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Jeanne Socrates, indomitable, sails again

by Nancy Knudsen on 5 Nov 2012
Jeanne Socrates on Nereida - so many records already but ’going for it’ again .. .
She's off to circumnavigate the world again, this time non-stop. Fit, strong, athletic 70-year-old Jeanne Socrates, dogged by mostly mechanical problems in her earlier attempts, is again attempting to sail around the world solo and non-stop. If you ever doubted she had the stamina to do it, this hitch-filled beginning will put you straight, told in her own words:

I had an excellent start to my third attempt at a nonstop, unassisted, solo circumnavigation (which began on Monday 22nd October from Victoria, B.C. in Canada) with a great sail out through the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the Pacific, ready to head South towards Cape Horn... but strong S-SW winds then made the going very difficult and rough.

Unbelievably, while heeled well over and banging into rough seas, I found the newly-serviced liferaft had 'jumped ship' and was trailing along behind us, acting as a sea anchor.... I had to cut it away. Clearly, it was not sensible to continue far without trying to replace it, so it was agreed that I could stop in San Francisco to do that, so long as I did all the necessary work and no-one boarded the boat or gave me any physical assistance before continuing on towards Cape Horn.

I had several days of difficult sailing, in SW-SE winds, trying to get to San Francisco, as I also tried to organise the replacement raft.... It's not easy being a 'one-man band', at times!!

I was forced to make a night entry into San Francisco Bay, to catch the flood tide in before the wind died, and to pick up a buoy at Sausalito Yacht Club in winds of only 1-2knots - not easy when the winds are so light that you can't head up into them to stop the boat at the buoy, in order to pick up the mooring line... But I managed it - just!! That was over Wed/Thurs night and the liferaft was finally fixed onto a new cradle on Friday afternoon, so I was ready to leave on Saturday with the ebb tide, I thought..... NOT SO!

Do you ever have that feeling that Fate is conspiring against you?? The ebb tide towards the Golden Gate Bridge was weak and the wind nearly nonexistent...!

A boat came up, recognised me, and offered help. I had to explain I couldn't accept any - nor could I use my motor to help move along... He hadn't realized.....the driver Jake came back later for some photos and stayed around for quite a bit, seeing I was in trouble getting anywhere in the oh-so-light conditions- kind of him! I got part of the way towards the Bridge, but after drifting around in the dark for several hours, worried I'd be taken into deep water (or over to Angel Island or shallows across the way) and definitely 'not under command', I had to get out my ground tackle and anchor while depth wasn't too bad - and found the electric windlass wasn't working, of course...grrr!!!So, as well as having to lift the anchor out of the locker and over pulpit, I then had to manhandle the chain and gypsy so the chain could run freely to lower the anchor... 30m of chain are now waiting to be raised when some wind comes in conjunction with an ebb tide... We couldn't get anywhere near Sausalito Yacht Club to pick up the buoy again - but not for want of trying!

So here I am becalmed, with a fabulous view of the Bay area, under a lovely starry sky - with the very same Coast Guard boat that kept an eye on me when I entered overnight Wed/Thurs very close by, tied to their buoy....

I don't know if I'll get away tomorrow - need the wind to come up at the right time to catch the ebb...

Jeanne will be posting her usual regular reports and positions while on passage to her website, , and you can follow her journey there.

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