June 17, 2013 12:14 pm

From Halifax to France: woman set to row solo, without a support boat across Atlantic Ocean

Paquette poses with her boat, as she prepares to leave Halifax.

Julia Wong/Global News

HALIFAX – An ocean rower will soon set out from Halifax in hopes of becoming the first North American woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean without a support boat.

Mylene Paquette of Montreal is making the final preparations for her journey across the Atlantic to Lorient, France.

Paquette started rowing in 2008 when she was 30 years old. She says that she always knew she wanted to row across the Atlantic but was spurred to action after meeting a child in the hospital where she worked who inspired her to pursue her adventure.

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“I decided to go for my dream…to come true,” she said.

But rowing across the ocean is no easy task. Monstrous waves and bad weather are real possibilities, and without a support boat to provide assistance, Paquette acknowledges that there are dangers.

“I’m scared of different things. I’m scared to get hurt, to get sick, to get sea sickness,” she said.

“I’m going to be alone on the boat. I’m a little scared to be unable to do things by myself. When you’re going down some big waves, it can be dangerous.”

However she is looking at the bigger picture.

“I know I’m going to be scared of the ocean. [But] it’s important to see that what’s carrying me is an advertisement for something difficult.”

Paquette has been training to make her solo trek as smooth as possible; she already has a nine day solo trek underneath her belt. Paquette plans to row between 9 and 12 hours each day.

While on the water, she will write a blog and send Twitter and Facebook updates about her journey.

She will also be doing scientific research and wants others to become accountable for their actions against the environment.

“By sharing the ocean, I will try to create a sense of belonging for people. People don’t know the ocean so if I’m sharing how I love the ocean and how I like to be there maybe people will be more up to protect the ocean.”

Paquette will be supported by a team on land consisting of a weather forecaster, doctor and communication team. Her boat is equipped with a GPS, radio, wind generator and navigation system. She also has an emergency beacon for the boat and a personal emergency beacon. If an accident were to occur, the beacons will send signals to the Coast Guard and nearby ships will be alerted to her location.

The cabin, though tight, is spacious enough to give Paquette a fair amount of sleeping room and is insulated to keep out the cold. Buckles will secure Paquette to her sleeping bag to prevent her from being tossed around the cabin. Her bathroom also doubles as a space to cook. It may be tight but as Paquette looks around at the cabin, she smiles.

“This is it. This is my nice place for the summer.”

The cost of the trip, which Paquette expects to take 100 days, is approximately $125,000; sponsors and community donations helped make it possible.

Paquette plans to leave later in the week. She says that weather conditions in Halifax need to improve to give her opening to push away from the coast, into the ocean and towards France.

The rower will be blogging her journey: www.mylenepaquette.com

Paquette will be posting regularly on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DefisMylenePaquette

You can also follow Paquette’s tweets below:

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