What's Your Story

How 13 days aboard a tall ship helped me live in the moment

For 13 days, Daphné Robichaud was a trainee sailor and reporter aboard a tall ship as a part of Radio-Canada's contest. Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" Robichaud of Bathurst, N.B., shares hers.

'Feeling alive and connected with nature.'

(Daphné Robichaud)

For 13 days, Daphné Robichaud was a trainee sailor and reporter aboard a tall ship as a part of Radio-Canada's contest. Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" Robichaud of Bathurst, N.B., shares hers. 


After discovering multiple continents and numerous countries, it was long overdue and very refreshing to go on an adventure in my own country. 

Thirteen days on a tall ship as a reporter and a trainee sailor — that's what Radio-Canada's contest offered 17 young reporters from across Canada. Thirteen sunrises. Thirteen sunsets. Sign me up!

My trip started in Sept-Îles, Que. and we had a stopover in Baie-Comeau, Que., two communities I had never visited before. The route would go through beautiful Eastern Canada on the Saint Lawrence River. The people were as welcoming and excited to see us and the tall ships as we were to see them. 

'Out of my comfort zone.'

We were so close to where I grew up, yet it seemed like a world away. I would consider myself more of a mountain girl than a sea one. I love to be grounded, feeling my legs work to reach new peaks, to see new sights. Even though I am a proud Acadian, I had never spent more than a few hours on any type of boat. This was definitely going to take me far out of my comfort zone. I had no idea how this trip would unfold but I was ready for a new challenge.

It was long overdue and very refreshing to go on an adventure in my own country.- Daphné Robichaud

What I discovered on the tall ship called Picton Castle was more than I ever imagined.  

The sea life is a life like no other. Our medical officer said it so brilliantly when I interviewed her: "I don't think you can sell this lifestyle to anyone, you're either made for the sea life or you're not".

There was nothing I didn't love about the sea life: the community — sleeping, eating, cleaning and working together, the scenery —  learning how to keep the barque safe and handle the sails and the stop overs in various ports — meeting the locals. I loved every second of it. I especially loved being outside all the time, feeling the sun and the wind on my skin, feeling alive and connected with nature.

'Everything is different on the ship.'

Yes, it was a lot of work. Calluses started forming on my hand and my joints were hurting from the labour. I was dirty all the time — mostly due to our defective engine. I was often lost in the instructions of the experienced sailors. I felt in the way 80 per cent of the time.

I had to relearn every small task that I thought I could carry out in real life — making a knot, cleaning the dishes, taking a shower, even flushing the toilet. Everything is different on the ship. The work was hard, but I was happy. I forgot about everything else in life. I was truly living in the moment. 

The sea life is a life like no other. - Daphné Robichaud

The final stop was in Quebec City, a place I have visited many times but never from this angle. Never from the sea. I saw Eastern Canada under a new lens. I rediscovered it slowly and quietly. Without being back home, I felt at home at sea.

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