What a Shipwreck Taught Me about Retirement: Part IV


I didn’t tell you earlier, but Druett’s book also is about another vessel, the Invercauld, which wrecked on the same island, at approximately the same time as the Grafton (though each crew did not know of the other’s existence).

However, the story of the Invercauld differed drastically. While all member of the Grafton would one day get off the island, only three of the 19 aboard the Invercauld made it out. And the reason wasn’t simply fate.

The Invercauld crew took the exact opposite actions as did the men of the Grafton. While the latter was innovative, the first was unimaginative and lazy. While the Grafton was resourceful, the Invercauld not only failed to find new assets; they squandered what provisions they had. While the crew of the Grafton kept to a rigorous routine, the Invercauld men slept most of the time, some dying in their sleep alongside a dying fire.

Which illustrated another key strategy. The men of the Grafton took risks. The men of the Invercauld did not. In fact, in the end the survivors of the Invercauld were (luckily) found by a passing ship. The crew of the Grafton constructed a small boat (too small for the stormy South Pacific) and sailed it 300 miles to New Zealand.

Wearing a mask and social distancing are important strategies, but we soon realized we wouldn’t survive the pandemic only by hiding. The men of the Grafton taught us that.

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