national

Steering failure, bad weather ended rower's Pacific crossing attempt

64 Comments
By Elaine Kurtenbach

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

64 Comments
Login to comment

She spent several days after her departure relatively close to shore as she waited for her sea sickness to subside...

Incredible. Just how much more unprepared could this woman have been?

0 ( +9 / -9 )

A steering system failure, bad weather and a sense that “things weren’t going right” has ended an American woman’s attempt to cross the Pacific by rowboat.

That and a burning desire to come and give JT readers a kick in the nuts.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

she was approaching the limits of the Japanese Coast Guard’s normal range and decided with her team that it would be irresponsible to continue and potentially put rescuers’ lives at risk

Maybe she did it to save her own life too?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Lol.

-3 ( +6 / -8 )

The steering system on her 7-meter-long custom-made carbon boat had failed, and weather and wave forecasts were ominous.

Sonya and some team members felt that things weren’t going right. While we couldn’t put our finger on it, something felt wrong.

So which is it? I sense some backside covering going on here. Farcical.

-6 ( +4 / -9 )

She spent several days after her departure relatively close to shore as she waited for her sea sickness to subside, but then made progress and was able to get into the Kuroshio current that crosses the Pacific west to east as planned.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

At least she tried. Sea sickness (funayoi) indicates she hardly had experience in riding any boat or ships. Which state she grew?

-3 ( +4 / -6 )

@Toshi, I think she's from Idaho.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I hope this wasn't a crowdfunded project.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I have zero experience on the sea but would be willing to bet I'd have done better than this dope and her marx brothers team. All the excuses but in the end methinks it all comes down to a lack of bottle. (courage)

-4 ( +5 / -8 )

"Common sense" seems to be missing from this story's headline. And this woman's vocabulary...

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I like that she got seasick.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I have to 2nd A.N. Other and say this lady was not at all ready for such a major adventure. My gut reaction to this has been something like 'You've got to be kidding.'

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Hate to be cruel, but her "excellent adventure" is hardly the stuff of legend. A week? Big difference between the voyage of Sonya Baumstein and her high -tech gadgetry and the voyage of Shackleton in the James Caird. Bad Weather? What was she expecting? Just more proof that they don't make 'em like they used to.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

By looking at her pictures, she didn't even appear to be in a physical shape required to row across the Pacific. And called it off because of being "seasick"? Didn't it occur to her if she is prone to seasickness that perhaps rowing across the Pacific would not be a great idea??? Also, did she take the time to acclimatize her body to the motion of the ocean??? It sounds like someone trying to get her 10 secs of fame.... a NON story!

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I think the 6 "P"s were not observed here: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Richard Wood: talk about not reading the article... she stayed close to shore to acclimatize herself to the motion of the ocean, and she did not call it off due to seasickness.

I think we have 17 comments and 17 smug haters, but recall that this woman already rowed the Atlantic Ocean.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

She said earlier that any costs for a rescue were to be covered by insurance

And the insurance company will charge other people higher premiums as a result.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Last time I was in a "rowboat," the "steering system" consisted of my upper body and two oars.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Isn't that 7 Ps? There's one missing between "prevents" and "poor". It rhymes with "kiss".

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I think we have 17 comments and 17 smug haters, but recall that this woman already rowed the Atlantic Ocean.

CORRECTION: Rowed in the Atlantic Ocean.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

@YongYangJUN. 16, 2015 - 08:23AM JST @Toshi, I think she's from Idaho.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Thank you for info. She is not used on sea or ocean waves.

$

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

at least she's not stupid.

A.N. OtherJun. 16, 2015 - 10:06AM JST I think we have 17 comments and 17 smug haters, but recall that this woman already rowed the Atlantic Ocean. CORRECTION: Rowed in the Atlantic Ocean.

with 3 other men.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"We've only got one floating anchor thingy and we need two to stop you being flipped..or something..oh n the steering is broken, you're almost out of reach of the coast guard, we certainly can't help you, and the weather looks pretty darn bad. To top it off, we have a bad feeling about everything." You think?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

While we couldn’t put our finger on it, something felt wrong.

Why does a "row boat" have a steering system?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

A.N.Other: Incredible. Just how much more unprepared could this woman have been?

If you have the answer as to how she could have better prepared, please enlighten us.

