Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rebel Heart

By now I'm sure the entire population has heard about the rescue of the sailboat Rebel Heart nine-hundred miles west of Mexico.  It seems every news feed in the U.S. has latched on to this story and, in the process, stirred up a vocal and opinionated response from a mostly uninformed public.  There seem to be many out there who feel that caring for a sick child on a sailboat, enduring a rescue at sea, and then watching your boat (and home) sink is not enough punishment for such irresponsible parents.  They must also face the backlash of an angry non-sailing community demanding answers and reimbursement of precious tax dollars (because, as we know, the US Coast Guard would otherwise be sitting in port NOT doing anything requiring public funds).  As a sailor and a father I find it absurd.  For the crew of Rebel Heart it must be completely surreal.

We met Rebel Heart last season in La Cruz.  Colin and little Cora were close to the same age and fast friends.  We enjoyed hanging out with Eric and Charlotte and really liked having a playmate for Colin.  So, we made an effort to spend time together before sailing to Mazatlan.

This year we were eager to get back to La Cruz and begin prepping for our Pacific crossing with our friends on Rebel Heart and Bangorang.  Our plan was to sail with them as we all hopped through the South Pacific islands to New Zealand.  We were hoping to leave Mexico around the same time.  Instead, we said goodbye to both boats as they sailed out of La Cruz, and we resigned ourselves to another season in Mexico.

In spite of what Charlotte's clueless brother said to the press, nobody saw this coming.  The news of their rescue came as a shock to all of us who know them.  Eric single-handed Rebel Heart down from San Diego and spent the past year (or more) preparing the boat for their departure.  As a family they spent the summer in Mexico and sailed the boat across the Sea of Cortez to La Cruz, where they began the final prep.  Hans-Christians are proven blue-water boats and Eric seemed a competent and seasoned sailor.  I never doubted their success.

But, as most sailors know, when things go wrong on a boat it can get out of hand quickly.  Keeping the boat in working order on a crossing can be a full-time job.  Add two small children to the mix and it can be overwhelming.  When one of those children becomes seriously ill everything else will have to wait.  With Lyra's health in question, they made the right decision to call for help.

After working our way down the California coast and spending three seasons in Mexico as a cruising family, I would venture to say we understand more than most the challenges involved in sailing with children.  Colin was just five-months-old when we left Alameda and turns 3 next week.  I know many considered our journey foolish and thought we were irresponsible for taking an infant to sea. 

Yes, if we get in to trouble, we will probably ask the US Coast Guard to come to our aid.  But, we also spend a lot of time and money preparing ourselves and our vessel in an effort to avoid such a scenario.  Sometimes accidents happen and we, as a civilized society, pay taxes to fund services with the sole purpose of aiding those people unfortunate enough to suffer an accident.  If someone ventures out to a remote area of the planet and becomes ill or injured should we shame them for it?  Should we bill them for the rescue attempt?  What if it was someone you know, someone you care about?

And, what's the alternative?  Should we only raise our kids within a sheltered community of like-minded individuals?  Is that really the best we can offer our offspring?  As anyone who's met a cruising family can attest, children raised on sailboats are, in general, a mature and well-adjusted group.  And, why wouldn't they be?  They spend their days exploring the wonders of our planet, meeting kids from other countries, learning different cultures and languages along the way.  Isn't that preferable to cell phones, video games, and American pop culture?

I guess none of that matters now.  A sailboat had to be rescued...and there were children on board.  That's all the information required for the average intellect with a computer and something to say.  What most people fail to realize is that many families have crossed oceans without incident, and to the enrichment of their children.  The media only reports on those in distress and, unfortunately, it happened to our friends on Rebel Heart.  So now, all those who lack the courage and passion to fulfill their own dreams have a well-publicized excuse to justify their failures.
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Anonymous said...

Well said. Thank you. Marilyn - (Sister of Fluenta)

Charlotte said...

Thank you for your support!

Horizons... said...

Well said. Yes, there are many family's with children cruising and I've me many during my years sailing. They learn so much more than they ever would in a 'normal' school situation. I wish I could have grown up that way. The critics don't have a clue. Not a clue. May this family find it's way back to the amazing life on the water they worked so hard for.

mom said...

very well said... it's a shame some people are so judgmental on things they know nothing about!
how wonderful to be able to follow your dreams and live an adventurous life!!!