|49° 31' 28'' N, 55° 12' 52'' W|
|May We Rant and Roar No More - Michael Paul Samson
reprinted from the Advertiser, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, 07 January, 2002
I was sailing my gaff-rigged punt across Salvage harbour in early August when I met Michael Paul Samson. Appearing in the narrows, a bright yellow kayak paddled over to meet me as I crept along, almost becalmed. I invited Michael ashore for lunch. Lisa and I listened as his story unfolded.
Michael had left Port aux Basques in early summer, had paddled all along the south and east coasts to arrive on the beach in Salvage. This was a brief stop on his voyage to solely circumnavigate the island of Newfoundland. But Michael's journey was longer than that and was far from over.
He recounts it all with powerful feeling in his newly released book: May We Rant and Roar No More: a sea kayak journey around Newfoundland, published by Pottersfield Press.
In the foreword, he writes of the book:
'It was written in a two-month isolated hiatus from civilization in a one-room cabin, whose two front piers were constantly soaked with the salt of the cold North Atlantic. The journey really began when I found myself on the Indian sub-continent less than a year before, battling ancestral demons and cursing the greed of the modern world. Two years of dedicated wandering found me repulsed, sickened and scared. I'd made substantial strides toward understanding, sympathizing and integrating myself with people - people simply alive and focused on essentials. An existence not long ago similar to that of the pre-Confederation Newfoundlander. I was on the other side of the planet, striving to learn of another culture and wanting desperately to be active in preserving some diversity… when I realized I'd never given nearly this much effort to the culture to which I came. I had to go thousands of miles away from my homeland before I realized the most important thing I could do was, in fact, go home.'Michael returned to Newfoundland. On May 21, he began his 1,635 nautical mile voyage, which was divided into two parts.
The first leg involved going counterclockwise from Port aux Basques along the south and east coasts to his parents' home in Botwood, Notre Dame Bay, and then returning by road to Port aux Basques and starting again. This time he went clockwise around the top of the Northern Peninsula to arrive home in the third week of September.
He did this in order to capitalize on the most favourable prevailing winds, but consequently, he ended up paddling toward home twice in the same voyage.
This is appropriate, since this book is essentially about returning home.
Michael was given up for adoption at birth and raised in a loving family. It was in his nature to question everything, right down to the fundamental reasons for his, and by extension, our existence.
In the solitude of paddling on the ocean, he hoped to discover what his attachment was, to his family, to his fellow man and to the society whose excesses and over-richness, Michael feels, are blinding all of us to the answers to these questions.
There is a lot of emotion here. This is a man in his early 20's, who is seeking an inner peace and often sounds really poisoned that everyone else just doesn't get it. On the other hand, it is touching how affected he is by the many simple acts of kindness he receives from the strangers he encounters at sea and on shore who give him food, shelter and advice. They also, as I discovered at our place in Salvage, gave him an opportunity to get a lot off his chest.
There are well-written passages where he describes dispassionately thinking his way through some life-threatening conditions at sea; identifying a danger, choosing a course of action and throwing himself into it with everything he's got.
As a kayaker on a much more limited scale myself, I found these descriptions riveting, possibly because the clarity of thought was so evident in the directness of his words.
There is humour as well.
When he described a windy, cold and foggy day, far out to sea and the moral and physical dilemma [arising] of whether or not to wet his pants, I almost did.
In his tirades against all that he finds wrong with the way we lead our lives in 21st century Newfoundland and North America, Michael's writing doesn't live up to the obvious finesse of his paddling. [However], his passion for what is right is evident and most of his sentiments I share.
In the kayak, he understands the importance of the strength and length of a paddle stroke, of a sense of balance and the need to brace to remain upright against the overwhelming force of a sudden-breaking wave.
When he discovers how to translate that wide and subtle range of skills onto the written page, his writing will find an eager audience.
May We Rant and Roar No More describes a remarkable sea voyage. The author has embarked on an inner voyage that will be a life-long one. At its end are truth, humanity and peace. The wind, waves, tides and shoals are many and dangerous.
Anyone who reads this book will wish him a windless crossing to a safe harbour.
Peter is a writer, painter and cartoonist living in Salvage, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland.
|Box 373RR3 Fortune Harbour, Newfoundland A0H 1E0
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