Position: 37°35′49”N 0°58′48”W

Albert in his chariot
Our neighbours’, Michael and Karen’s, dog Albert fell ill a few weeks ago. Albert is a King Charles spaniel. He was distressed and in pain. His back legs had failed him, and he couldn’t walk. Michael asked me if I’d be willing to drive Albert and him to the vet. Of course, I said.

Albert was kicking up such a ruckus that Michael had to hold him in his arms. Albert showed his appreciation by sinking his teeth into Michael’s earlobe, drawing blood. He’d never done anything like that before. As Michael and the vet consulted, I circled the neighbourhood. The initial diagnosis needed another opinion. An opinion in Murcia. Fifty kilometres away. No problem.

Not wanting to drug Albert before the other vet had seen him meant Michael had his hands full in the back seat. My job was to drive as fast as possible without getting arrested. It was the height of the pandemic and the roads were empty. Besides, we were dealing with an emergency.

The final diagnosis was something akin to doggy multiple sclerosis. Albert’s nerves lacked enough fat to keep them working properly. Being sensitive of stomach, Michael and Karen had kept him on a low-fat diet. But his diet lacked some essential oils and that led to raw nerves and spasticity.

The good news is that after three weeks of fish oil supplements, doggy Valium, and regular exercise Albert is returning to his old self.

Survivor & Collaboration

I’ve always had an issue with the American Western myth of the lone hero rescuing the town. It’s a myth that perpetuates. It permeates American culture. Take Survivor, the TV show. As a franchise it’s been incredibly successful, and its spawned dozens of imitations. As a model for survival, however, its winner takes all concept stinks. Which is why I’ve never sat through more than a couple of episodes.

The idea of landing on a remote island and living off the land using only your bare hands holds no interest for me. Some people aspire to such things. I don’t. Back in the 18th century, malcontent sailors (and mutinied captains) got marooned. Literally cast off the ship on a deserted island with nothing but sand flies and scrub to live on. Most didn’t survive long. For me, dropping an anchor with a freezer full of brews is far more attractive. Providing of course you have enough fuel, water and tequila to ride out Armageddon – or at least a pandemic spike or two.

You see, survival requires collaboration. And collaboration is more than cooperation. Collaboration, by definition, is the act of working with someone to create something. You can cooperate by doing nothing. Kind of like Mitch McConnell. But nothing of real value is created from passive cooperation. Real value creation begs for collaboration.

Collaboration is hard. It’s messy. It requires empathy and subordination of ego. That’s why collaboration is easier during a crisis. When your survival is at stake, you really need other people’s help. And you’ll set aside trivial things like who’s team you support. It’s just not that important.

Sailing communities, especially long-term and liveaboard sailors, understand this. Our lives aren’t all beer and beach umbrellas. Sometimes it really is about survival. Sharing tools, know-how, and supporting each other is part of what makes the community stronger.

Sometimes all that’s needed for successful collaboration is a car with a willing driver and a couple of band-aids.

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14 Comments

  1. Just FYI, all is well here in Albuquerque. Any plans for return to US ? Seems you’ve been on lockdown for years, but good to hear some restrictions have been lifted. Hang in there !

    bill and alice willis
    1. Thanks Bill and Alice. Please drag your neighbor out for a socially distant cocktail on your respective decks. Stay safe and we will be back for a visit as soon as conditions allow!

  2. Yes. Covid has broken our illusion of separation. It seems to be inviting us to realize we are one…and what we do ripples into our planet. “Corona” means compassion. No coincidence this, methinks. For a mind opening experience, may I suggest you listen to MAEJOR–“Volume One Frequency” album–he has produced the first sound-healing music in history. It is said that 432 hrtz is the healing frequency, But what do I know. Blissings and blessings, you two. Stay well. The planet needs your continued insights and wisdom. Namaste.

    cindy happel
  3. I am glad to hear that Albert is on the mend thanks to collaboration! I look forward to another collaboration in the future. (I just wrote a pandemic song which I was calling “running in circles”. After having a social distanced discussion with a neighbor, I changed it to “standing in circles”. I think there could be a lot of really good footage for a video!)

