We meet people every day. Some who change our lives forever, some we can’t remember five minutes after being introduced, and some we don’t realize are famous in their own right until afterward.
Such was the case with a man I met aboard an Iceberg Quest boat tour in Twillingate. It wasn`t until I tuned into a documentary on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic that I realized the magnitude of the person I had met.
Part of the Petermann Ice Island had made its’ way to Twillingate last summer, a tiny village on the northeast coast of Newfoundland which is fittingly called the Iceberg Capital of the World. This enormous chunk of ice was said to be comparable to the size of Manhattan. And of course, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to see one of the largest icebergs on record pass by my doorstep without having a gawk at it.
As I eagerly jumped aboard our tour boat, I got to chatting with the captain who informed me a French film crew would also be joining us. Their mission was to gather footage for a documentary they were shooting regarding the Titanic. With my concentration focused on what lay ahead, I paid no real heed to this information and eagerly joined the other excited passengers who had taken seats along the top deck.
We got our first glimpse of the ice island as we motored past the ragged cliffs that shelter Twillingate harbour. This bright, white ice sheet filled the horizon and cast what seemed like a fog of cold air as the wind blew across its large mast. Everyone clung to the sides of the vessel amidst the day`s drizzle to take photos and admire what could only be described as breathtaking.
After taking in all angles of the large berg (the captain circled it several times for the film crew), the weather changed and our attention turned to finding shelter. Once we all moved inside the boat`s cabin to warm our chilled bodies, it was then we realized who`s presence we were sharing this monumental event.
Paul-Henry Nargeolet told us he`s dove to the wreck of the Titanic 30 times! As a retired commander of the French Navy, he`s now considered a Titanic expert and lead a recovery mission of 5,000 artifacts from the wreak, including a 20 ton section of the Titanic`s hull.
Willing to talk of his expeditions, Nargeolet spoke of what he was doing in Twillingate, and answered questions from the group of onlookers. What did I ask? Whether his 30th dive held the same sense of adventure as his first, to which he responded yes it did.
It just goes to show we don’t always know with whom we’re meeting, or to what great event we may have some connection, even if it is only the tip of the iceberg.