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Family’s sailing trip with baby spurs debate

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FILE – This undated file image provided by Sariah English shows Eric and Charlotte Kaufman with their daughters, Lyra, 1, and Cora, 3. None of the three federal agencies that helped rescue the ill 1-year-old and her family from their broken down sailboat about 900 miles off Mexico’s Pacific coast plan to seek reimbursement for the cost of the operation. Officials from the Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard said Tuesday, April 8, 2014, they don’t charge for search-and-rescue missions. “We don’t want people in trouble at sea to hesitate to call for help for fear they’ll be charged for assistance,” said Lt. Anna Dixon of the 11th Coast Guard District, which oversaw the operation but did not send vessels or aircraft to the stranded sailboat. She said that helping at sea is a time-honored tradition and a requirement of international maritime convention. The Navy warship that picked up the family on Sunday is expected to reach San Diego on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Sariah English. File)

FILE – This undated file image provided by Sariah English shows Eric and Charlotte Kaufman with their daughters, Lyra, 1, and Cora, 3. None of the three federal agencies that helped rescue the ill 1-year-old and her family from their broken down sailboat about 900 miles off Mexico’s Pacific coast plan to seek reimbursement for the cost of the operation. Officials from the Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard said Tuesday, April 8, 2014, they don’t charge for search-and-rescue missions. “We don’t want people in trouble at sea to hesitate to call for help for fear they’ll be charged for assistance,” said Lt. Anna Dixon of the 11th Coast Guard District, which oversaw the operation but did not send vessels or aircraft to the stranded sailboat. She said that helping at sea is a time-honored tradition and a requirement of international maritime convention. The Navy warship that picked up the family on Sunday is expected to reach San Diego on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Sariah English. File)

FILE – In this April 6, 2014, file photo, provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, sailors from the frigate USS Vandegrift assist in the rescue of the Kaufman family with a sick infant on the ship’s small boat, as part of a joint U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard rescue effort. None of the three federal agencies that helped rescue the ill 1-year-old, Lyra Kaufman, and her family from their broken down sailboat about 900 miles off Mexico’s Pacific coast plan to seek reimbursement for the cost of the operation. Officials from the Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard said Tuesday, April 8, 2014, they don’t charge for search-and-rescue missions. “We don’t want people in trouble at sea to hesitate to call for help for fear they’ll be charged for assistance,” said Lt. Anna Dixon of the 11th Coast Guard District, which oversaw the operation but did not send vessels or aircraft to the stranded sailboat. She said that helping at sea is a time-honored tradition and a requirement of international maritime convention. The Navy warship that picked up the family on Sunday is expected to reach San Diego on Wednesday. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, File)

FILE – This undated file image provided by Sariah English shows the Rebel Heart sailboat. The boat carrying the Kaufman family became the site of a U.S. Navy rescue Sunday, April 6, 2014, after the family’s small daughter, 1-year-old Lyra, became ill. None of the three federal agencies that helped rescue the ill toddler and her family from their broken down sailboat about 900 miles off Mexico’s Pacific coast plan to seek reimbursement for the cost of the operation. Officials from the Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard said Tuesday, April 8, 2014, they don’t charge for search-and-rescue missions. “We don’t want people in trouble at sea to hesitate to call for help for fear they’ll be charged for assistance,” said Lt. Anna Dixon of the 11th Coast Guard District, which oversaw the operation but did not send vessels or aircraft to the stranded sailboat. She said that helping at sea is a time-honored tradition and a requirement of international maritime convention. The Navy warship that picked up the family on Sunday is expected to reach San Diego on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Sariah English, File)

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sariah English can’t imagine the stress her sister’s family endured after their sailboat broke down 900 miles off the Mexican coast while their 1-year-old daughter covered in a rash was vomiting and suffering from diarrhea and a fever.

All ended well: California Air National Guard members parachuted down and reached the 36-foot sailboat to rescue the family and help them on board a Navy warship, and their baby girl quickly responded to new medication for her salmonella-like symptoms. The warship carrying the family is expected to reach San Diego on Wednesday afternoon.

But Charlotte and Eric Kaufman’s decision to sail around the world with their 1-year-old daughter, Lyra, and 3-year-old daughter, Cora, has struck a chord with parents — angering some who accuse them of endangering their children and drawing admiration from others for having the courage and determination to follow their dream.

“The rescuers have to risk their own lives to help people who do these kinds of stupid things on purpose, and I don’t think that’s right,” said Margaret Dilloway, a San Diego novelist who has three children, adding that she thinks the family should have to foot part of the bill for the rescue operation. “They’ll probably go on the Today Show to talk about this, and write a book about it, do a Mini-series and get 15 minutes of fame because that’s how our country tends to reward people who choose recklessly to put themselves and their children in danger.”

English doesn’t question their decision: Sailing is their passion. It’s what defines them.

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