I sobbed big, ugly girl tears watching the recent video of Motor Yacht Dragonfly and her crew save the day at Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam ripped through the island nation in the South Pacific and left nearly all villages destroyed.
It took the 73m beauty three-and-a-half days and 1,600 nautical miles to reach the stricken islands in the aftermath of the March 12 disaster. In the video, Captain Mike Gregory and his crew are seen mucking in, setting up clinics, pumping out tons of fresh water and rebuilding houses — all thanks to the financial muscle and moral support from the yacht’s owner.
The ironic paradox of the world’s wealthiest lending a humble hand to the world’s poorest is something we don’t see often in our neck of the woods. But my God does our industry need more of this heart-felt, good Samaritan stuff where life’s more than the thread-count in Egyptian cotton or a crease on a pair of underpants.
It took me back to a brief stint I did on an explorer vessel in the Indian Ocean islands and the baking summer’s day when one of the local fishermen canoed up to our 60-odd metre monster, in the hope of exchanging a few of his fresh lobsters for some of our old crew clothes.
Our industry need more of this heart-felt, good Samaritan stuff where life’s more than the thread-count in Egyptian cotton
We saw him coming at us for kilometres, oar-stroke-by-oar-stroke, across that glassy, white island water. We watched him inch closer-and-closer from the beach to where we were on anchor; minutes passed, almost hours it seemed. Security were on high alert; binoculars out; weapons cocked. By the time he reached us — the harmless and penniless old man that he was — the contradiction of our lives and his was too stark to ignore.
It was a kind of real-life metaphor: his dugout fishing canoe and our multi-million dollar super yacht; his relative nothingness and our everything-ness; in some ways his relative everything-ness and our nothingness, colliding there on that baking summer’s day in Zanzibar. I’ll never forgot how I felt afterwards, going back to the galley and unpacking Woolworths tomatoes and rocket and black Nespresso pods that had been flown in by helicopter that morning.
And I still don’t understand the contradiction of it all or why life could be so cruel; so obviously and tauntingly cruel to those of us who care to think twice about it. But this is the world we live in so turn a blind eye or you’ll be morally conflicted forever and a day.
The super yachting world might still have a thing or two to accomplish
But the super yachting world — where there’s so much waste and exorbitance and grossness in all of the money and so little thought on how to use resources more sparingly, more meaningfully, and to make a genuine difference to the world’s sorry state of affairs — might still have a thing or two to accomplish.
So thank you Motor Yacht Dragonfly and your heroic crew and brave boss for showing us that charity is possible at sea and that life does go beyond the length of our own noses. The yachting community applauds you.