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A little sailing story blows in a gale

Was it the August doldrums? Or maybe the prevailing angst in this time of war, spills and downturns? Whatever the reason, a lot of readers have been indulging in a bit of escapist fantasy over the last two days. Our Sunday feature about a Severna Park family's seven-year sailing voyage erupted into a full-fledged on-line phenomenon.

From a humble spot in the corner of Sunday's front page and on the home page, interest in the Crafton family's chuck-it-all tale of togetherness in all latitudes began to build. I could tell the story was burrowing into the prevailing zeitgeist from the growing number of emails I was getting into the evening, from ever more distant parts of the world and mostly starting with some variation of "I have always wanted to do that..."

By Monday, a long list of bloggers had linked to the story, and then Yahoo News featured it . By the end of the day, a near-record number of readers had clicked on the story and Marvin Joseph's wonderful gallery of photos.

We heard about the Craftons thanks to a tipster who met them recently in local waters. We knew right away it would make a sweet summer story of one family's attempt to navigate the modern world on their own terms. We did not expect to make a run at any records.

Neither did the Craftons. "Well, you've certainly given me a lot to do today," was how father Tom Crafton greeted me, harried but laughing, on the phone Monday. He was facing the hurricane of emails and offers that came pouring in.

Included in the many I forwarded were overtures from book agents, producers, television bookers and lots and lots of wanna-be sailors. One petitioner claimed to represent Disney. And it looks like the wave will only build; Crafton said ABC and CBS had been out to shoot segments for their evening national newscasts, and they were heading to New York today to be on the CBS Early Show Wednesday.

Godspeed to the Craftons! It's a lot to deal with for a family that has spent most of the last decade happily avoiding all things modern and hyped. Tom is a mellow dude, pony-tailed and observant, who had to take a nap after his brief exposure to a Wal-Mart soon after landing in Maryland. But they are a strong, creative and resilient bunch; here's hoping they handle an Internet storm with the same aplomb they used in all those real ones.

By Steve Hendrix  | August 3, 2010; 11:58 AM ET
Categories:  The Blowback  
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So, for a family who took off 7 years ago to get away from it all, they are now ready to cash in on the "deals" being offered? How disappointing if they do. I was really hoping that this family would not buy into all the "virtual reality" type hype to capitalize off their adventures, Then I could actually believe that they were sincere in their efforts to escape all of this capitalism and need for material things...

Posted by: pennv | August 3, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Hollywood would screw it up. If anything, it would make a good book in the tradition of sailing literature. Instead of Two Years before the Mast, or Gypsy Moth, perhaps Seven Years before the Mast?

Posted by: jckdoors | August 3, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

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