A famous chicken sailed through Hardy Bay, beginning her journey to the South Pole.
The chicken is named Monique and her travel companion is 25-year-old Guirec Soudée.
The pair has been sailing the world together for three years and stopped in Port Hardy on July 13 before setting off on a new adventure.
Soudée is the youngest person to have sailed the Northwest Passage, completing the trip with Monique last fall.
“When you’ve got a dream, it’s better to realize it when you’re young because you’re free,” he said.
The boat was damaged from the journey, so for the last six months he has been keeping it in Campbell River for repairs.
Now Monique, Soudée, his girlfriend Lauren Bommenel, and their dog Bosco are touring the West Coast before he and Monique set off on a trip to the South Pole.
“It’s hard to leave the island, it’s so beautiful,” said Soudée, “But Port Hardy is too big, I want to be lost in the middle of nowhere.”
Soudée grew up on a small island in Brittany, France and has dreamt of sailing the world ever since he was little.
He was familiar with the ocean and had worked on a fishing boat in Australia, but had no other experience sailing.
Soudée decided to follow his dream anyway, and he wanted to take a chicken with him for company and the promise of fresh eggs.
But farmers in France told him it wasn’t a good idea because the stress of the boat would prevent the chicken from laying any eggs, so Soudée ended up leaving on his journey alone.
When he stopped in the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the northwestern coast of Africa, everything changed. “I met Monique and we fell in love,” he said.
Monique laid 25 eggs during their 28-day journey across the Atlantic. “She knows how to swim, to windsurf, to do many things,” said Soudée.
Monique and Soudée’s unique story has been well documented. It has been told on BBC, CBC, CNN, and countless other media outlets.
“Monique, she’s famous, not me,” laughed Soudée. “But it’s good to push people who have a project or a dream to do it,” he continued, “because we receive messages every day from people saying they had a dream but we’re too scared, but when they see what we did – they do it.”
A French company is also working on producing a documentary which chronicles the 130 days Monique and Soudée spent stuck in the ice on the east coast of Greenland.
They were 20 km from Saqqaq, the nearest village, and endured temperatures lower than -30 C degrees.
The day before Soudée became stuck in the ice, he learned his father, who lived in France, had passed away.
“It was just the beginning, so it was very hard for me,” said Soudée.
“The weather was so bad for us it was just impossible.”
When the ice finally melted Soudée was able to free his boat.
He has missed his father’s funeral and lost over 25 lbs.
One month later, Soudée returned to France and was immediately hospitalized with appendicitis.
“I’m very lucky not to have that happen when I was stuck,” he said.
Two weeks later, he flew back to Greenland and set off for the Northwest passage.
That journey was also not without troubles.
When they arrived in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Soudée was arrested by customs and detained for six hours because he did not declare Monique or the rifle he used to scare away polar bears.
Once customs checked up on his story, he was freed.
Now when planning his trip to the South Pole, Soudée has to be careful where he brings Monique.
“All the plans changed maybe a month ago,” said Soudée, explaining that when French Polynesian officials heard he was planning on bringing Monique, they made it clear she wasn’t welcome.
“I’ll have one-month reflection and then I’ll see where the winds push the boat,” he laughed, adding that he’d like to complete the journey by September 2018.
“I’ve got people waiting for me.”
“When he says people he means his family,” laughed Bommenel.
Soudée hopes, most of all, young people will see his journey and be inspired to pursue dreams of their own.
“I want to push people to not be scared and to do it,” he said. “One life is not enough.”
To follow Soudée’s trip find him on Facebook at Guirec Soudée Adventure or on his website at http://voyagedyvinec.com/.