But there’s also practice. Sonya says she jogged, lifted weights, and swam, and spent two hours a day on an “erg,” a rowing machine, set to the highest resistance level to simulate the weight of the craft she’d use on her voyage. Two hours a day may sound like a lot. But what she was about to attempt was to spend twenty-four hours every day in a rowboat. While she wouldn’t be pulling at the oars continuously, she’d be on them half of each day, or six times what she was practicing.

“The reality is you can’t train for an ocean row,” Sonya says. “You can do your best, but the only way to prepare for an ocean row is to get in a boat and start rowing. It’s just preparing mentally, because it hurts the whole time. And when you think it might get better, it just hurts more.”

Richard Wood: By looking at her pictures, she didn't even appear to be in a physical shape required to row across the Pacific.

Incorrect. She put on the weight in anticipation of the amount of calories she'd end up burning.

Baumstein is making the trip with 1,200 pounds of freeze-dried food, 180 high-carbohydrate drink supplements and a supply of olive oil that she’ll drink to retain weight.

She expects to burn up to 10,000 calories a day. She even gained 40 pounds before taking off, in anticipation of losing the weight.

And called it off because of being "seasick"? Didn't it occur to her if she is prone to seasickness that perhaps rowing across the Pacific would not be a great idea??? Also, did she take the time to acclimatize her body to the motion of the ocean???

Incorrect. No where does it say that the trip was called off due to her being seasick. Staying close to the shore for the first few days was for the purpose of reacclimatizing her body to the sea.

Some level of seasickness is normal and should be expected during the first 1-4 days of an ocean passage, even if you have never been seasick while coastal sailing. Seasickness is caused by sensory conflict and/or stress, both of which result in histamine production. Nausea results when histamine reaches the brain. Some people are more susceptible than others but given the right conditions anyone can become seasick. Having dealt with over 400 seasick sailors over the past forty years, we have become very experienced at prevention and treatment.

YongYang: Toshiko, I think she's from Idaho.

Incorrect.

She's from Orlando, FL and has been sailing since 1993 and rowing since 1998.

Toshiko: Thank you for info. She is not used on sea or ocean waves.

Incorrect. See above and below.

...she crossed the Atlantic in an open boat in the winter of 2011–12. Then she kayaked up the Inside Passage, from Seattle to Juneau.

clueless: All the excuses but in the end methinks it all comes down to a lack of bottle. (courage)

Incorrect. She's got plenty of courage and far more physical power and stamina than most, as well.

...she crossed the Atlantic in an open boat in the winter of 2011–12. Then she biked across the United States. Then she kayaked up the Inside Passage, from Seattle to Juneau.

kaisaifun: "Common sense" seems to be missing from this story's headline. And this woman's vocabulary...

Why's that, because she was willing to try something that would give most here nightmares? Because she was willing to attempt something knowing that failure was a possibility? So she failed? She had a dream and she attempted to achieve it. Most don't ever get past the dreaming.

4 ( +7 / -4 )

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 7-meter-long custom-made carbon boat had failed,

Proper preparation would have prevented this from happening.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Lots of crass, uninformed comments above by petty haters.

Just to fill in some blanks and inaccuracies: She was born and raised in Orlando Florida. And here's a list of her previous experiences:

Previous Expeditions Dec 2011 - Jan 2012 (57 days): Rowed the Atlantic Ocean, Canaries to Barbados

Mar 15 2012 - May 20 2012: Tour biked, fully loaded, from Mexican Border to Seattle

June 2012 - August 2012: Sea kayaked from Seattle (Ballard) to Juneau, Alaska

June 15 - August 8 2013: Western Alaska kayak/SUP expedition (August 1 2013: Became the first person to SUP the Bering Strait from Big Diomede to Alaskan mainland, just north of Wales, AK)

That's not a pittance of water experience.

I applaud her effort as well as her decision to abandon the current attempt.

3 ( +5 / -3 )

I think the 6 "P"s were not observed here: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

She had Publicity covered though.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I swear the article is of damage control cuz the rower read the comments made by JT posters.An article of true fluff and excuse making.Changes nothing.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

If you have the answer as to how she could have better prepared, please enlighten us.

Yes I do, toolongone (nice monker, by the way).

1) Sea trials. Put to sea for weeks at a time, but within coastal waters to assess the seaworthiness of her boat and to acclimatise her body.

2) Endurance runs like rowing around the main Japanese isles to test her strength and stamina.

3) Planning contingencies (other than quitting) for when things inevitably go wrong (and they will, despite the best made plans).

4) Not shooting her mouth off before her attempt.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

1) Sea trials. Put to sea for weeks at a time, but within coastal waters to assess the seaworthiness of her boat and to acclimatise her body.

