Jeanne Socrates, who is attempting to become the oldest person to sail solo around the world non-stop and unassisted, has now left Timaru Harbour in New Zealand

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.

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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