Canadian rower becomes first North American woman to cross Atlantic alone

MONTREAL – A Canadian rower says she has become the first North American woman to complete a solo journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

Montrealer Mylene Paquette announced on her website Tuesday that she reached Ile d’Ouessant in France after a four-month voyage from Halifax.

She rowed some 5,000 kilometres on a 129-day crossing that began July 6.

Paquette, 35, is planning to reach mainland France later Tuesday in Lorient, where she will be greeted by family.

“It feels like a dream,” she told Montreal radio station FM 98.5 in an interview after passing the French island Tuesday at 11:09 a.m. local time.

“It’s like I just finished watching a movie.”

During the journey, Paquette reported that her 7.3-metre boat capsized twice during a storm that generated eight-metre waves.

She said her rowboat righted itself both times and she suffered minor rib injuries.

Paquette told the radio station Tuesday that completing the voyage will relieve her of physical and psychological stresses, including the nagging feeling she was never completely safe at sea.

The primary objectives of her mission were to raise awareness about the protection of the environment and the importance of ocean ecosystems.

This is the second time Paquette has rowed across the Atlantic — the first journey was in 2010 as part of a six-person crew that travelled from Barbados to Morocco.

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