Jeanne Scorates, who is attempting to become the oldest person to sail solo around the world non-stop and unassisted, is facing further delays due to hurricanes

31 July 2019

Two hurricanes – Erick and Flossie – are delaying Jeanne Socrates, as she continues her attempt to become the oldest person to sail solo around the world non-stop and unassisted.

The 76-year-old had hoped by now to be navigating her Najad 380, Nerieda through the Hawaiian island chain ahead of her final leg home to Victoria, British Columbia, but Hurricanes Erik and Flosse are moving towards Hawaii – and Nerieda –  forcing her to heave to.

Jeanne Scorates position of Nereida

Nerieda’s position on 31 July 2019

Socrates, who crossed the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere on 23 July, has planned to finish her circumnavigation by the end of August, but she is currently more than 800km from Hawaii and sailing at 2.1 knots.

This will mean she will spend her 77th birthday on 17 August at sea, alone.

Continues below…

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She told YM that she is finding it ‘difficult’ to come to terms with this, especially as she has now been sailing for more than 300 days. She had to endure a one week delay while crossing south of the Indian Ocean in March-April due to a cyclone.

Socrates successfully completed a solo, nonstop and unassisted circumnavigation in July 2013 at the age of 70, earning her a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

At 258 days 14 hours 16 minutes and 36 seconds, her record breaking voyage was significantly shorter than her current one.

24 July 2019

Jeanne Socrates is expected to return home to Victoria, British Columbia by late August after the 76-year-old skipper crossed the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere on 23 July.

She left her home port on 3 October 2018 aboard her Najad 380, Nerieda, rounding Cape Horn on 18 December and passing south of the Cape of Good Hope on 13 February after being delayed due to several Southern Ocean storms and major damage to her mainsail.

After avoiding a cyclone in the Indian Ocean she passed south of Cape Leeuwin in Australia and rounded the south east cape of Tasmania on 3 May.

Jeanne Socrates position after crossing the Equator

Jeanne Socrates position on 24 July 2019, showing Nereida back in the Northern Hemisphere

On her way to  rounding her last Southern Ocean cape – South Cape, off Stewart Island – Nerieda was knocked down, leaving Socrates without wind or solar charging capabilities; the yacht’s solar panels were also washed away and the mainsail was badly torn for a second time.

Determined not to give up, Socrates stopped in Timaru Harbour, South Island, New Zealand to make essential repairs. Under non-stop and unassisted rules, Socrates could moor or anchor as long as she didn’t touch land or seek assistance.

She repaired her mainsail, wind generator, cockpit instruments and  worked on her batteries, having experienced charging problems before setting off to continue her record attempt.

Socrates also had enough fuel left to run her generator for around four hours a day.

This is the fourth time Socrates has attempted to sail nonstop and solo around the world without assistance.

She successfully completed a solo, nonstop and unassisted circumnavigation in July 2013 at the age of 70, earning her a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The voyage was significantly shorter than her current one, having set off from Victoria, British Columbia in October 2012.

She is also the only woman to have sailed solo around the world, nonstop and unassisted, from North America.

In October 2016, she attempted to break the record again, but a severe storm caused damage to her 38-foot yacht, and forced her to return to port.

Heavy weather sailing

Jeanne Socrates aboard Nereida

She started out again in November 2016, only to be forced to abandon the voyage in San Diego due to genset repairs and a damaged gooseneck.

By the time those repairs were completed, it was too late in the season to start again.

In October 2017 another attempt had to be abandoned after Socrates fell from a ladder while Nereida was on the hard, which left her with eight broken ribs, a fractured vertebrae, broken nose and badly damaged right elbow.

The accident happened just days before her planned departure date on 5 October 2017.

10 June 2019

Jeanne Socrates has finished repairs to her Najad 380, Nerieda and is now underway again.

The 76-year-old was forced to stop, tying to a swinging mooring in Timaru Harbour, South Island, New Zealand, after the yacht sustained damaged when it was knocked down during her attempt to become the oldest person to circumnavigate the world solo, non-stop and unassisted.

