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Solo rower meets Queen Mary 2 captain behind Mid-Atlantic mercy mission

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A good news story is always a great way to end the year. Most people like a happy ending, especially when it could have turned out so drastically wrong.

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This month, the man behind the Queen Mary 2’s mid-Atlantic mercy mission got to meet the woman he helped. Sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate the ending year.

“An amazing year has been capped in terrific style for me,” said Mylène Paquette, the Canadian solo woman rower who issued an SOS call for assistance and supplies.

On Sept. 23, Paquette had lost her anchor and a satellite phone among other items when Atlantic storm Huberto hit. Paquette had set out from Halifax, Canada, on July 6 with the goal of rowing to Lorient, France.

After 83 days into her adventure, Paquette still had two months to go in her quest to become the first North American woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

Hearing her call for help, Queen Mary 2 Captain Kevin Oprey came to her aid. The Cunard Line ship donated a new satellite phone and two drogue anchors as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, pastries, muesli, crackers, chocolate, plus bottled water and coffee, English tea, mint tea and hot chocolate sachets.

The important supplies were dropped overboard the Queen Mary 2 in watertight canisters so Paquette could retrieve them.

Paquette went on to achieve her dream and rowed solo from Canada to France - after 10 capsizes, four broken oars (out of eight) and a total of 130 days at sea.

But it was not possible for the Queen Mary 2 to squeeze in the blanket that Paquette had also requested during her time of trouble.

Oprey quickly remedied that omission when the two met face to face in December.

“We were happy to have given assistance to Mylène and helped her recover from the damage inflicted by the storm,” Oprey said.

“But at Cunard we like to finish the job which is why I was so keen to meet Mylène to congratulate her on her extraordinary feat – and to present her with the blanket.”

Paquette responded that 2013 has been a banner year for her and meeting the captain was a chance to offer her gratitude in person.

“I have been assisted mid-Atlantic by the biggest ocean liner in the world and I have now been on board the ship and met a fellow seafarer to whom I owe a great deal,” she said.

"I’d like to thank Captain Oprey and Cunard for their wonderful assistance while I was rowing the Atlantic. This blanket represents the goodwill and spirit of kinship which helped me achieve my dream.”

For more information: Contact Cunard at (800) 728-6273, or go to



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