30-year-old Sonya Baumstein had a lofty goal: to sail across the Pacific ocean in a rowboat.
If she accomplished this, she would become the first woman to navigate the ocean solo. About one week ago, she departed from Choshi, Japan, en route to San Francisco.
Unfortunately, her mission seemed doomed from the start.
Baumstein was traveling without a support boat. She had lost one of her two drogues, devices used as floating anchors and to keep the boat facing into waves. The steering system on her 23-foot-long custom-made carbon boat had failed, and weather and wave forecasts were ominous.
Weather conditions also were making it difficult to spot many ships that her automated identification signal, or AIS, indicated were passing near her small boat.
Exiting coast guard protected waters, Baumstein and her team had to make a difficult choice.
“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,”
Baumstein has posted the following message to fans on her blog:
Hi everyone, Sonya here…first I want to say thank you to all of the Japanese officials and individuals who’ve helped me over the last three months, the freight vessel Naraweik, my incredible sponsors and all of you for your patience and absolute support of my decision to abort this year’s attempt. More to come soon, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t just one thing, it was many things. There was no EPIRB involved and I am very thankful to have had two vessels within mere miles of me at the time my team and I made the call so that very few resources were spent. ICHA is safe, I am safe and responders are all safe. Sometimes you are scaling the mountain and things just aren’t in line to reach the top and also safely climb back down. I’m thankful my mountain, the Pacific, will still exist for many possibility-filled years to come. Please watch my website in the coming days as I blog about the experience so you can have a full understanding of my decisionmaking process. Keep pushing the limits, but always remain cognizant and be willing to take a step back. I’m happy to grow into an old prudent explorer rather than be stopped prematurely by being an impatient young adventurer. For you’re viewing pleasure, this is one picture of my GPS during the expedition, my boat being the big black circle and the Choshi coast littered with vessels and the course lines of the tankers all around me. #expeditionpacific #livewithoutlimits
Baumstein has not yet decided whether she will make another attempt.