Baumstein ready to row Pacific

 

Baumstein's carbon boat and supplies in port at Choshi, Japan, after going through customs.

It's been one year, almost to the day, since the Heritage interviewed Sonya Baumstein, the young adventurer (she is now 30) set to be the first woman to row solo across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to San Francisco. She originally planned to take on this challenge earlier in the year, but she had several set backs.

She posted an apology to her supporters and investors on her blog about two months ago, "I want to start with an apology to all of those who have some investment in me, the project, the ocean and/or the life cycle of expeditions. It's been an extremely difficult emotional road to get to the point I can happily say I'm at now... I've got my one-way flight to Japan booked."

Baumstein moved to Port Townsend, Washington, to continue training for the row and now is in Choshi, Japan, set to depart on her long awaited adventure in a 23-foot long, 770-pound carbon boat that arrived in Japan on May 11 or 12. She spent about 20 hours getting her boat and all her equipment through customs. And now she is playing a waiting game.


The exact date of her departure is up to the weather. She has a four-week window of opportunity for good winds and currents that will take her across 6,000 miles of ocean.

A recent post (May 12) on her facebook page read: "It's getting closer, 20+ knot winds today have prevented us from launching the boat (she's too light for the travel lift in this weather), but it's all time well spent..."

Baumstein estimates the journey will take four to six months to complete, and has packed 1200 pounds of freeze-dried food, 180 high-carb drink supplements and olive oil. At 5'3", she will be burning approximately 10,000 calories rowing up to 16 hours a day, which means she will consume about 5,000 calories daily.

This Earth child is passionate about the health of the oceans and climate change, and even though rowing solo across the Pacific is a goal of hers, Baumstein will have about 50 pounds of scientific equipment on board that will monitor water temperature, salinity, barometric pressure and wind to help study the environment and climate changes.

"We're going to be a moving science float in which I'll be collecting oceanographic data," she told the Heritage last year.

Even though she will be the only person on the rowboat, Baumstein has a team who will be monitoring and tracking her from land through GPS and two-way text messaging through inReach satellite communicator. She also has on board an emergency beacon.


There have been a total of 16 attempts to row from Japan to the continental U.S., but only two men have been successful: Frenchmen Gerard d'Aboville in 1991 and Emmanuel Coindre in 2005. Only one other woman has attempted this challenge. Sarah Outen set sail in 2013, but after 149 days she ended her row because she was blown way off course.

How does Baumstein keep her confidence up for this challenge? "I think a lot of people's barriers are thinking too far ahead. You have to set a goal and just believe you can get there," she told Heritage last year.

So far, she has stayed her course.

Sonya Baumstein

 

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