U.S. female rower readies for solo Pacific Ocean odyssey

Mon May 11, 2015 9:36am EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Sonya Baumstein lay in bed one sleepless night and wept softly as she pondered her upcoming attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean alone in a rowboat.

"I was just thinking about the fact that I'm going to be leaving everything that I love for a really long time," Baumstein said of her planned 6,000-mile (9,600 km) odyssey. "And I don't know the consequences."

The 30-year-old from Port Townsend, Washington, has undertaken endurance feats in the past but her journey from Japan to San Francisco, expected to start around May 18, is her most daunting adventure yet.

The four- to six-month trip is an endeavor no woman has ever accomplished solo.

Despite 16 attempts to row solo across the Pacific, only two men have successfully completed the journey - Frenchmen Gerard d'Aboville in 1991 and Emmanuel Coindre in 2005, according to Ocean Rowing Society records.

"Once she leaves Japan, the next person she'll see will be in San Francisco," said Andrew Cull, the journey's operation manager. "Unless maybe someone in a fishing vessel stops by to say 'Hi' in the middle of the ocean."

Baumstein will take off on her custom-made 23-foot (7 meters), 775-pound (350 kg) boat with 1,200 pounds (544 kg) of freeze-dried food, 180 high-carbohydrate drink supplements and a cache of olive oil that she will consume in hopes of retaining as much weight as possible.

The carbon and kevlar boat weighs in at a light 660 pounds (300 kg) and will have on board an electric water maker that desalinates seawater for drinking.   Continued...

Sonya Baumstein sits in her 23-foot (7.01 meter) carbon and kevlar solo rowboat in this handout picture courtesy of Andrew Cull in Port Townsend, Washington April 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Andrew Cull/Handout via Reuters