Ocean ad­ven­ture a thrill for Matt Fo­ley

Pla­cen­tia rower will al­ways re­mem­ber ex­pe­ri­ence aboard Basque boat

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

The lone New­found­lan­der aboard the tra­di­tional Basque boat that made an epic jour­ney across Pla­cen­tia Bay will re­mem­ber the ex­pe­ri­ence for a long time to come.

“To be hon­est, I think it will be a piece of my life that will al­ways stay with me, be­cause I didn’t think I would ever row across Pla­cen­tia Bay or For­tune Bay in (a boat),” vet­eran Pla­cen­tia-based rower and coxswain Matt Fo­ley told The Com­pass last Fri­day.

“But just to have the ex­pe­ri­ence to do it with these guys that I had never met be­fore and know now that I can do it and I achieved it — it’s cer­tainly an eye opener.”

Fo­ley did not get to row all the way to St-Pierre-Miquelon with the in­ter­na­tional crew due to work com­mit­ments. He went as far as Brunette Is­land in For­tune Bay be­fore re­turn­ing to Pla­cen­tia Aug. 4, one day be­fore In­di­anoak made it to Miquelon. He ul­ti­mately com­pleted six of the 10 legs on the crew’s sched­ule. The ex­cur­sion was tied to an­nual Ter­nua fes­tiv­i­ties that cel­e­brate Basque cul­ture in StPierre-Miquelon.

The boat left Pla­cen­tia July 28, fea­tur­ing a crew com­ing from Que­bec, France and Spain.

“At times it was kind of dif­fi­cult, be­cause most of the peo­ple were speak­ing their own lan­guage, but there was two other peo­ple in the group that could speak a bit of English, and they trans­lated things back and forth,” said Fo­ley. He had not met any of his new­found com­rades prior to the day they de­parted from Pla­cen­tia, but Fo­ley quickly grew ac­cus­tomed to their com­pany.

“They wel­comed me with open arms. They in­volved me with ev­ery­thing … I couldn’t ask for a nicer, bet­ter bunch of peo­ple.”

There were lots of high­lights for Fo­ley, but one mo­ment that stood out was com­ing into La­ma­line July 30.

“We rowed al­most eight hours that day be­fore we could change over, be­cause the sea was too bad, and I’m telling you, the girl that coxed us, she’s one of the best that I have ever met. To han­dle a crew like she done at a boat on a four-me­tre sea, it was cer­tainly an eye opener.”

The first stretch from Pla­cen­tia to Pe­tite Forte on the Burin Penin­sula was the big­gest chal­lenge Fo­ley faced, but after that the row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­came more rou­tine.

“Like I said, their style of row­ing com­pared to ours was com­pletely dif­fer­ent, and once I picked it up, it was a whole lot eas­ier,” he said. “It seemed like you were only out for a pad­dle ev­ery­day.”

He loved the ex­pe­ri­ence of ar­riv­ing in com­mu­ni­ties where large crowds came out to wel­come In­di­anoak and the crew. Fo­ley par­tic­u­larly ap­pre­ci­ated the food they re­ceived, given the row­ers re­lied on gra­nola bars and wa­ter while out in the boat.

“The re­cep­tion was great — awe­some.”


Matt Fo­ley of Pla­cen­tia, far left, poses for a photo along­side crewmem­bers of In­di­anoak dur­ing a stop in St. Lawrence.

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