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Australian woman Michelle Lee becomes first to cross Atlantic Ocean solo in a rowboat

Photo Credit: Michelle Lee/Facebook

Australian woman Michelle Lee becomes first to cross Atlantic Ocean solo in a rowboat

Australian woman Michelle Lee becomes first to cross Atlantic Ocean solo in a rowboat

Five years after reading a book about a rowing adventure, Sydney’s Michelle Lee has surfed down waves alongside whales, lost the equivalent of two plane carry on bags in weight and become the first Australian woman to row across an ocean.

Michelle Lee wanted to prove her independence when she set out to become the first Australian woman to cross an ocean solo in a rowboat.

But on landing in the Caribbean after 68 days alone in the Atlantic Ocean, the 46-year-old decided she doesn’t want to be alone again.

After almost 10 weeks of isolation, calloused hands and freeze-dried meals, Lee told her best friend: “Don’t ever let me do that without you again!”

The loneliness was a huge mental challenge for Lee, who said there were times she felt “complete and utter” distress whilst completing the 5,000-kilometre journey.

Photo Credit: Robin Skjoldborg Photographer/@robinskjoldborg/Instagram

After only taking up the sport two years ago, she rowed for a minimum of 10 hours a day and slept in a small cabin at the back of the boat at night.

She carried all necessary provisions with her and had support from her designated onshore contact, Tony Roberts.

Roberts, who has more than 50 years of sailing experience, communicated with Lee via satellite phone and coached her throughout the trip.

It took two years for the Kellyville woman to prepare for the journey, learning how to build a boat and training her body’s stamina and endurance.

Lee, who lost 14kg during the trip, was greeted at English Harbour by her best friend, Claudine O’Keefe, who flew from Sydney to celebrate with her. As they embraced, Lee said: “Don’t ever let me do this again without you.”

It is the second record for Lee, who in 2017 became the fastest woman to row 1 million metres.

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