Celebrating the seamanship skills of Jeanne Socrates. Welcome to the December 2019 issue of Yachting Monthly, on sale 7 November
You’ve got to hand it to her. The feat of seamanship that Jeanne Socrates has just pulled off in sailing around the world, solo and non-stop, is remarkable.
Not because of her age, though to do so at 77 commands respect, even awe.
Not because of her route south of the Great Capes, though that too requires courage.
But because of the sheer tenacity she showed in overcoming difficulties.
She was beset by one breakage, one electrical malfunction and one sail tear after another. Any of those problems would have been enough to send most of us running for the nearest safe haven, but not Jeanne (p20).
Possessed of a rare determination, when a circuit breaker kept on failing, putting her instruments out of action for days on end, Jeanne rewired her electrical systems.
When her mainsail ripped along the leech in heavy weather, it took weeks of bad weather before it was calm enough to get the sail on deck and to effect a repair with what she had on board.
She was knocked down, lost her solar panels, her windvane steering was taken out and she nearly lost her batteries, but that didn’t stop her.
Even a broken neck and seven broken ribs, suffered when she was preparing the boat for a previous voyage, didn’t stop her.
In the end, she made it back to Victoria in British Columbia after 339 days at sea.
To complete this voyage, Jeanne had to be a jack of all trades.
On the one hand, she mastered traditional seamanship skills (see p28) – handing sail, steering a course in heavy seas, stitching torn canvas – and on the other, modern technical ability – rewiring autopilots, rescuing dead batteries and interpreting satellite forecasts (see p36).
Now that’s an impressive range of accomplishments to aspire to.