At the time, Socrates was sailing with a tiny staysail in 45 knot winds and 8 metre seas.

Under non-stop and unassisted rules, she can moor or anchor as long as she doesn’t touch land or seek assistance.

Since stopping, Socrates has managed to repair the damage to her main sail and her cockpit instruments, although she is battling with mould in the forepeak due to condensation. She has also worked on her batteries, having experienced charging problems, and has covered up the hole left by the air vent which was ripped away in the knockdown.

The knockdown also left her with no solar power, as the panels were washed away. She does have a working wind generator, having replaced a broken blade.

Socrates is now starting her homeward leg, estimating it will take her 75 days to get back to her start port of  Victoria, British Columbia. She has enough fuel left to run her generator for around four hours a day.

She hopes to complete her circumnavigation by the beginning of August.

This is her fourth attempts at the record to become the oldest person to sail around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted

3 June 2019

Jeanne Socrates, 76, has stopped in Timaru Harbour, South Island, New Zealand to make essential repairs to her Najad 380, Nerieda.

The yacht was knocked down during her attempt to become the oldest person to circumnavigate the world solo, non-stop and unassisted.

Under non-stop and unassisted rules, Socrates can moor or anchor as long as she doesn’t touch land or seek assistance.

Speaking to Yachting Monthly, she said Nereida was sailing well, running with just a tiny staysail in 45 knots winds and 8 metre seas, when the knockdown happened on 15 May.

‘I was sitting on my bunk to port, preparing my 1900GMT reports and blog for the day, as usual, when we were knocked down. There was a big crash and a load of water pouring onto me from above where I was sitting [The seawater came through the dorade/air vent. It was torn away by the knockdown],’ she said.

The knockdown left her without wind or solar charging capabilities; the yacht’s solar panels were washed away. She has since repaired her wind generator.

‘I had a set of blades on board so perched up on the top of my stern arch and removed and replaced the broken blade – all working fine now, thank God,’ she said. ‘ The loss of solar power is a big blow, but I have enough diesel to run the generator to charge the batteries. I’m hoping to run the autopilot all the way back and can always hand steer partly as well.’

Despite these problems, Socrates successfully rounded her last Southern Ocean cape – South Cape, off Stewart Island – before heading to Timaru Harbour.

‘It was absolutely wonderful [to round South Cape]. The day was glorious and very calm in the lee of Stewart Island. There was good wind and Nereida was sailing nicely, a total change from the conditions so often met in the Southern Ocean, and leading up to my knockdown,’ she said.

Socrates has also had to deal with instruments going down, no radar, generator and related battery charging problems and, for the second time, a badly torn mainsail. The yacht is also suffering with condensation due to the present winter conditions and as a result of the knockdown.

She has also had to limit her SSB/HF radio use due to the yacht’s reduced power.

‘That is a big change for me since I was often on radio chatting to hams all over the world.I miss that! Fortunately, I have a satphone with email capability so I can still download big weather files and send my daily blogs – with photos at times. I run the radio for emails only when generator is running,’ explained Socrtates, who holds the record as the oldest woman to sail solo ​​non-stop​ ​unassisted around the world​ and the first woman to sail solo non-stop unassisted around the world from North America

Despite these trials, Socrates said she still feels ‘pretty good’ about achieving the record, although the charging problem and being reliant on autopilot is a big concern.

‘I have visions of hand steering, alternating with heaving to for sleep, as I had to do for ten days running a few years ago,’ she said.

Following repairs,  Socrates plans to start her homeward leg, navigating east until about 160W, then north-east towards Tahiti, then towards Hawaii and on due north and finally east around the North Pacific High, to Cape Flattery at the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, leading to her home port of Victoria, British Columbia.

She hopes to complete her circumnavigation by the beginning of August.

This is her fourth attempts at the record to become the oldest person to sail around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted