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Meet Sonya Baumstein: She’s the Woman Rowing Solo Across the Pacific Ocean

sonya-baumstein

Seeing the Pacific, stroke by stroke. Image by Flickr user Tim Lucas.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

When you imagine the Pacific Ocean, you probably don’t think about rowing in it. And yet, that’s precisely what Sonya Baumstein is setting out to do: a solo expedition to row across the northern Pacific Ocean.

The Orlando, Florida native is attempting to be the first woman to successfully make the crossing between Japan and San Francisco, CA.

The expedition will cover over 5,700 nautical miles from Choshi, Japan to San Francisco rowing on board a 23-foot, custom-built rowboat.

During the expedition, she will row 3 hours on, 3 hours off each day for over 150 days at sea.

The only support she will have during the expedition is via satellite phone to land-based advisers back in the United States.

Otherwise she’ll be on her own; anything that goes wrong is down to her.

Sonya’s crossing of the Pacific is not her first expedition. She was a part of a cross-Atlantic row in 2011 and Stand Up Paddle Boarding the Bering Strait in 2013.

How amazing is this woman?

With the clock ticking down to her launch date in Choshi, I was able to fit in a quick chat with Sonya to learn more about her upcoming expedition.

Sonya-Baumstein
Preparing to row the Pacific Ocean solo. Image courtesy of Sonya Baumstein.

Ready, Set, Go

Lets face it, preparing to row across an entire ocean is not an everyday situation.

How do you go about preparing for such a big challenge?

“Beyond the typical mental strain of long endurance workouts, it’s really the mental prep that’s the toughest,” Sonya confesses. “What people don’t realize with a project of this scope and size is that every day presents new and unique challenges that test your mental prowess and ability see the forest through the trees.”

A Lesson in Sustainability

Not only is Sonya attempting to become the first woman to successfully row solo across the Pacific but she’s championing a sustainability message with the expedition as well by teaming up with Ocean Ambassadors to educate school students about the important role that oceans play.

As a self-proclaimed earth lover, I found her combination of the expedition with sustainability to be a great message.

Sonya explained, “My expeditions have given me a unique perspective, which allows me to engage students and communities around the idea of environmental management. I also have the ability to collect remote data for scientific discovery. Humans have the incredible ability to inspire and aspire; I hope I can actively do both for my entire life.”

Whilst stating that she is most looking forward to watching the changing constellations in the night sky during the expedition, she is most worried about shipping lanes, as she will be passing through quite a few during the row.

The Future of Female Adventurers

Despite many fierce and strong women taking on big challenges in all facets of life, it seems that their successes are still over shadowed by men.

“I do think women have to make our own way in the world of exploration and adventure because, as with anything, it’s historically male-dominated. Of all the great explorers I have children at presentations list, very few have ever mentioned a woman other than Amelia Earhart.” Sonya continues, “We haven’t been as publicized, either, as our male counterparts, and that’s okay — there’s still so much to be explored that I have no doubt females will tip the scales within the century.”

Her advice to other women looking to leave their comfort zones?

“Smile and keep going — your positivity will be the constant that saves you.”

Go Sonya! We wish you all the best for your expedition as an inspiration to women adventurers everywhere.

sonya-baumstein
Image courtesy of Sonya Baumstein.

Have you ever dreamed about undertaking an expedition like Sonya’s? Let us know in the comments below!

Morgan Pettersson
Blogger Morgan Pettersson is an Australian travel and environmental writer, conservationist, author of the book 'Antarctic Youth Ambassador: protecting the last great wilderness on earth' and a gypsy soul. A self proclaimed hammock enthusiast she has called Ireland, Greece, Indonesia and Solomon Islands home.

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