Have you ever done a sea crossing? She has, and this is her comments on the matter: "“The reality is you can’t train for an ocean row,” Sonya says. “You can do your best, but the only way to prepare for an ocean row is to get in a boat and start rowing."

I'll take her word over some hack on the internet.

2) Endurance runs like rowing around the main Japanese isles to test her strength and stamina.

See above comment.

3) Planning contingencies (other than quitting) for when things inevitably go wrong (and they will, despite the best made plans).

Please show some evidence that they didn't have contingency plans. Because it seems to me they did - if things looked bad before they got out of the range of the Japanese coast guard, they would call it quits then.

4) Not shooting her mouth off before her attempt.

By saying she was going to do it? When has anyone ever not done that before doing something of a major caliber?

Haters gon' hate. You just proved it.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I did a speed walk of 18 kilometers yesterday. A bit warm, but I endured. Great for my tummy and legs. From the looks of it, this woman is more of an athlete than most. I never saw any pictures of her glued to her phone, nor read any comments by her claiming to be judge and jury from her sofa. She is an athlete. Leave her be.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

She has, and this is her comments on the matter: "“The reality is you can’t train for an ocean row,”

I can't believe you have just cited a failure as an authority on ocean crossing.

Please show some evidence that they didn't have contingency plans.

The fact that she had to be rescued isn't enough for you?

Dear me.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I can't believe you have just cited a failure as an authority on ocean crossing.

She didn't fail on her other expeditions did she. I'm guessing you must be one of those people who expects Japanese people to speak perfect English before they open their mouths. How's your Japanese by the way? Have you ever gotten past your fear of failure to be able to actually try to use it?

And again, I ask you to tell us your qualifications. She's done major expeditions in the past. And you?

The fact that she had to be rescued isn't enough for you?

I'd call it irresponsible if she didn't have a contingency plan that required rescuing. Would you rather she died?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

But she tried, didn't she? Goddamnit, at least she did that.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

a.n.other: I can't believe you have just cited a failure as an authority on ocean crossing.

she crossed the Atlantic in an open boat in the winter of 2011–12. Then she biked across the United States. Then she kayaked up the Inside Passage, from Seattle to Juneau.

You must be one accomplished person to be slinging about the word "failure" so easily.

The fact that she had to be rescued isn't enough for you?

Yes, she failed in this attempt. That does not mean she wasn't prepared. Accepting that failure is a possibility is part of a successful plan. She may have failed in this attempt but I'd hardly call her "a failure" and shame on you for doing so. The hateful anonymity of the internet strikes again, doesn't it?

Dear me.

Indeed.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

As someone who sailed 3-4 times per week and who worked on a car and passenger ferry growing up, I can say that many of the people I worked with got seasick every season after the winter layoff; the only way to guarantee to be ready and rid of it, is to be on the ocean. British sailor Pete Goss, a former Royal Marine and sailor who sailed solo around the world, speaks of crippling seasickness in the first week out of port.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yesterday I said that in her photograph she did not have the muscle tone or physical shape of someone that would try such an extremely difficult feat.

Did you read the reply to that comment: <www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/u-s-woman-attempting-to-row-across-pacific-rescued#comment_1997654>

She's someone who has already succeeded in other similarly difficult feats. And the fact that she did try, means that she does have the physique of someone that would try such an extremely difficult feat, which proves your theory wrong.

As someone who sailed 3-4 times per week and who worked on a car and passenger ferry growing up, I can say that many of the people I worked with got seasick every season after the winter layoff; the only way to guarantee to be ready and rid of it, is to be on the ocean. British sailor Pete Goss, a former Royal Marine and sailor who sailed solo around the world, speaks of crippling seasickness in the first week out of port.

And once again we have someone ruining the haters' arguments with facts and logic. Shame on you.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

There were four possible outcomes

1) reach the target

2) fail and turn around.

3) fail and be rescued

4) fail and die

Now one didn't happen and two wasn't possible. 4 didn't happen because they had the sense to call for 3. Not sure why people see that as a bad thing. Pretty much every attempt at something like this that fails ends in rescue or death. I remember Richard Branson being rescued trying to break a world record. Wonder if the same people were determined to hate then.

And yes she was part of a team that rowed the Atlantic yet instead of proving her credentials it seems that some disagree. What do you think she was doing on that trip? Making tea? Cooking toasted sandwiches?

