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Nova Scotia man plans solo rowing voyage


The Canadian Press

Monday, July 1, 2013, 2:42 PM -

Despite the light rain, everything was hunky-dory at the Halifax harbourfront on Saturday where Peter L'Esperance was celebrating the completion of his hand-built boat and the pending start of an ocean-rowing journey.

For the past six-months, the 24-year-old native of Prospect Bay, N.S., has been building a 17-foot-long dory in the boat shop of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

L'Esperance christened his newly finished vessel and launched it into the harbour Saturday.

In little over a month, L'Esperance will row the dory along the stretch of coastline from Halifax to the LaHave Islands, just south of Lunenburg.

His hope is to raise funds and awareness for the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, a non-profit organization committed to promoting environmental preservation and stewardship.

The solo trip, including the return segment to Halifax, will total over 275 kilometres and will begin August 1.

L'Esperance described the undertaking as combining his interest in building boats, spending time outdoors and promoting coastal conservation.

"That's really what's driving the project — my own personal interest and my desire to do something to address some of the environmental problems we're facing in an era of climate change," he said.

With a university background in environmental economics, the recent graduate of Halifax's University of King's College said the project, dubbed "Row the South Shore", is allowing him to apply his education in a real-world setting.

"I'm doing this to promote conservation in Nova Scotia and also to get people thinking about the environment a bit more." Though his rowing experience is limited, his background building boats is not.

L'Esperance spent time working at a boat-building yard in Gold River, N.S.

"It's fairly straightforward, really, boat building," he said.

"You have to take things slow and think things through, try to anticipate and avoid mistakes.

"You need to be patient when you're working with the wood, but really it's about committing yourself to the project and seeing it through." He estimates he spent more than 900 hours building the dory.

He named it Gioventù, which means "youth" in Italian, which was inspired by L'Esperance's family heritage.

"Seeing the construction through from start to finish, that's a success," said L'Esperance.

"Actually making it to the LaHave islands and back without too much trouble, that would be a success.

And if I do happen to raise some money to facilitate conservation and get people thinking about it, then I'll consider that a success." After completing his trip, L'Esperance intends to sell the dory and donate the funds to the Nature Trust.

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