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French Woman Hopes to Row Atlantic

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French woman hopes to show you can row home again



CHATHAM - Anne Quemere is waiting for the rain to stop so she can say goodbye to dry land.

Once the weather turns, she will set out from Stage Harbor with the hopes of staying on the water for three months and 3,000 miles.


Anne Quemere plans to row this custom-made boat from Chatham to Brittany, France. The trans-Atlantic crossing would be the French woman's second if she is successful in making the 3,000-mile trip.

(Staff photo by VINCENT DEWITT)

Quemere, an experienced sailor and avid adventurer, will pilot her 22-foot rowboat across the Atlantic from Cape Cod to Brittany, France, her hometown.

It is the second trans-Atlantic journey for the 38-year-old French woman, who rowed from Spain to the West Indian island of Guadeloupe in 56 days last year. If successful, she will be the first woman to row the North Atlantic in both directions.

"I do it for the adventure," Quemere said. "The first crossing was a test for me and I really want to experience again the emotions I felt during my first voyage. If I set a record, fine, but records aren't that important to me."

Chatham is a popular launching site for trans-Atlantic rowers, with a dozen attempting the treacherous crossing since the 1960s - four succeeded and one died. Neland Belic, a Chicago cardiologist, was lost at sea about 230 miles from Ireland in 2000.

This week also could see ocean rower Jean Lukes launch from Chatham. Lukes has made three unsuccessful attempts to cross the Atlantic from Cape Cod.

Return to the sea

Just days after completing her first east-to-west trans-Atlantic voyage, Quemere set about preparing for her west-to-east attempt.

Over the past year, she's spent three hours each day exercising, readying her body for her upcoming challenge, and planning her expedition.

She also decided to build a new rowboat for this crossing, one that will be faster and more seaworthy.

Quemere grew up in Brittany, a rugged coastal region in northwest France. She credits her father for her early involvement with both sailing and rowing, and for instilling in her a love of the sea. She looks forward to reuniting with her family and friends in France.

"Rowing to my hometown is a special motivation for me. It makes me that much more determined," Quemere said.

Still, she fully understands the risks she'll face this time around.

"The northern route will be tougher and more dangerous. The Gulf Stream can be unpredictable and storms are usually more severe and longer lasting than they are in warmer waters," Quemere said.

Rough seas ahead

Quemere has good reason to respect the North Atlantic. Just three weeks into her first shore-to-shore crossing, she encountered one particularly strong tropical storm, which kicked up rough seas.

Her knuckles turned white from clenching the oars, concerned her vessel would roll. It didn't, but the storm lasted 48 hours and she remembers "holding on through every minute."

"There's really nothing you can do to avoid an oncoming storm," Quemere said. "I just prayed that the boat was strong enough to see me through."

Given the combined dangers of ocean rowing, including potential storms, dehydration, and exposure, among untold others, it's hard to comprehend why anyone would want to attempt such a challenge once, much less twice.

"Anne has always been determined," explained her father, Ronan, who traveled to the Cape to witness his daughter's departure.

An experienced sailor, the elder Quemere knows what it takes to be a solid mariner and believes his daughter has those traits.

When Quemere asked her father to help her with this challenge, he didn't hesitate. From the start, he has helped with the planning, logistics, and overseeing construction of the new rowboat.

But does he worry about his daughter's upcoming challenge?

"Yes, of course, but Anne is an experienced sailor and we trust this boat more than the last one," Ronan Quemere said. "Anne's already proved she can do this and I believe in her."

Tough way to lose 30 pounds

Quemere predicts this crossing will take her about three months, perhaps longer depending on weather.

And despite packing almost twice as much food as her first crossing, she still expects to lose about 30 pounds over the course of her voyage (she lost 20 pounds during her first crossing). Fully laden with food, water, and all requisite gear, her boat, Le Connetable, will weigh roughly 1,300 pounds.