More people die on the way down on Everest than going up because they don't have the strength of mind to turn round.

She'll be back again and I wish her the best of luck. People like her are,IMO crazy, but that's because they take on things that are way out of my comfort zone.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Yes, she failed in this attempt. That does not mean she wasn't prepared.

She lost a drogue. Her "steering" packed up. The weather forecast was bad (LOL).

One is chance, two is coincidence, three is a pattern. Do the math.

Yes, she failed in this attempt. That does not mean she wasn't prepared. Accepting that failure is a possibility is part of a successful plan.

I sense mental gymnastics going on here.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I remember Richard Branson being rescued trying to break a world record.

But, but, then that means, he's a failure. A failure. Why would anyone ever listen to anything he says again? He failed, and that means he's a FAILURE.

She lost a drogue. Her "steering" packed up. The weather forecast was bad (LOL).

One is chance, two is coincidence, three is a pattern. Do the math.

Yeah, because when someone properly prepares, more than two things never go wrong. Ever. When it does, it means that proper preparation wasn't done, and the person is a failure. You read that right, a FAILURE.

Yes, she failed in this attempt. That does not mean she wasn't prepared. Accepting that failure is a possibility is part of a successful plan.

I sense mental gymnastics going on here.

No, you are seeing one of the habits of highly successful people. It's why no one of any salt ever would invest in a business plan that doesn't have an exit strategy built into it. Pretty much everyone who has ever succeeded has had a plan for if/when things go wrong. It's those who don't have a plan that truly fail.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

At least she tried! how many scientists, artists, who failed hilariously like her and were criticized negatively by "normal people"? airplanes? automobiles?these inventions and ideas also failed at the beginning?

I think the people who comment and just living a normal life (9-17:00 jobs) don't have the right to judge her. If you've done the same thing, then you have the right to judge her, but for people who just assume??? come on! go back to you deskjobs!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You've obviously missed the lesson here noypikantoku. The lesson is that if there is not a 100% guaranteed chance you will succeed, you should never try, ever. Because if you try, and don't succeed, you are a failure. A FAILURE.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Strangerland; Hear, hear! To other posters; the 2012 Vendee Globe around the world race saw 20 of the the best-funded, most-experienced sailors in the world start in million-dollar boats. Nine didn't finish, with four out in the first five days.

The 2008 race saw 30 starters; 19 didn't finish, with four out within the first six days.

This woman having to turn back has nothing to do with her being ill-prepared; the ocean and the weather will decide regardless of preparation.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

the 2012 Vendee Globe around the world race saw 20 of the the best-funded, most-experienced sailors in the world start in million-dollar boats. Nine didn't finish, with four out in the first five days.

That's nine FAILURES.

The 2008 race saw 30 starters; 19 didn't finish, with four out within the first six days.

And 19 more FAILURES.

Why did these people even try, knowing that there was a chance they would fail? Mind-boggling.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

But, but, then that means, he's a failure. A failure. Why would anyone ever listen to anything he says again? He failed, and that means he's a FAILURE.

and the person is a failure. You read that right, a FAILURE.

Because if you try, and don't succeed, you are a failure. A FAILURE.

That's nine FAILURES.

And 19 more FAILURES.

NURSE!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Strangerland; Absolutely right! Shouldn't try with no guarantee of success; it's amazing so many people try anything at all ... silly people!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

NURSE!

Yes, anyone who would ever attempt anything at which they may possibly fail needs a nurse. If there's one thing I've learned on JT, and regarding this lady in particular, it's that.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Haters gotta hate cuz they can't do anything themselves. Sonya Baumstein has more guts and gumption in her left pinkie toe than the wonks criticizing her attempt here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Strangerland: "And the fact that she did try, means that she does have the physique of someone that would try such an extremely difficult feat, which proves your theory wrong."

Ummm... Sorry, but saying someone tried, and admitting they failed, is not at ALL proof that they have the proper physique. The fact that she failed is a much more valid proof that she did not than, "Well, she tried -- so that's proof that she could have if... she didn't fail... which she... ummm... did".

Even if she had the right physique for it -- and stop saying she 'did because she tried', and don't use other accomplishments as proof when this 'first attempt to do something' failed (because as such there cannot be an equal task she has accomplished, or any other woman for that matter) -- she obviously was NOT prepared if so many things went wrong with the 'rowboat' and its various systems. How prepared were they if so many things went wrong? And again, before you answer, don't forget that she failed. What were all these other contingencies you guys say she had prepared, while we're at it?