    Erin
  4. Mike, I agree that in true survival situations extraordinary measures of collaboration are necessary. I have always enjoyed reading tales of heroic gritty determination. The Shackleton expedition comes to mind as one remarkable adventure of endurance, courage and perseverance by an entire ship of men stranded in the ice floes of Antarctica.

    A close friend shared that we are all experiencing the same storm in this global pandemic but corrected the notion that we are in the same boat. We are certainly not. Many people around the world are floundering under the viruses grip; suffering hardship due to a job loss; or experiencing loneliness in their utter isolation. Ironically, many other folks are cruising along in relative luxury and comfort on their boats. Personally, even though I have just gone through cancer surgery, I feel blessed to be on my own stable ship and surrounded by a very caring and supportive community. The hospital was eerily quiet and the entire medical staff was conscientious and kind while in that boat.

    I may have shared this storm and boat analogy with Carol in recent conversations but it seems pretty profoundly true for the two of you. You’re literally living on a boat!

    Your captaincy and Carol’s collaboration have been remarkable even prior to COVID-19. I’ve admired your calm, perseverance and humanity in dealing with this crisis as you’ve been stuck in a port after lengthy periods of isolation crossing the ocean and such. You’ve demonstrated true British grit and determination. Stiff upper lip. Lol

    I regret that my own busyness and minimal social media usage has prevented my following your adventures on Aleta more closely. I’m determined to do better.

    Wishing you and Carol safe travel to Majorca and hoping you can reach Turkey in a fun and timely fashion.

    Be safe!

    Cheers!

    Geoff and Sarah

    Geoff Kemble
    1. Hey Geoff and Sarah, We are indeed blessed by our families, our friends and our communities. Your note brought a tear to Carol’s eye and made our day. Keep up the great work on your recovery , and make sure you’ve taken enough time. Your sister has a habit of trying to skip doctor’s orders to get better faster. I’m sure you’re much wiser! We look forward to sailing with you as soon as we can.

  5. Mike, thank you for the kind note.

    Your comment about Carol’s health tendencies is priceless. Her siblings are guilty of the same head strong desire to go it alone and push too hard. After all, we’re bulletproof. We’re Kemble’s!

    My most senior employee, Nancy, and her family travelled with us to Hawaii and California as a bonus the past two summers. She witnessed my dog tired arrival from a solo swim crossing of Kealakekua Bay to Captain Cook’s monument. Problem was that I failed to tell anyone I was attempting this little adventure. It didn’t look as far as it was. Lol. Fortunately, a local helicopter pilot paddled by at about 2/3 crossing and offered me an escort. Needless to say, he was shocked to find a 60+ year old alone in the massive bay. I shamelessly and thankfully accepted his offer and even an occasional tow assist on the way back (to keep me swimming straighter). Loaded him up with beer upon landing.

    Anyway, I got what I deserved including a severe tongue lashing and, ultimately, three days of sickness from overexposure to some nasty bacteria (we later noted several warning signs at various bays.) Earlier on the trip I jumped off a 40 foot platform and shorted out my GoPro upon impact. Costco rescued me and I later exchanged a second one.

    Nancy’s parting text message prior to my surgery simply read, “behave yourself.” She knows me too well!

    Full confession, Sarah and I escaped to the beach for a couple of days this weekend. We got a great deal on a last minute AirBnB booking. In addition, we did not have Lana in tow. The crisp ocean air and long walks were wonderfully therapeutic! I did behave myself.

    Sarah and I would be thrilled to rendezvous with you at a future port whenever international air travel resumes again. In the meantime, we’re hoping for sensible and prudent domestic trips by car.

    Be safe!

    Ciao!!

    Geoff and Sarah

    Geoff Kemble
  6. Very interested to read about diet and myelin sheaths. The yummy mummies in suburbia had to be reminded that under 5s need full fat milk because certain vital nutrients ie Vitamins A,D,E and K need fat in order to be absorbed by the body. Too many infants were turning up at school mal-nourished!

    Vicky
  7. As Alberts mum & dad we would like to thank Mike, Carol & Marlon (who supplied the much needed life jacket for hydrotherapy) without them we do not know what the outcome would have been. So we three thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

    Karen Clark

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