After leaving Stage Harbor, Quemere will head for the Gulf Stream. She will row in staggered shifts, balancing time at the oars with cooking, eating, and navigating by way of a global positioning system. She'll sleep in hour-long shifts inside a sealed cabin that's just big enough for her to lie down.

"The boat will drift when I rest, so I will try to manage these breaks accordingly," Quemere said.

In addition to her GPS, she will have an array of safety and communication equipment onboard, including an Argos Beacon - which will report her position by satellite and, in an emergency, emit a distress signal - a desalinator to change sea water into fresh water, and an Iridium satellite phone.

Several marine lights have also been installed to announce her position to approaching vessels.

Quemere's only contact during her 2003 voyage was with an Italian supertanker that drew a little too-close-for-comfort. According to Quemere, she quickly grabbed her VHF radio and excitedly reported her position, telling one confused Italian crewman that she was in a small rowboat.

"Do you need to be rescued," he asked.

"No, I'm rowing across the ocean," she replied.

"You're doing what?" he asked in disbelief.

So how will she adjust to being alone at sea again?

"Rowing solo is tough, but you learn to adapt. The body gets used to it. I don't worry about bills or outside stresses. My focus is on reaching Brittany."

Quemere has another motivation, reuniting with her 6-year-old daughter Elyna. Quemere realizes the risk she's undertaking and pauses when asked about the worth of her journey.

"If she (Elyna) asked me to stop, I would. I understand that this is a risk, but life is a risk, too. I feel she would be more proud of her mother for having tried."

Quemere expects this to be her last trans-Atlantic attempt. Afterward, she may do a speaking tour, but has no intentions of writing a book.

"I would write a book if I had something to say, but right now I just feel like I'm a regular person, a person who is determined and who loves to row."

From The Cape Cod Times

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What!!!! Who in their right mind would do that?

You'd be surprised. Cape Cod seems to be a popular starting point and there is at least one attempt every year or so.

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Ok, I'd have to agree with what wolfdawg54 said. Who in their right mind would do that?! It is insane, like those people who jump into Houghton Lake for a swim in mid January when it's -10 degrees outside.

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Thats the French for ya :)

Seriously though, that is absoulely insane. Infact, insane might be a modest improvement. Dang.

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Rowers make progress in crossing tries


CHATHAM - Two French rowers are making slow, but steady progress in separate attempts to row across the Atlantic Ocean, from Chatham to France.

Jean Luke, 39, who left June 26, has rowed about 156 miles east toward Quessant Island off the French coast. Luke, making his fourth attempt at a solo crossing, has nearly 3,000-miles to go.

Anne Quemere, 38, who departed from Chatham June 3, has so far rowed 1,073 miles. Since she has decided upon a more northerly route, she has longer to travel and still has 2,385 miles left to the same destination as Luke. She previously rowed solo across the Atlantic from Spain to the West Indies island of Guadaloupe.

In 1980, Frenchman Gerard D'Aboville made a solo crossing from Chatham to France in 72 days, a record which still stands.

For up-to-date information on their progress, go to oceanrowing.com on the Internet, and then click on the link for the Ocean Rowing Society.

From The Cape Cod Times

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Ill rower rescued by helicopter off Nova Scotia

By Susan Milton

HYANNIS - Jean Lukes this week gave up his dream of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.

And two more solo ocean rowers are leaving Chatham to join rower Anne Quemere in separate attempts at a Transatlantic row.

After just three weeks at sea, the Frenchman telephoned Sunday for a sea rescue due to his state of "extreme exhaustion," the Canadian Coast Guard told the Ocean Rowing Society. Lukes left Chatham June 26 in his fourth attempt to reach Brest in Brittany, France, in less than 72 days.

Lukes, 39, was airlifted by helicopter from his rowing boat then about 240 kilometers south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was brought to Halifax and then taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was weak, but otherwise healthy, according to the MX daily newspaper in Melbourne, Australia.

