When we imagine great hero of conservation, we have very specific criteria in mind – legendary contributions, moving millions of people forward in practical and philosophical ways and often braving serious personal (and often professional) risk. These are giants doing big things. William Beebe pressing the edge of early oceanography in an iron bathyscape, Cousteau and Emile Gagnan redefining how man could go to sea with the first SCUBA gear, Aldo Leopold as an incisive US Forest Ranger/ Professor whose remarkably deep yet approachable writings virtually defined wilderness conservation. We owe these people a huge amount of our progress.
Early this morning we found a hero of a different sort. I got this email late yesterday confirming this mornings events:
The order has been processed. I’ll be at the service station by 08.00 hrs. The services are south of the M4 J13 on your right as you approach from the A34 south.
For those of you who may not know UK geography, the M4 is a major motorway in the UK, near Oxford. Kevyn is a BP employee and inbound crew that is, as I write, boarding an RAF charter flight out of Brize Norton Air Base in the UK- for his flight to Ascension to join the Sea Dragon Team. Graham, is a technical support rep at Stuart Turner Pumps in Oxford. The “order” refers to a small, but remarkably important water pump that feeds the low pressure side of our very important Spectra Farrallon water makers. Water makers make water – fresh from salt. At 70 gallons per hour, the Spectra is impressive…but not if the first Stuart Turner is not working. Its a long story about how we got to this time of need – see departure blogs for a hint.
I got word from the boat that “Houston, we have a problem” late Tuesday – barely 72 hours ago. I called Stuart Turner in Oxford Wednesday mid afternoon UK time. Graham sourced the pump and then tied into Kevyn – running hard to get out of work and down to Brize Norton. The two of them engineered to make the hand-off in the early hours of this morning – at a roadway rest stop in southern England.
Making this huge extra effort to divert family time and go out of their way to get this pump moving down to the boat was, in its relative sense, heroic. THANK YOU both. We see this type of extra mile commitment to supporting the Sea Dragon/ 5 Gyre Expeditions on a regular basis. This is just the latest, most colorful example. Those of us who are fortunate to go to sea and do the actual front-line work are totally dependent on the kind of service, commitment and initiative shown by Graham and Kevyn today.
Stuart Turner has been in Oxford since 1906 starting as a steam engine company. They build generators for Shackelton’s Endurance in the Antarctic, field power units in the first Great War, and small boat engines used to get commando teams into Europe during the Second War, and now…critical water flow pumps for Sea Dragon. Have a look at an interesting history that gives great example of the importance of private enterprise and entrepreneurial leadership – website