Filmmaker Martine Blue and husband Isaac, along with their fur-pal Finski, climb aboard a sailboat headed for adventure as they float along after Farley Mowat
It started with an email from friend and filmmaker Martine Blue. “Our new adventure show dropped on Bell Fibe TV1. Floating After Farley is part reality show/part documentary. It’s a six episode series in which we retrace Farley Mowat’s sailing routes from The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float and Bay of Spirits. The journey changed my perspective and we had some really uncanny experiences that mirrored those of Farley and his wife Claire, including falling in love with the town of Gaultois and buying a house there,” she wrote. How compelling, I thought, and called her almost immediately.
Live the dream
The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat details the author’s fascinating though humorous journey across Canada, including his stay in various parts of Newfoundland, while trying to live the dream of becoming a sailor.
Things didn’t go according to plan for Mowat or the Blue trio either, it seemed, which makes the series all the more interesting. How did it all start?
“It was all so fascinating to me because I was already a fan of Farley Mowat’s work and then we moved here to Newfoundland from Ontario and there was a stage where Farley tied off that was on our property,” she began.
But that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves. The Blue crew always felt they had a connection to Newfoundland, even without having any family here.
“I’ve had really close friends who are from Newfoundland and that was what brought me here, well that, and the culture,” she shared.
The two lovebirds fell in love with this place, and with filmmaking, she added. “(Isaac) has always been on the road with me, always working on everything that I’ve ever done. His roles have shifted. If I needed a camera person, he did that, or he helped with the writing or the editing.”
And now, he’s captain of a sailboat? She laughed. “That’s a huge role. We went out once and hit rough seas we didn’t expect as there was every indication it wouldn’t be that bad. Isaac’s always on that to know what the weather’s like. He’s very diligent about it because I get sick and I get scared so he doesn’t want to turn me off sailing,” she said.
It wasn’t their best moment, though it did add a touch of harsh reality to their reality series. “It was pretty rough. I was freaked out and even Isaac looked worried but it was part of the adventure.”
She first became intrigued by Mowat’s connection to Newfoundland as a journalist.
“I was just fascinated by all of the stories around about Farley. Anytime I went out to do a story I’d hear something new. We wanted to find out more because he’s just such a fascinating character and such a prolific author and writer,” she said.
Did she discover anything about him that she didn’t know? So much, she shared. “I wanted to know why he did this trip (from his The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float). He sailed for years around Newfoundland and I wanted to know why. I wanted to know his connection to this place because I’m not from here either. Both Isaac and I are from Ontario, so what’s his connection to Newfoundland? And was it the same as ours? Was it the people and the culture? What was it?”
‘Not done yet’
What did she learn? “What really sticks is how innovative he was and how much he stood up for things that he believed in and how much of an innovative writer he was. He started this thing called creative nonfiction where he fictionalized biographical writing. He’s like the granddaddy of that. He was so good at getting to the emotional core of things and that engaged people.”
He wasn’t, she added, quite given the credit he deserved. “He helped people. There were people starving in the Arctic and he spoke up about them and wrote about them. Yes, he was an entertaining writer and that was part of his style, but he also often had a cause he was writing about.”
Things never went smoothly for Mowat on his journey, and it was the same for Martine and Isaac.
“We quit. We couldn’t finish the journey. Or it’s not done yet, so there’s hope for a few more episodes. We had problems with our boat, like major ridiculous problems, the same that Farley always had. He claims that’s the reason why his book was called The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float. He saw the boat as a person and he said she refused to go where he wanted it to. He thought she (the boat) was afraid of him taking her off the island, which he eventually did.”
Martine and Isaac had “major engine problems” and did some of the trip by car instead. Speaking of their sailboat, “She drove me,” Blue said.
“I took it personally. It sounds horrible but True North, she wasn’t true. She didn’t cooperate. We left her behind and we took off in the car. We couldn’t fix her without money. She quit on us and without the engine working we couldn’t sail with confidence when you have to sail into these skinny little harbors. If there’s no wind and you have no motor, it could be something catastrophic. We couldn’t sail that way.”
Was she happy with the outcome of Floating After Farley? She paused. “It’s a reality show/documentary series. I’m calling it a literary odyssey, but you can call it an adventure show, but it goes personal. It’s a documentary about Farley, but it covers our journey too.”
There’s beauty. There’s peaceful moments. There’s real fear. There’s overcoming hardships and then more hardships. And there’s a whole lot of discovery – about themselves and about Farley Mowat.
“I hope it’s an eye opener. I hope it’s educational. But I also hope it’s enjoyable. It was all those things for us.”
For more on Floating After Farley visit Bell Fibe TV 1 or Bell Fibe TV channel 1 and the Bell Fibe TV app!