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Southern Spars

Oldest female solo circumnavigator off to the Southern Ocean again

by Nancy Knudsen on 4 Mar 2012
Jeanne Socrates sailing routes so far and her current position .. .
Jeanne Socrates just can't stay on land. In May last year the 68-year-old grandmother became the oldest woman to sail solo around the world by crossing her outbound route south west of Cape Town. Since then she's been resting and relaxing and preparing her boat. Now she has left Cape Town and is half way across the Southern Indian Ocean heading for Tasmania.

Her last circumnavigation followed a fairly long route. She started from from Cape Town, across the Indian Ocean, past Cape Leeuwin, through Bass Strait and Cook Strait to Kauai in Hawaii, then on to Cape Flattery on the west coats of North America, then to Victoria. South from Victoria, in Canada, around Cape Horn to Ushuaia, on to Falklands and back now towards Cape Town.


About Jeanne's voyages:
Jeanne seems to have been sailing circumnavigations for years, so it gets to be confusing to try to keep up with her many voyages. Her last two attempts have been for non-stop circumnavigations, but bad luck has dogged her two attempts, and a previous circumnavigation ground to a halt, literally, when, due to an autopilot failure, her previous boat, also called Nereida, went aground on a Mexican beach just 60 miles short of her final destination.

Her next attempt was to circle the globe solo and non-stop. She set out in October 2009 from the Canary Islands, but had to make unplanned stop because of rigging problems two months later in Cape Town, South Africa. Once there, she found she had to replace the boat’s engine.

Three months later, the hardy grandmother was heading eastward south of Australia sailing directly for Nelson in New Zealand. She ended up in Port Townsend, Wa., for repairs in preparation for her next attempt.

Jeanne, who was born and lives in London, UK, chose Victoria, Canada, to start her next voyage, and set off again in October 2010. By now it was her third attempt at a circumnavigation, and second attempt at a non-stop circumnavigation.

However, bad luck dogged her again, as she suffered a severe knock-down which severely damaged her boat including the snapping of her boom, just 100 nautical miles west of Cape Horn, while hove to waiting for a weather system to pass. Rejecting help from local vessels, she limped into Ushuaia, unaided.

The damage to the yacht was severe, there was little in Ushuaia in the way of facilities, and, at the time, Jeanne was uncertain as to how to proceed. However, with incredible perseverance, she repaired Nereida once again, and set off from Ushuaia heading for Cape Town, where she had previously spent two months replacing her engine.

Somewhere along the way, Jeanne and her team realised that by reaching Cape Town, she would have completed a circumnavigation - by default.

Now Jeanne might be the oldest female to complete a solo circumnavigation, but that's not good enough for this great adventurer, who didn't start sailing until she was in her fifties and wants to circumnavigate the world non-stop.

Here she goes again, and Sail-World Cruising will bring you up to date regularly with the progress of this remarkable solo sailor.

Her website is www.svnereida.com

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