Living conditions were nonetheless hard for the men because of the tropical climate and the prolonged isolation… Maintaining a pearl farm under these conditions was indeed quite an achievement. The smallest incident could reduce years of hard work to nothing. A raft’s strap might break, causing the oysters to slip to the bottom where they would perish in the muddy coral sand. If a boat’s motor broke down, there was no calling for help. It had to be hurriedly repaired to avoid floating like a cork on the waves or being smashed into the reefs.
Electricity came only much later. And our team of Robinson Crusoes did not even have the luxury of relaxing in the nearby waters where sharks were always on the prowl. The slightest injury could end in tragedy if we didn’t have the right kind of medicines available. We had to foresee every eventuality, in double or triple, since anything could happen. Bearing up and living under such conditions, the men—my men—were truly exceptional.