Go Margo Go, From Miami to Maine

Margo Pellegrino looked unsure about swigging from a champagne bottle proffered to her Monday morning, but she didn’t stop to think about it.

Sure, booze probably isn’t the best thing if you’re planning to paddle your outrigger canoe 25 miles or so up the Intracoastal Waterway. But, what the hell. It was the launch of a three-month odyssey taking Pellegrino from the Miami Beach Rowing Club on Indian Creek to Camden Maine.

And, if Pellegrino had stopped to think too much, she might have wondered what she was getting herself into. The 39-year-old mother of two from Medford Lakes, New Jersey, chose Miami as the starting point for a 2000-mile paddle to raise awareness of water issues such as dwindling fish populations, coastal development, harbor dredging, deforestation, and water pollution. She will speak to community groups at 74 different points along the way.

Wearing shorts, Tevas, a dry suit top, and a sun visor emblazoned with a paddle-holding crab, Pellegrino was rearing to go, making final checks on her high tech craft as TV and radio news guys pointed microphones at her and asked pointed questions, such as “How did you come up with this idea?” and “How many miles is it?” Pellegrino’s decidedly less athletic-looking husband corralled the couple’s two children, 5-year-old Billie and 2-year-old Julia.

She will paddle as many as 40 miles per day every day for about three months. Before launching Monday, she was stoic about the prospect. “You know how I look at it? That’s one trimester of pregnancy, and that goes by really fast.”

While Pellegrino is receiving support from the Surfrider Foundation, the National Environmental Trust, the Blue Frontier Campaign, and Oceana, she’s also looking for donations.

Another thing she’s been looking for is her compass. “We’re still trying to find that,” she said with a sheepish grin. “It got misplaced.” --Rob Jordan

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