jealous about, and it is wrenching to see that dream deferred.
It was also wrenching to hear people say nasty things about our friends on the internet, hyberbolic things like having kids on a boat is "just nuts" or "irresponsible" or "unfair." And they were saying this about every single family living on a boat, families that we have met all throughout our travels, families, incidentally just like we are now. We've met families with brand new babies and others with teenagers. Some were traveling with children with disabilities. Some had large catamarans. Others traveled in less than 30-foot boats across oceans.
In other words, living on a boat with a kid, while certainly not for everyone, isn't a rare occurrence, despite what the internet thinks. We've personally met around fifty kid boats on our travels, and not a one of those kiddos seemed upset with their circumstances. That includes the teenagers, people! In fact, all of the kids I've spoken to were excited about their lives, their travels, different languages and new people. Not a one said, "Geez, I wish my stupid parents hadn't taken me sailing."
As for the babies, though they might not ever remember their time onboard or the specifics of the journey, they get a very rare gift in this world - two parents who are with them pretty much all the time. We read books, talk, play the ukulele, listen to music, and go on walks with Jari every day. He also spends an abundance of one-on-one time with his dad, walking the docks and talking to people and intently watching Vlad fix things. In short, he gets a lot of attention from both of his parents. That doesn't sound deserving of a CPS call, now does it?
And a bunch of people have put it much better than I have. Here is a list of blog rebuttals to the internet maelstrom:
Behan on S/V Totem who is currently sailing around the world with her children.
Brittany on Windtraveler who raised one baby girl aboard and is about to do the same thing with their new twin girls. And here's a great post she wrote last year: "On Boating with a Baby and Being Irresponsible Parents."
And here's Tamiko's take on Landfall.
Cidnie from Our Life with Ceol Mor has uploaded an excellent sailing with kids video. And it even shows Charlotte baby wearing Jari aboard our boat.
Also, Charlotte and Eric lost their home and all their possessions and need help getting back on their feet. If you would like to make a donation, here is the link to the Help the Kaufman Family fundraising page.