The UCF alumna who was attempting to row across the Pacific Ocean has been rescued off the coast of Japan.

Sonya Baumstein, 30, sent out a distress signal around 2:20 p.m. Saturday, 155 miles off the Japanese coast, as reported by NBC News.

At the time of her rescue, she had been rowing for a week. Baumstein left the shores of Choshi, Japan, on June 6. She was hoping to land in San Francisco by late September.

She was rescued by a nearby freighter at 5 p.m. Saturday before she was passed onto a coast guard ship around 8:55 p.m, according to NBC News.

She ended her attempt due to expected bad weather, according to the article.

In a blog posted on her website,, Baumstein's campaign manager Andrew Cull wrote about the factors that culminated toward the decision to send for help, including losing a drogue, a critical steering system failure and battling headwinds and typhoons.

"On top of the data, Sonya and some team members felt that things weren't going right," wrote Cull. "While we couldn't put our finger on it, something felt wrong."

Cull writes that at this time, Sonya has not made the decision as to when or if she will attempt another solo expedition.

Baumstein was attempting to be the first woman to row solo across the Pacific Ocean, a project trip that she had been working toward for three years.

In a previous interview with the Central Florida Future, Baumstein said life doesn't always work out as you would expect it, but to not lose hope.

"There may be other routes to get to what you want to do," she said. "If it's not exactly as you thought, don't give up and ride it out. I never thought I would be doing this the way that I am and it's not always perfect."

The start of her journey was filled with delays as storms and tsunamis wreaked havoc on the Japanese shores.

In order to start rowing, Baumstein had to wait for three days of consecutively good weather before it was deemed safe enough to depart.

It was not all smooth sailing for Baumstein even after she departed Japan.

According to her website, she sent a message from her boat on June 9 that read, "Alls well. After a hellacious first few days. Almost had a game ender with fish boat. Flare + Being prepared saved my life!"

Baumstein is no stranger to dangerous situations. She previously rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, a trip she successfully completed with a group of men.

Before Baumstein, only two people had ever successfully rowed across the Pacific.


Amelia Truong is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Ameliatruong or email her at

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