It's a case of 'Never give up!' Jeanne Socrates, solo sailing adventurer on her Najad 380 Nereida, has just passed the equator in her third non-stop attempt to solo circumnavigate the world unassisted.
Jeanne Socrates - over the equator and headed for the greatest challenge - the Horn
Having passed that significant bench mark, her seventh solo crossing of the equator, she is now heading for Cape Horn. Right now she reports that she is in excellent southeast Trades, and a much-reduced west-flowing equatorial current.
The equator crossing was uneventful - at 1200GMT on Monday, which was 4am local time.
'It was still very dark, with no moon to light up the sea as she gave Neptune/Poseidon his 'tipple' in thanks for a safe passage,' Jeanne reported via Sailmail. 'It was also very rough, beating into the seas, but with good wind making for fair speed.'
She had finally escaped the calms of San Francisco Bay earlier in the month, where a replacement liferaft had been organized to replace one that 'jumped ship' on her fourth day out.
Picking up her anchor on 30m of chain without a working windlass proved challenging, she reported - but using a long line shackled one end to the chain and the other taken to a mast winch, with lots of to-ing and fro-ing between bow and mast, she finally raised it and got away soon after sunrise. 'We had a beautiful sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, with clear blue skies, in good wind, carrying the strong ebb tide out into the Pacific!'
She headed down, initially through busy shipping, then well-offshore in continuing rough seas, past Mexico and Central America, making for the ITCZ (aka 'the Doldrums'). She managed to keep going well and avoided most of the nasty weather there - in fact, she reckoned it was one of her best crossings ever! As Jeanne has been circumnavigating the world since 2007 (with pauses while she repairs boats, collects money) the technology has improved gradually. This time it could have been responsible for her 'best crossing'
'It was really useful being able to download satellite pictures showing the active cloud formations in the area, so I could see where there might be gaps to head for.'
Jeanne hopes to have rounded Cape Horn safely early in the New Year. She's well aware of the problems in the Southern Ocean, having been badly knocked down W of Cape Horn in January 2011.
'Once past Cape Horn, it will be my third crossing in the Southern Ocean towards S. Africa and on towards Australia and New Zealand. I'm hoping that ice won't be a big problem and that the weather gods will be kinder to me this time around - I had a stormy time there, earlier this year.'
She's had several problems to contend with - for the past month, her autopilot has not been working properly, for one - but she was happy to report on Friday that she'd finally fixed it and it was working well!
The wind instrument finally stopped working just under a fortnight ago - she's planning to climb the mast in the calmer seas expected this weekend to change over the wind vane unit at the mast top in the hope that will solve her problem. Having no electronic wind information definitely takes sailing back to basics!
'In practice, I'm 'driving by the seat of my pants' just now - if we heel too much, time to reduce sail - simple! But it does make life a lot easier being able to see wind strength and direction at a glance. So I hope my mast climb won't be in vain.'
Regular news reports and positions while on passage are being posted to : www.svnereida.com
At 70 Jeanne is already the oldest female to circumnavigate the world solo. If she succeeds in this attempt, she will be the oldest female to circumnavigate solo, non-stop and unassisted.
Good luck Jeanne!