Woman sets her oars towards France in solo journey that starts from Halifax
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Mylène Paquette is headed to Lorient, France - but it’s going to take her three months to get there.
The Montreal native will soon embark from Halifax on a 5,000 kilometre rowing trip, solo, across the North Atlantic.
If she makes it to France, Paquette will be the first North American to have completed the 100-day odyssey.
“I’m not going for a record, so I’m going to take my time, I’m going to be safe and I’m not going to push myself to the limit,” Paquette said Monday afternoon beside her large yellow ocean rowboat at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.
Paquette is relatively new to ocean rowing, having started in 2008 after learning about the sport and working as a personal care attendant with a young girl at CHU Sainte-Justine who suffered from leukemia.
“She said ‘I didn’t know what it was to pursue something, to want something very hard.’ So after this moment I decided to go further, and to jump into my dream,” said Paquette.
Although Paquette said her father wouldn’t talk to her ‘“for weeks” when she explained her new passion, he came around after she completed shorter trips to the Magdalene Islands, and one from Morocco to Barbados.
She said Halifax was the best place to start her journey because it’s close to the Gulf Stream, and it was important for her to begin in Canada.
Now she’s waiting for a north-westerly wind to push her into the stream, which is the most dangerous leg of the journey because of strong eddies and currents.
She will be eating a lot of dried nuts, fruit, and dehydrated food she will cook herself, and sleep in one hour shifts about six times a day when everything is calm.
Jacques Simard helped her create a safety plan and is a member of the ground team including doctors, boat technicians and a rowing coach who can reach her by satellite phone if she runs into trouble.
If Paquette doesn’t run into rogue storms and follows her plan, Simard said “of course” she’ll make it.
“We’re happy for her, we’re nervous for her,” he said.
You can chart Paquette’s journey through her website, mylenepaquette.com. She will post updates on social media, take photos, make voice recordings and blog her experiences, which are found through her website.