Pacific solo rower rescued after one week


Sonya Baumstein on her rowboat, the Icha.

Sonya Baumstein's three-years-in-the-making goal to row across the Pacific Ocean, began and ended within one week. She arrived in Choshi, Japan, in April, her boat arrived in May, and she had been waiting for the weather conditions to be optimal.

On Sunday, June 7, Baumstein made sure her supplies were intact, called her parents, Darrel and Debbie Baumstein of Orlando, and rowed out of the Choshi marina in glassy smooth waters. She hoped to arrive in San Francisco by September.

She made it into the Kuroshio current, which was part of her planned route that would take her through the first part of her journey. However, a combination of steering system failure and bad weather caused Baumstein to call for rescue on June 14, just 150 miles off the Japanese coast. A nearby freighter took her onboard, where she waited for the Japanese Coast Guard to pick her up a few hours later. They also towed her boat to shore.

A statement released by Baumstein's expedition support team said "The past eight days have been interesting and we knew we were taking a chance with the weather and late season, concerned more about the weather upon arrival in California in the fall. Sonya and some team members felt that things weren't going right. While we couldn't put our finger on it, something felt wrong. Our expedition experience has taught us that when that feeling doesn't go away, you pay attention."

Everyone was rooting for her, and she had received a lot of coverage about her adventure. Sports Illustrated picked up her story, as well as the Associated Press. On Friday morning, June 12, ABC news Good Morning America (GMA) interviewed her via satellite.

In the interview with GMA she said her first three days were "hellish" as she was hit by a 30-knot storm and saw a fishing vessel coming toward her. But it wasn't all "hellish," as she told GMA "... it's navigating the unknown and there is something really incredible about that."

It doesn't look like this first attempt will be Baumstein's last. She wrote on her Facebook page "I'm thankful my mountain, the Pacific, will still exist for many possibility-filled years to come... Keep pushing the limits, but always remain cognizant and be willing to take a step back." 


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