Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Utter Stupidity at Sea

Eric, Lyra (1) Charlotte & Cora (3) Kaufman - (Photo-AP)
By now thousands of people across the world have directed irate online comments at Eric and Charlotte Kaufman, the parents of a one year-old daughter named Lyra and a three year-old daughter named Cora. (pictured left)

The Kaufman's are making headlines for their ill-advised decision to make a 6,914 mile journey across the southern Pacific Ocean from the western coast of Mexico to New Zealand.

It's one thing to take your one and three year-old daughters to New Zealand, but putting them aboard a 36-foot sailboat for a journey across the open ocean that can take months strikes me as one of the dumbest f---ing things I've ever heard of.

While I can certainly admire the skill and preparation it takes for professional sailors or adventurers to undertake a dangerous crossing of the Pacific in a 36-foot sailboat, the idea of two parents putting a 1 year-old baby and her 3 year old sister on the boat is questionable decision making at best, and a delusional parenting choice that borders on neglect at worst.

The Kaufman's are defending their decision after issuing a distress call 900 miles off the coast of Mexico when they lost the ability to steer their boat and had to be rescued by a coordinated effort involving the US Coast Guard, the California Air National Guard and the US Navy. As the NY Times reported their 1 year-old Lyra had a fever and was covered in rashes - who takes a baby on any kind of trip less than two weeks after being infected with Salmonella?

I'm not an adventurer or anything, but I was a Boy Scout for years. I've hiked, spent two weeks living in a tent, repelled off cliffs, done cold weather camping in winter, been spelunking deep into caves in the hills of West Virginia and gone on extended canoe trips down rivers. I've been snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Costa Rica and I learned to scuba dive in the Bahamas. I've been sailing in the Atlantic with people who'd spent years on the water.

The one thing all those experiences had in common was that there was always extensive preparation before setting out, knowledge of the terrain and weather conditions, exhaustive reviews of safety measures and procedures, careful practice with and knowledge of all equipment and we NEVER took unnecessary risks. The idea of taking a 1 and 3 year-old into such a dangerous condition? Absurd.

I definitely think children should learn to experience the outdoors as soon as they're able to, and under the proper supervision. ALL children should learn to swim.

But I loose patience with people who take stupid risks because they arrogantly think it's cool or that they're somehow immune to the power of nature. People who make decisions like that and involve young children are liable for prosecution as far as I'm concerned.

 Nature is beautiful but it can turn on you FAST and smart people respect it. Lakes, streams and rivers are beautiful and should be enjoyed; but they can turn deadly if circumstances go bad. If you've ever been caught in an undertow current within sight of the shore, or know someone who drowned in a creek, you understand the immense power of water; and how quickly it can take a life.

But the ocean is a whole different ball game as the Kaufmans learned; and members of the Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Navy risked their lives to save them.

There's a lot of things going on in the world worth blogging about, but parents endangering their own children to satisfy some kind of lust for adventure or attention?

That's the worst kind of stupidity: the kind that could have been avoided in the first place.

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