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Sailing the World (Pregnant)

On the first leg of their journey, the Kaufman family never expected such a bumpy ride (with one bump being particularly surprising). A chronicle in three parts. Hold on tight!


(page 1 of 4)


The Kaufman's sail boat

Stand watch for Parts 2 and 3 of this series in the coming months. Follow the Kaufmans’ journey on their blog at therebelheart.com and  see a video clip of the family and map of their route around the world.

My daughter Cora is our official engine starter and dolphin spotter. She loves living on a boat and likes it even more when we go sailing. But on Day One of our journey, as we left Point Loma and turned toward open water, the ocean swells intensified, and so did the sour look on Cora’s chubby, two-year-old face. I had spent all morning fluttering around the inside of the cabin, stowing away last-minute provisions and happily snapping photos of our well-prepared vessel for our blog. I felt like a domestic boat goddess as I handed out small bowls filled with a simple breakfast of blueberries, cheese, and almonds to Cora and my husband, Eric. This is what it’s all about, I thought.

Shakedown cruises are a way to get ready for longer passages onboard. They let you try out truly pushing your boat and using it the way it was meant to, out in the open ocean, with sails unfurled, and under the full power and force of wind and waves. Our shakedown cruise would take us from San Diego Bay to Catalina and then on to Santa Cruz and, we hoped, the San Miguel Islands.

We had planned to motor up to Catalina rather than sail, because we were fighting a strong current and were all tired from the previous days’ prep work. We had given Cora a dose of children’s Bonine before we left, so I wasn’t worried about her getting seasick. But then things got rolly.

"Eric slept, while I feebly stood watch. I set a timer that went off every 15 minutes, so I could stand up and look in a complete circle around our boat to make sure we weren’t going to hit any vessels."
Kaufman family
The Kaufman family

The swells started and Eric put up the staysail to try to make things a bit more stable, but Cora wasn’t saying a word. Our chipper dolphin spotter was more like a moping jellyfish.

I knew what was coming. I tried to turn her away from me and toward the cockpit. “Get a bucket,” I said to Eric, who just scoffed, saying she wouldn’t get the concept.

But oh, she got it. And she threw up a lot. I tried to soothe her but had a hard time not puking myself, as she emptied her breakfast onto my leg and shoes. My first thought was, She just got vomit all over my only clean skirt! Eric jumped into action and got her wiped up. I said we were both going to go lie down in the v-berth, because I didn’t feel well either.

That was a bad, bad idea.

The v-berth is forward on a boat and an extremely bouncy place to be, especially when seasick. I had hoped that once Cora threw up she would feel better and be over her seasickness, but no such luck. She got sick multiple times before I finally got sick myself, into a plastic bin that had been holding our brightly colored courtesy flags. Cora looked up for a brief moment to watch me. You can tell a kid isn’t feeling well when she watches a grown-up hurl and doesn’t laugh. Kids typically think anything barf-related is hilarious. But Cora just buried her face back in my legs.

I sat there for what seemed like ages, trying desperately not to look down at the reconstituted blueberries. Trying
not to smell them. Finally I heard Eric on the steps and yelled for him. He yelled back that he was almost done
cleaning up, but I hollered louder, and when he came to see, I just handed him the bucket and said, “We gotta get out of here.”

And so it went... for hours and hours.

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