Kayak­ers un­able to make Fogo Is­land but find mean­ing in the jour­ney

Veter­ans, busi­ness lead­ers say Cabot Ex­pe­di­tion was the ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time

The Beacon (Gander) - - News - BY JOSH HEALEY Twit­ter: @joshrjhealey josh.healey@tc.tc

The wind was blowing from the north, push­ing the thick fields of ice closer to shore and ef­fec­tively end­ing any hopes of the Cabot Ex­pe­di­tion mak­ing Fogo Is­land by kayak.

The news should have been dev­as­tat­ing; mem­bers of the True Pa­triot Love (TPL) ex­pe­di­tion, a mix of mil­i­tary veter­ans and busi­ness lead­ers, had pre­pared for this jour­ney for months.

How­ever, as TPL chair Mike Dur­land ex­plained, the team still felt ac­com­plished.

“Some­times life is not about the des­ti­na­tion,” said Dur­land. “We were the luck­i­est peo­ple in the world to be to­gether with one an­other.”

Af­ter what Dur­land de­scribed as a “brief mo­ment of dis­ap­point­ment”, the nar­ra­tive quickly changed as the team took a mo­ment to ap­pre­ci­ate their sur­round­ings.

“We found our­selves pad­dling around this quiet, pro­tected lit­tle field of ice, drift­ing, with not a wave on the ocean,” he said.

The wa­ter was so clean that at 20 feet you could see the bot­tom like you were look­ing through a sheet of glass.”

Dur­land said that by the time the team headed home, he felt like each had ex­pe­ri­enced a mo­ment of peace that would change them for­ever.

Don­ald Hookey, a mil­i­tary vet­eran from Port Rex­ton, said the ex­pe­ri­ence was un­par­al­leled.

“It was phys­i­cally de­mand­ing, it was men­tally de­mand­ing but be­cause of the group we were with, it worked out in the end,” said Hookey.

The el­e­ments

Through­out the ex­pe­di­tion, the el­e­ments posed a chal­lenge.

The ini­tial launch from Birchy Bay on June 10 was de­layed due to high winds, forc­ing the team to make up the lost time by pad­dling 22 kilo­me­ters the next day to Dildo Run Pro­vin­cial Park.

In an at­tempt to cir­cum­vent the ice, the team jumped around and pad­dled an­other 24 kilo­me­ters but was ul­ti­mately forced back to the park due to weather con­di­tions.

For Hookey, he said he learned a lot about him­self and the civil­ian par­tic­i­pants.

“I’m stronger than what I thought I was,” he said. “(The civil­ians) aren’t as in­tim­i­dat­ing as we thought. They are truly ded­i­cated to ev­ery thing they said they were go­ing to do.”

Dur­land high­lighted that TPL ex­pe­di­tions fo­cus on pro­vid­ing par­tic­i­pants with an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing

unique in their lives.

“In many ways, we thought con­quer­ing the chal­lenge was go­ing to be what sparked that mo­ment. What re­ally sparked that mo­ment was the re­al­iza­tion that there’s some­thing a whole lot more pow­er­ful than us,” said Dur­land.

Kristina Schreiber, di­rec­tor of TPL’s Ex­pe­di­tions and Events, high­lighted the ob­sta­cles the team faced.

“This year, they are see­ing more ice than in the last 42 years,” wrote Schreiber via email. “Bat­tling the el­e­ments each step of the way, the Cabot team faced whip­ping winds, rain, tides, ice­bergs and open wa­ter off the coast.”

De­spite the harsh con­di­tions, Hookey said the ex­pe­di­tion gave him a sense of the ca­ma­raderie he missed from his mil­i­tary days.

Dur­land, who’s been in­volved with TPL since 2012, said that he ex­pects to re­turn to New­found­land.

“I think there’s a re­ally good chance that we’ll come back and try and con­quer this mis­sion one more time.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF TRUE PA­TRIOT LOVE FOUN­DA­TION

Kayak­ers from the True Pa­triot Love (TPL) ex­pe­di­tion were un­able to make Fogo Is­land and forced to aban­don the ex­pe­di­tion as a re­sult of un­usual amounts of pack ice.

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