SAN DIEGO - Six days after a family of four found themselves helpless and adrift in a sailboat far into the Pacific with a vomiting, feverish 1-year-old, a Navy warship delivered them safely Wednesday to San Diego.
In a photo released by the Navy, the family looked like typical vacationers, with father Eric dressed in shorts and a baseball cap while lugging bags, and his wife, Charlotte, walking behind him, holding the toddler in a strap-on carrier and grasping the hand of her 3-year-old daughter.
The happy scene was a far cry from the miserable conditions described by Navy sailors.
They said poor visibility, winds of 10 knots and rough seas kept them from sending a rescue boat to the Kaufmans for hours on Sunday. When they did reach the family's sailboat, 5- to 8-foot waves forced them to offload one person at a time. The effort took two hours.
"Stand on top of a 6-foot ladder, have a friend throw a bucket of saltwater in your face, rinse and repeat for two hours," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Ian Matthew Gabriel.
"The 3-year-old was having a ball. She thought it was the most fun thing ever and the rest of us were white-knuckled," Lt. Junior Grade Chris Cheezum said.