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New Adventures | Last Blog Post on Rebel Heart

10 years ago I wrote my first post on this blog. Eric and I had owned our sailboat, Rebel Heart, for two years and we were in the process of moving from land to full time liveaboards in San Diego, California.
A tremendous amount has happened in the decade since we began documenting our life on the water. If you haven’t heard about our dramatic rescue at sea in April of 2014, you can listen to our interview on This American Life or read this article by Kevin Grange, in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.


A year ago, Eric and I moved our family to 8,000ft altitude. We live in a town called Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra. We each still blog. 


You can follow Eric here: https://mammothlife.wordpress.com/



You can follow me here: http://www.charlottekaufman.com/


I’ve recently completed my first draft of a book about how Eric and I met, our life on Rebel Heart, the rescue, and its ensuing aftermath.  You can sign up to receive my blog updates and information on when the book will be published by clicking here.


Lastly, you can follow us on social media as well. Our links are here:





From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for following us on this blog. Our adventures still continue if you’d care to follow us on our new sites.


Much love,
Charlotte Kaufman
s/v Rebel Heart



Life with Lyra | Part Two

This is Part Two of my recent two posts about Lyra. You can read Part One here.


There is an inner determination in Lyra that I greatly admire. She does not give up easily nor does she ask for help readily.

Lyra is fearless. Here you see her running and then leaping into Eric's arms. Zero hesitation.

Lyra loves super heroes  & jumping on daddy.

She particularly loves to be the leader of groups and walk in the front. I *think* this is because she is generally the smallest and the youngest and she has a deep desire to be just like the big kids, no, she wants to BEAT the big kids and be better than them at their own game.

Showing bravery and the inherent curiosity of children at Tecolote Canyon Visitor Center and petting a snake.

If the big kids do it, Lyra wants to too. That's why she was so thrilled to finally get her first chance to snowboard this month in Mammoth (yes, they STILL have snow on the mountain.) Her dad and sister have been snowboarding all season but Lyra had to stay home with me. She was finally big enough to go out and try it.

She also recently got to join Eric and Cora on a backpacking trip in the Santa Rosa Mountains. 

That tiny kid followed her big sister and kept up the whole way. 

She loves the water. We've had her in swim lessons from a very young age because she doesn't pause around water; she just jumps in.

Lyra also never stops moving. Trying to get her to stay put for any length of time is nigh on impossible.

In case you are tempted to say, 'pssshhh, all 3 year olds move around a lot,' then you'd be right. But Lyra's brand of non-stop is pretty special. Here's just a few seconds of Lyra one day while we were getting pizza. Her faces like this are constant.


Seriously, she makes us all laugh. I knew she'd be the clown in the family from almost the minute she was born.

Cracking us up as she reads.

All silliness aside, she is a pre-reader, so she spends lots of time pretending to read while reciting books she knows from memory, or singing songs while she imitates reading.

 This is Lyra reading her current favorite book, Keisha Cane and her Very Sweet Tooth, by Ashley Foxx.

Lyra leaping right into the Volcom Skate Rink in Mammoth Lakes, California

As fiercely independent as she is, sometimes even Lyra likes to cuddle. The first time she pretended to be a baby I asked her, 'what is your baby name?' She very sweetly answered,

"Baby quesadilla."

I snorted laughing but then I realized she was serious. She continued angelically, loving the way I was rocking her, "with extra cheese."

"Your name is 'baby quesadilla with extra cheese?'" Again, a serene nod. And from then on, anytime she played baby she was our little quesadilla. 

How do kids think this stuff up?

Today driving home from school Lyra asked me if she could go inside all the homes on the street by our house. "Can I go in that home? That home? That home?" she carried on.

"You know if you want to go in people's home, you could be a cop. Cops go in a lot of homes."

She harrumphed from the back seat. "I don't to be a cop! I want to be Lyra!"

"Okay, but what do you want to be when you grow up?" Cora asked.

"I don't want to be a grown up, or a teacher, or a cop. I'm going to be me. I'm going to be Lyra."

I guarantee you she will be Lyra when she grows up. And I can't wait to see who she turns out to be.


Life with Lyra | Part One

This kid is 3.5 years old. 

Sometimes I look back on our pictures from Mexico and the Pacific Crossing (and all the mayhem that ensued afterwards) and I marvel.

A lot of the life Lyra was born into is far removed from the reality of our lives now. While Cora has clear memories of sailing, of Rebel Heart, and of places and people in Mexico, Lyra has only the stories we tell her and the photos. So many photos.

Thanks to the digital age, we were spared losing our photos when we lost our home. 

Lyra spent the first six months of her life as a lump of love, attached to my breast and with puffy hair and big eyes that quietly took in the world from the perch of my baby carrier. My heart called her 'Joy' in those days. I even mentioned to Eric, perhaps we should consider renaming her. It was joy she brought me, pure and simple.

Month seven was different. Month seven was part of the six weeks we spent in Puerto Escondido, Baja Californa Sur.

It was when we rented an apartment and had the boat on the hook while we waited out hurricane season.

Month seven is when Lyra found her lungs.

She found they worked best at night, especially right at each moment that I would fall back asleep again. Even if I slept right beside her, she would somehow sense once I'd fallen back asleep after yet another nighttime nursing session and she would shriek, splitting my ear drums and dragging me painfully back to consciousness, and back to caring for her. Over and over. All night long. For weeks.

Baja's heat was brutal. We didn't go outside really at all.

We just hunkered down, her and I, for almost six weeks as we awaited for what we hoped would be the last of the tropical storms of the season, and the freedom of being able to leave the pit that was Puerto Escondido.

Eric and Cora would walk once a day to the boat and they'd putter there. Lyra and I stayed put.

The searing heat outside matched the bond that Lyra and I formed during those six weeks of sleep regression (for her), and isolation (for me.)

We were constant companions. Quite literally, bosom buddies. Leaving Puerto Escondido, I was mentally at my breaking point, in fact, it was when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

But this post isn't about me. It's about Lyra. Our little Lyra.

Lyra Lou. Lyra Boo.

Baby sister.


She has had many nicknames. 

The first time she sucked her thumb was April 15, 2013. The only way I know this date is I happened to remember it was tax day :)  The combination of her thumb and her lovey was an excellent self-soothing technique. 

As long as she had those two things, and me, Lyra needed nothing more. Until one day, she didn't need me.

A brief moment when Cora let Lyra run ahead. 

I remember the moment clearly. We had moved into the San Diego house (the current one we are in, after the Studio) and Lyra, Cora, and I were walking down the street to meet Eric who was walking home from work. Cora is an incredibly fast runner. She is also much bigger and stronger than Lyra. It used to drive Lyra nuts how Cora would bolt ahead, running up to the corner where she'd spin and then run back to us. Lyra couldn't keep up. She couldn't even try to catch her. Every time Cora did this, which was on every walk, every time, Lyra would first try screaming after her to, 'wait for me, Cora!' and when Cora just kept running, then Lyra would stomp her feet and throw her fists up in frustration and cry.

I'd then have to cajole her forward. 'One day you'll catch up. One day you'll be big enough. One day you will probably beat her.' And then I'd offer her my hand we'd walk together while Cora ran her back-and-forth sprints.

On the particular day I saw her not need me for the first time, we were out doing this walk and I said, again, trying to ease her pain at being left in the dust, "Lyra, do you want to hold my hand?" She had never, NOT ONCE, said no. This time though, she said,

"No, " and paused. She clasped both of her hands together in front of her and kept walking beside me. "I'll hold my OWN hand."

And that was that. That was the beginning of Lyra's very swift move toward autonomy, toward the fierce independence that we know in her today. It was about the same time that she really stopped actively sucking her thumb too. She had found an inner way to self-soothe, on all accounts. 

She still loved me though. Of that I was sure. The first time Cora said she wanted to marry someone, she said she wanted to marry her daddy. The first time Lyra said she wanted to marry someone, she said she wanted to marry me.

"Mom, can I marry you?"

"That is so sweet, Lyra. But I'm sorry. I'm already married to daddy. Besides, you can't marry someone in your own family."

Lyra's expressive face and chubby cheeks frowned, signaling her distaste with this response.

"I'll marry daddy then."

"No, again, I'm sorry, but daddy is married to me, and you can't marry someone in your family."

"Okay, I'll marry Cora then."

"Oh buddy, I'm sorry. But you can't marry your sister."

Truly pained at these absolute rebuffs, Lyra sobbed, "but who will marry me?"

I hugged her. "I don't know. Maybe you will find someone one day who you will want to marry, but you don't have to marry if you don't want to."

"I know." Her jaw jutted up in defiance. "I'll marry myself."

Well okay then, Merida (and no, she hadn't seen Brave at that point.)

This is Lyra.

"I will hold my own hand."

"I'll marry myself."

"Me do it! Me!!!"

Eric and I frequently ask ourselves, "what will she do when she is older? What will she do with this inner grit? We long to be able to see her adult life and the amazing things she'll be able to do with such spirit. 

Lyra marches to the beat of her own drum. I'm glad she has a family that reads Thoreau, because we'll encourage this for her whole life. 

Lyra does an impromptu, interpretive dance, Palomar Mountain Observatory Campground, September, 2015

Her art is unique. It usually involves swirls, circles, amorphous shapes, and little dashes and dots. She can also focus intently on creating. I've been entranced watching her at only age two, focus on a piece of art for up to 25 minutes straight.

She worked on this piece for almost 25 minutes, not even 3 years old at the time. That's a toddler's dedication to art right there.

Lyra also loves to sing, and like Cora, she makes up her own songs spontaneously.

Lyra sings her Princess Song.

A little ditty about fish sticks.

 Lyra singing her own Sunshine Song.

Being 2.5 years younger than her older sister matters not at all to Lyra. Whatever Cora is doing, Lyra wants to do.

If Cora is riding a bike, than Lyra is too.

If Cora is in a dock cart, Lyra too!

Cora playing with babies? Lyra too.

"Take a picture of me, mom!"

Does Cora want to play in the yard? So does Lyra.

If Cora dresses up as a queen, Lyra will too.

Tea party? Sure, sister.

Wanna play in a cardboard box? You betcha.

Lyra absolutely idolizes her big sister.

Now that Cora knows how to read, the awe has deepened. 

"Cora, will you read me this book?" 

"Cora, what does this say?"

"Cora, will you help me write a letter."

Cora helps every time.

To know Lyra, is to love her. More about the goofball that is my youngest daughter in my next post.


Carry The Future ~ It Matters to this One

Ferry after ferry arrives, and there to meet the refugees are volunteers from all over the world.

We represent Carry The Future. And we are ready to help in the way we have chosen.

Photo by Lulu Potts

Other volunteers stand ready with food and fresh drinks. This is Project Soup-Port.

These men speak Arabic and Greek. They are friends. They volunteer together, throwing on the bright green vests when they are at the port so we can send people to them in need of translators.

This is Debbie. She showed up at the port looking to volunteer. She has been an unofficial part of our team for much of the trip. Here Mary demonstrates how we fit a baby carrier.

Below I give you Carry The Future - Team Athens. These are young, local Greek volunteers who live in Athens and volunteer in between work and school. Thank you, friends!

This is Jeff. I realized he was American and started chatting with him as we waited for the ferry to arrive. "I babywore my boys," he nodded seeing the inherent logic in giving babycarriers to refugees.

"Oh, really?" I asked. "Then grab some carriers and lets go!" He jumped right in and held extra carriers in his arms as we fitted families. He took pictures too. Thanks, Jeff!

Sometimes I step back and look at all the people and wonder if we'll ever be able to help all those in need.

The answer is we can't.

But then I think of the Starfish Parable. You know, the one where an old man approaches a young girl on a beach who is throwing starfish back into the sea before they suffocate.

The old man looks incredulously at the millions of starfish and says, "this doesn't matter. You'll never be able to save them all."

Photo by Lulu Potts

And the little girl picks up another starfish, flings it back into the water, and says, "it mattered to that one."

Photo by Lulu Potts

And this one.

It mattered to them.

It mattered to her and her two week old baby.

It mattered here.

For baby Michael, it mattered. (And a baby Michael update here!)

Photos by Lulu Potts

It mattered to them.

Photo by Lulu Potts

And them.

Photo by Lulu Potts

And to so many others.

Photo by Lulu Potts

Sometimes waiting for the next boat we'd talk about the people that we had only minutes to meet, to touch, to help, and we'd wonder about their lives and where they'll go and if they'll be okay. 

Photo by Lulu Potts

And Margaret Mead reminds me, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

Thank you Carry The Future - Team Four for helping me be part of a group of people that is changing the world, one small act at a time. 


Carry The Future trip: Days 1-3

I met with two other members of our eight person team at LAX on Monday afternoon. There to meet us was Cristal Munoz-Logothetis, the founder of Carry The Future (CTF). You can learn more about how she conceived of the idea of babycarriers for refugees and how quickly CTF became an international volunteer organization here

The long flight from LA to Zurich was deliciously empty. Almost every person in the plane had their own row, or only one neighbor a few seats from them. It was an evening flight. The extra space, my TRTL pillow, and a sleep mask, meant I was actually able to sleep for a few hours of the 11 hour flight. 

We had a five hour layover in Zurich. We had flown through the night into day 2 of the trip and arrived in Zurich around 4pm their time. My friends Marco and René live in a little town just outside of Zurich called Winterthur. I hadn't seen them in 14 years. They were awesome enough to pick us up at the flughafen and entertain us for a bit before the flight to Athens. 

This is Courtney and Mary, fellow team members and awesome women. I loved that they were adventurous enough to go through customs in Zurich and willing to meet my friends in a new country based on just my word alone. I knew that Marco and René would not disappoint! 

They are just as handsome and funny as I remember them.

Us, in Lucerne, Switzerland, 2002.

Upon arrival we were treated to tapas and prosecco and then cappuccino, Swiss chocolate, and a rhubarb pie. 

Best layover of my life. Hands down.

Marco took us on a walk around his new neighborhood in Winterthur, including taking us into some revitalized industrial buildings. This library used to be a giant factory.

He has always had a knack for style, architecture, and good photo ops. These were sound chairs in the library.

When we meet, we try to do a celebratory air jump. This was us in front of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, 2002.

And here's the jump we managed to film in Wintherthur, February 2016.

Us, in Lucerne, Switerland, 2002.

And together again, although so briefly, in February 2016. Thank you Marco and René for your generosity and hospitality. Let's not wait another 14 years to see each other again, eh?

We got back to business with the flight to Athens. At this point we connected with a fourth team member, Heather, and we all flew the evening flight to Greece. When we landed in Greece we were the last ones in the airport.

There was four of us and 700lbs of baby carriers.

Pro tip for anyone reading this who plans to go on a future distribution trip with CTF: show up in Athens with Euros, including coins. Our credit cards wouldn't work in the Smart Cart machines. Also, find the guy who can grab the really, really, REALLY big luggage cart to help you move the carriers through customs and out to the waiting Opa! taxi. He charges a fee per bag. Bring Euros! (Don't wait to get them in the airport at Athens. None of the ATMs worked.)

Heather, me, Courtney, and Mary

After finally connecting with the really-big-cart-guy, we made it to our awaiting taxi which chugged along slowly under the weight of all those glorious carriers and 45 minutes after that we made it to our hotel. Of course all 700lbs of carriers needed to be stored. Some bags fit in the hotel's luggage room but most had to be hauled into the teeny-tiny European elevators and then dragged to our various rooms.

It was finally around 5:00am local time when I managed to get some sleep.  We had a morning meeting scheduled at 9:00am. Sleep is overrated. Coffee is your friend. 

Bright and early at the beginning of day three, 7 of the 8 of us finally got to meet. This is Leah, Heather, Amy, Courtney, Mary, and me. Lulu is taking our picture. Our 8th member, Jennifer, had been delayed getting out of Boston thanks to a snow storm.

After some quick how-do-you-do's and breakfast, we headed out to Port Piraeus, the port of Athens. 

Each of us took turns lugging the bags the two and a half miles to the dock where the first ferry with refugees would arrive that day.

The weather was glorious. It felt good to be around boats.

We waited in the terminal and admired some of the artwork drawn by refugee children in transit. Soon, the boat approached. 

See that ramp that is lowering? 1,000 refugees were about to deboard. 

This is the last photo I took because I started fitting carriers as soon as families with children were within reach.

Image by Lulu Potts

It was a flurry of activity for the entire time we had access to refugees with small children. For about an hour we worked non-stop fitting the right carrier to the right-size/age of each child.

Because I couldn't stop to take photos, the next picture in my camera is this. 

We were just one of many volunteer groups present. This food was provided by a grassroots organization called Projekt Soup-Port (soup-port...support, get it?) 

I highly suggest you check out their Facebook page. It is filled with cheery photos of young people feeding the hungry. 

Our awesome team photographer, Lulu, was able to document day three and all the baby carrier fittings we did.

She'll be posting her photos soon, and I promise to update and show you the work we are doing. I have these three as proof that I worked my ass off on day three. Never been happier to work so hard.

Photo by Lulu Potts

Photo by Lulu Potts

That evening we reconvened at the hotel and finally got to meet our eighth team member, Jennifer. 

Dinner didn't end our day though. After that bit of down time we had a late-night pow wow to de-brief and practice different carries for mei tais and the soft structured carriers we work with.

I'm very tired. This post is probably not that eloquent but I hope the photos have been able to show you the first three days (two of which were travel just to get here.) 

Lulu's video will give you an idea of what we do when the ferries arrive. One of our team members, Heather, shared these words that I believe coincide beautifully with the video.

"My favorite professor says, we influence the small circle that we can. Then small individual acts of justice and love fall like drops of rain to the earth and all together they become a flowing river that waters the earth with love...small individual acts of justice and love...one drop of rain at a time.

View her video here.

Thanks to all my friends and family for helping me Carry The Future.