Sonya Baumstein is about to attempt something no other woman has ever done: She is going to try and cross the Pacific Ocean – non-stop, from Japan to San Francisco – in a row boat.
NBC Bay Area’s Mark Matthews spoke with Baumstein on Monday via Skype. She's on Japan’s east coast, about to embark on her voyage, which she hopes will end with her rowing under the Golden Gate Bridge.
"I’m afraid of losing my boat because I spent three years creating this thing,” Baumstein said when asked what she fears most about the challenge. Her boat is a 23-foot floating data collector that every 30 minutes will beam back ocean temperatures, salinity, current and weather information to scientists studying the affects of global warming.
Baumstein, from Port Townsend, Washington, is only 30, but she’s got some expeditions already logged. She rowed across the Atlantic. She kayaked from Seattle to Juneau.
“I’ve also paddle boarded the Bering Strait prior to doing this,” she said.
The highlight reel Baumstein put together for the Pacific crossing shows off some of those earlier trips. But this one is four-to-six months long, spent alone on a boat with with only seven feet of deck space, crossing the world’s biggest ocean.
“It all depends on how you want to use the moments that you have in your life,” Baumstein said, “and this is the moment in my life right now.”
Baumstein said she intends to spend her free time at sea collecting data on global warming.
All of the information will be beamed to a satellite and tracked by scientists at Earth & Space Research (ESR), a Seattle-based, nonprofit institute specializing in oceanographic research.
“And that’s all that I’m doing," Baumstein said. "I’m a community member that is helping to get data back.” She said she hopes to “contribute to the body of knowledge” so “we can help solve these major problems that we have on earth right now.”
There have been two solo crossings of the Pacific in a rowboat, according to Ocean Rowing Society records, but no woman has ever done it.
To follow Baumstein’s progress, and see the data she’s collecting, go to expeditionpacific.com.