She was ill-prepared. Bottom line. Sounds like it was just a matter of, "Hey, I want to try this and set records!" without the ability to do it. Need proof? she couldn't.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

tokyoclambake

Strangerland; Absolutely right! Shouldn't try with no guarantee of success; it's amazing so many people try anything at all ... silly people!

You don't call it a challenge when there is a guarantee of success! Humans don't have wings, 200 years ago there was no guarantee that humans can fly.....thank god Wright Brothers didn't think the way you did. ;-)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Heda_Madness

"And yes she was part of a team that rowed the Atlantic yet instead of proving her credentials it seems that some disagree. What do you think she was doing on that trip? Making tea? Cooking toasted sandwiches?"

Well, she is female! She is fat! (Despite the fact she is intentionally fat for the purpose of survival). Obviously her proper role is doing what you mentioned, as well as the laundry for the male crew. And if she wasn't born in the middle of the ocean, she's no business stepping into a rowboat.

Sarcasm off now.

Thanks to those who have tried to interject a bit of fact into the discussion. It seems that's a thankless task.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

noypikantoku: I wasn't serious; I was playing off of strangerland's posts. If you look at my earlier posts (1:42 and 3:22), I'm one of the few supporting her and expressing understanding for both seasickness and the fact that the ocean and the weather decide who makes it, regardless of preparation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strangerland: "And the fact that she did try, means that she does have the physique of someone that would try such an extremely difficult feat, which proves your theory wrong."

Ummm... Sorry, but saying someone tried, and admitting they failed, is not at ALL proof that they have the proper physique.

I didn't claim she had the proper physique. Let's re-read:

Original comment: "Yesterday I said that in her photograph she did not have the muscle tone or physical shape of someone that would try such an extremely difficult feat"

And my reply: "fact that she did try, means that she does have the physique of someone that would try such an extremely difficult feat"

The original comment was that someone with her physique wouldn't even try. She did try. Therefore the claim that someone with her physique was incorrect, as someone with her physique (her) did try.

she obviously was NOT prepared if so many things went wrong with the 'rowboat' and its various systems.

That's so incorrect. Things don't always go as planned. That doesn't mean that she wasn't prepared.

But hey, I get what you are saying. She's a FAILURE. She tried, when there wasn't a 100% absolute guaranteed chance of success. How stupid is that. Absolutely ridiculous. She's a FAILURE and she should have never tried, because now she FAILED and that makes her a FAILURE.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Big boats have trouble crossing an ocean, why would anyone ever try to do it in a row boat. The fact the person failed makes total sense .... as for challenges go .. an A for effort .. as for practicality ... an F in my eyes ....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

why would anyone ever try to do it in a row boat.

Same reason people climb mountains.

A for effort .. as for practicality ... an F in my eyes ....

Yes, we've already established she's a FAILURE and never should have even tried since there was a chance of FAILURE.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

But nice she had insurance to cover rescue cost to pay. Maybe she might succeed if she tried on Atlantic Ocean? At least she got on news in Japan. No her news in USA channels. Hope she gets commercial contracts by boat makers Ocean re;ated news are just Shark bit children in NC shore. .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The first person to row the width of the Pacific Ocean solo was Peter Bird of Britain. Bird set off from San Francisco, California and arrived at the Great Barrier Reef Australia 294 days later on 14 June 1983. Bird would later die attempting the west to east journey across the Pacific.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bird would later die attempting the west to east journey across the Pacific.

Another FAILURE.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

she wasn't totally stupid. A for effort.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

toshiko: Maybe she might succeed if she tried on Atlantic Ocean?

Been there. Done that.

In January 2012, after recovering from an accident that cut short her collegiate rowing career, she joined three men in rowing the mid-Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

At least she got on news in Japan. No her news in USA channels.

Really, I'm here on holiday and have seen news about her twice so far, and I don't even watch much telly when I'm on holiday. Additionally, a quick Google of Sarah Baumstein Pacific will get you about 20,100 results (0.59 seconds)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At the time, she was approaching the limits of the Japanese Coast Guard’s normal range and decided with her team that it would be irresponsible to continue and potentially put rescuers’ lives at risk, the team said in a statement.

So flying out to rescue someone doesn't put the rescuers' lives at risk until the rescuee is out of flight range? That's an interesting, if uneducated, view.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tokyoclambake

sumimasen deshita.... m( )m

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At least this ridiculous woman has given us all a good laugh.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites