By Patrick Cassidy
Nov 13, 2009
SOUTH YARMOUTH â€" When Cape Cod native John Kendrick left Boston Sept. 30, 1787, on the first American-based voyage around the world, his crew must have felt some trepidation. They were headed into still largely uncharted waters on a mission filled with unknown dangers.
But at least it was not Friday the 13th and the Columbia was not traveling into a known dengue fever outbreak, as is the case with the small Cape Cod film crew following in Kendrick's footsteps today.
The brainchild of 43-year-old Chatham author Andrew Buckley, "Hit and Run History" is a 13-part documentary that purposefully blurs the lines between the past and present.
Think the "flinty nephew" of Anthony Bourdain from the travel show "No Reservations" and the fishing crew from the "Deadliest Catch" with film cameras in hand, searching for history, Buckley said Tuesday during a pre-trip meeting at the Cape Cod Community Media Center on White's Path.
The crew comprises a film student, freelance videographers, an Emmy winner and Buckley, a shellfisherman and self-proclaimed "gumshoe historian."
"The whole concept of this is that our crew is our cast," Buckley said. Buckley and four other crew members board a plane tonight headed for the island nation of Cape Verde, off the west coast of Africa.
Cape Verde, the ancestral home of thousands of Cape Cod residents, was Kendrick's first stop on his three-year journey. The former privateer captained the Columbia, which gave its name to the Columbia River in Washington state.
The first 45-minute production of "Hit and Run History" chronicles Kendrick's life and other events that led up to the 1787 departure. It was completed earlier this year and has been screened across Southeastern Massachusetts as well as on local cable Channel 17.
Today, five members of the crew are scheduled to leave on a plane from Boston to Cape Verde to complete the bulk of filming on the next part of the journey, Buckley said.
The crew plans to document Kendrick's time in the country's capital city of Praia and action that took place on the nearby island of Maio, he said.
Perhaps appropriate for their Friday the 13th takeoff, the small country of nine inhabited islands off the coast of Senegal is in the throes of an outbreak of dengue fever, an infection common in the tropics but never before seen on Cape Verde.
Almost 14,000 people on the islands are now infected by the mosquito-borne disease and a half-dozen have died, according to A Semana newspaper. The cases of infection appear to be dropping, however, and none of the reported deaths occurred this week, according to the newspaper.
Still, for the Cape film crew, the dengue outbreak has changed their plans. A ticket meant for the group's Portuguese-speaking translator was donated to Luisa Schaeffer, an outreach worker at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, who is returning to her native country to help with the crisis.
The group is also packing plenty of bug spray and medicine to use and will fly to the island of Fogo on Monday to document the ongoing epidemic, Buckley said.
"For the show it certainly is going to make things much more interesting and rich," he said.
At the crew meeting the prospect of dengue or other possible maladies elicited mostly laughter.
When it was suggested that taking vitamin B complex could help drive mosquitoes away because of the scent excreted through a person's pores, Jul3ia Astatkie, 23, of Marstons Mills suggested some high-flavor, pore-exuding food might also be good to have along.
"We're fearless individuals," Astatkie said. "If we are going to die, what cooler place?"
After a moment of thought Astatkie, who works at the media center and won an Emmy in May for a video she produced and starred in, decided it would be better to live at least long enough to get some good footage.
The inclusion of the experiences of the crew has been pivotal to the project's appeal with audiences, Buckley said.
The technique "doesn't just lift the curtain a little bit," he said. "It tears it away."
Cape film crew retraces global journey (Ilha do Maio)
By Patrick Cassidy