His 25-foot rowing boat, the Sojasun, was recovered later Sunday and brought back to Halifax by the crew on the Coast Guard vessel Sir William Alexander, according tot he Society's Web site.

The record for crossing is 72 days, set in 1980 by Gerard D'Abouville who also left from Chatham. But now rowers are just hoping to escape bad weather and complete the journey.

Still at sea after 42 days is Quemere who had rowed 1,475 miles in 40 days, according to yesterday's posting, the latest on her Web site. She is 1,015 from Chatham, with 2,201 miles to go to her destination in Brittany, France. Yesterday her rowboat lost 21 miles in continuing unfavorable and unusual meteorological conditions, her Web site reports.

Instead of the usual westerly winds, favorable for rowing, weather depressions to her south have created easterly winds which have blown her backward. If she drops a floating anchor to limit her loss, the currents may pull her back anyway. Lukes was caught in similar unexpected conditions, her friends reported on-line, raising the possibility she may also abort her trip.

"Only a well-located depression can get her out of the present situation," the friends warned on-line.

Leaving Chatham quietly last Friday was veteran Emmanuel Coindre of France, who had rowed 124 miles to his last reported Sunday 116 miles away from Chatham. Couindre rowed out of stage harbor to try to become the first person to row an ocean four times, twice in both directions.

And, getting ready to go is Andreas Rommel of Germany. He plans to leave Chatham tomorrow on his row to the United Kingdom. He want to become the first German in history to row an Ocean.

Due to the record number of ocean rows either started or planned this year, the Ocean Rowing Society issued a statement last Friday about the danger involved and, precautions that rowers should take for rescues. Lukes has been rescued four times so far in his years of trying. He had an Argos beacon but no EPIRB or emergency signal.

Coindre was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard last year and has no Argos Beacon to track his journey but does have an EPIRB to send a signal of his position.

"To take less emergency equipment than last year must be considered a retrograde step, the society's Kenneth F. Crutchlow wrote, wishing that "all rows heading for Europe have a safe arrival.

From The Cape Cod Times

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Ocean rowers are getting near French coast

HYANNIS - So near, and yet so far.

Anne Quemere is only 679 miles from the French coast, her destination after 76 days on her solitary row across the Atlantic Ocean. The French rower left Chatham June 3 for Ouessant Island in Brittany France, 3,113 miles away.

She may arrive in two weeks or so, based on her daily distances of 45 to 60 miles a day, as reported on oceanrowing .com.

The suspense is not just when she may arrive but also if she'll be overtaken by Emmanuel Coindre, just 214 miles behind her and getting closer daily, according to the same Web site that tracks their positions and posts their journals.

Coindre left Chatham July 9 on his quest. By yesterday he had 888 miles to go, and he's rowing an average of 60 to 70 miles a day, which means he could arrive as soon as 15 days from now.

At that pace, he would complete his row in 55 days, beating the 72 day record set in 1980 by Gerard d'Aborville, who also left from Chatham. Also, Coindre would be the first person to row and ocean four times, twice in both directions. Quemere is seeking to be the first woman and the third person to row the Atlantic in both directions.

The weather's been less than ideal, Quemere wrote Monday, describing the adverse waves and winds recently as she approaches her goal.

"The more I approach, the more I am impatient to know the arrival," she said in the machine-translated journal.

Coindre also wrote that he was "especially irritated by this weather."

Meanwhile, Andreas Rommel is having a tough time in the German's first row, from Chatham to Lands End, in the United Kingdom. In his 32nd day at sea, he was still only 748 miles from Chatham.

He posted an amazing description of his first ever row in a boat, which happens to be across an ocean but "there is a first for everything, isn't there?" he said, also contributing a vivid description of rowing through fog, nearly getting crushed by a tanker and getting capsized in 35 to 40 foot waves as the remnants of Hurricane Alex passed.

From The Cape Cod Times

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