The incredible Jeanne Socrates has crossed the equator! In her third attempt to circumnavigate the world non-stop the indomitable 70-year-old sailor has crossed the equator for the last time and 'merely' has to make it back to her starting point in Victoria, Canada, to become the oldest female to have circumnavigated the world solo, non-stop and unassisted.
Jeanne’s position at time of writing
She had been at sea for 208 days when she crossed the line. She'd been three months in the Southern Ocean before rounding her final southerly point of the SE Cape of Tasmania. So many things have broken on the boat that many another sailor might have given in. Finally, in the last couple of weeks even her communications systems have given up the ghost and she is now communicating by a ham radio email system which her ham radio friends in several countries have combined to arrange for her.
In this, her third circumnavigation, she has become an expert at making do and watching the weather. She has repaired multiple breakdowns and does without what she can't fix. She avoided several severe weather systems in the Tasman Sea, although the penalty was she was often beset by calms or very light breezes, and even at times drifting backwards.
In avoiding weather systems she was pushed more north than east and had to pass Fiji on the 'wrong' (west) side. This means she has had to avoid many reefs, atolls and undersea mountains in the way. In passing the equator she has negotiated one band of doldrums and must now pass through another. This is typified by very little wind during the tepid sweaty days and storms and running line squalls at night which can catch the unwary by surprise.
Added to that difficulty are the many atolls, reefs and sea mountains still to be avoided as the tension mounts among the many thousands of sailors world-wide who are following her progress.
The Incredible Background:
Jeanne's first sailing circumnavigation attempt on her boat Nereida - with stops - was started Mexico in March 2008. Just 60 miles short of completing the voyage her boat ended up driven ashore onto a beach and could not be refloated. Maybe it was a question of relaxing too soon. Undaunted by this setback, she decided to try to circumnavigate again with a new boat, a Najad 380, named, yet again, Nereida.
This time Jeanne set out to circumnavigate non-stop. The voyage started in November 2009, but ended in Cape Town with engine problems. However, she continued sailing round the world.
She started again in October 2010, ended some 100 miles west of Cape Horn with a severe knockdown. Her boom was broken and the boat was severely damaged. However, rejecting a tow, she limped into Ushuaia. Never to say die, Socrates pulled herself and her boat together, made repairs, and sailed on, realising when she reached Cape Town that she had completed a circumavigation, becoming the oldest female to do so solo. But she still wanted to do it non-stop, so she kept sailing back to Victoria in Canada to try again.
Now on her third circumnavigation attempt and second non-stop attempt, which began in Victoria, Jeanne has passed all the great obstacles of the Southern Ocean, reached this last milestone of the Equator.
This now, is last leg before, hopefully, a victorious arrival into Victoria in Canada.