Milestone for intrepid yachtswoman

Solo yachtswoman Jeanne Socrates rounded Cape Horn on 7th January on Day 78 of her 3rd attempt at a nonstop, unassisted, solo circumnavigation. This marks the beginning of her third crossing of the Southern Ocean from South America towards South Africa and on towards Australia and New Zealand.

‘I announced it to everyone on the Pacific Seafarers’ Net, on the radio just then, who shared the excitement with me!! Someone blew a trumpet!,’ she said.

Remarkably it is precisely the same date as two years ago, when she first rounded Cape Horn – that time on her way to Ushuaia for repairs after a nasty knockdown had damaged her boat badly on 5th January 2011.

‘It was also unbelievable was the glassy calm sea at midnight, after the wind had died away for most of the day – a calm which continued until just before dawn… the Southern Ocean is not renowned for no wind and flat seas – quite the opposite.’

Just as for the Vendée Globe racers also rounding Cape Horn at this time, icebergs and smaller ‘bergy bits’ have caused quite a worry on this section of her journey and she has been very grateful to have had the support of the Vendée Globe Race Management team who have kept her posted with the latest ice reports so she has known accurately where problems are likely.

One iceberg in particular looks to be right on her path in the Drake Passage 50 miles on after ‘turning the corner’ into the S. Atlantic.  Her aim now is to head NE as fast as possible to get away from the ice threat and also to a region of slightly less extreme weather conditions as she makes her way towards Africa.

Onboard gear problems have continued … but she has overcome most of them.   Recent ones have included: a shroud came free when a fitting broke holding it to the deck – successfully dealt with in big seas – rig now fine;
Iridium satellite phone is no longer working – not something she’s been able to resolve, unfortunately, despite Iridium Tech Support’s efforts to help her by SSB and email; mast track insert came loose just above the boom – now held firmly in place but means she no longer is able to hoist the full mainsail in order not to compromise the remaining track; autopilot went down – but turned into a simple ‘fix’ and was quickly dealt with;
line at inboard end of genoa pole came free from the car used to stow it on the mast track when a shackle disappeared- another trip up the mast was needed, although only to the first spreader this time, and some ingenuity was required to sort that problem out, so the pole could be used and then stowed easily again.       

One problem that arose recently was with her newly-acquired wind information, after all her work in December, getting a replacement wind anemometer in place on the stern arch and working.   The data is no longer being received on her instruments, after a short period of erratic display… Not easy to troubleshoot, so not yet something that has been sorted out – so she’s back to sailing ‘by the seat of her pants’, judging the wind strength according to the traditional Beaufort Scale and dealing with her sails accordingly.  

‘Actually it’s quite simple … if we’re heeling too much, it’s time to reef down. Accurate direction is no problem in daylight -I can read the ripples on the water to tell me the wind direction – not a problem. Having weather forecasts is pretty important. I download gribs and weatherfaxes, when available, on a regular basis and get other weather info. If I’m expecting a ‘blow’, I can sail defensively and if a typical, strong Southern Ocean Cold Front is expected to pass over, I gybe early.’

While on her way south, she has had the opportunity to double check that Nereida was prepared for the rough Southern Ocean conditions – having been there before, she knows what to expect and she’s looking forward to completing her circumnavigation in May/June.

Daily news reports with occasional photos and positions while on passage are being posted to :