family lost at seaA family of four, including a 4-year-old child, is missing off the coast of Monterey, California after taking their sailboat named Charm Blow out for a day trip. A chilling distress call says the family was "abandoning ship," but the Coast Guard has had no luck finding the family. All the electronics (including the GPS) on board the ship apparently failed.

The family had told the Coast Guard they were going to build a life raft out of a cooler and a life preserver. The Coast Guard searched for them through the night, and several other vessels and aircraft have joined to help, but all to no avail.

This story is a parent's absolute worst nightmare. To be bobbing out at sea with a small child who either can't swim or is a new swimmer, with nothing but a cooler to hold on to? I can't even imagine. I hate to criticize them, but the fact is, a warning had been issued for strong winds and rough seas in the area over the weekend. Small crafts were warned to stay out. Hear the call below:

I don't know much about sailing, but I have to imagine that people in small crafts need to be mindful of warnings, especially people with small children. As the mother of a 4-year-old myself, I can't even imagine being with him, alone in the water, in rough seas. It's beyond comprehension.

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But there are other strange parts to this story, too. They had a cousin with them, but no indication of who this cousin is or even who the family is yet. There have been no missing persons reports filed and no luck identifying anyone who knows anything about them.

Is it possible it's a hoax? As of now, the Coast Guard is obviously taking it very, very seriously. As they should be. It's unimaginable. And not knowing a thing about sailing, it's hard to even judge whether this family did something irresponsible or not.

Are there warnings like this all the time? Is the mother (or the father) an incredibly experienced sailor who goes out every weekend? Knowing some of these answers might create a clearer picture of why someone would take their own preschooler and a young child who didn't belong to them at all out for a pleasure cruise on high seas.

As of now, the number one priority should obviously be getting everyone back, safe and sound. It may be a pipe dream, but it's possible. Let's hope that this story has a happy ending and some of these questions are answered.

Is 4 years old too young to be on a sailboat in open water?