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Socrates completes circumnavigation, but non-stop dream elusive

by Times Colonist/Sail-World on 3 Aug 2012
Jeanne - another solo circumnavigation complete, but still not satisfied .. .
Jeanne Socrates arrived back in Victoria, Canada, on Wednesday evening, 22 months after she left on her - wait for it - third attempt to circumnavigate the globe single-handed and non-stop.

Technical and damage problems have, until now, stopped her from making a solo circumnavigation without being forced to stop.


However, she is still the oldest female (by far) to have circumnavigated past all five Southern Capes, meaning she has spent a lot of time in the wild weather systems of the Southern Ocean.

'I feel fantastic - I had a fantastic sail,' a tanned and smiling Socrates, an almost-70 grandmother (birthday this month) and British national, told local media as she sat dockside, talking about her previous attempts:

From March 2007 to June 2008, she ran aground 60 nautical miles short of her starting point.

In October 2009, she left the Canary Islands but had to dock in Cape Town, South Africa, to replace an engine.

On her most recent attempt, things once again did not go as planned. Socrates sailed out of Victoria in late October 2010. She ran into trouble on Jan. 5, 2011, when her 38-foot sailboat, Nereida, was damaged when stormy seas off Cape Horn knocked it over and broke the boom.

Refusing the offer of a tow, she limped to port in Argentina for repairs, at first thinking that her circumnavigation was over. However, after repairs she set off for Cape Town in South Africa where she had further work done to repair the boat properly.

Not willing to give up on her dream, Jeanne will leave Victoria on her fourth attempt in October.

She isn't just trying to find a spot in the record books as the oldest woman to have sailed around the world via the southern oceans. She's also trying to raise money for the Marie Curie Cancer Care, a British charity that supplies nurses free of charge to the terminally ill.

Socrates, a retired schoolteacher, learned to sail in 1994 when she was 51. She and her husband, James, took a five-day sailing course and planned to spend many years at sea.

But in 2003, James died of cancer. A year later, Jeanne sailed by herself across the Atlantic to attend a sailing event there.

Socrates will begin her next solo non-stop circumnavigation try in October.

The next couple of months will keep her busy as she prepares for the trip.

One adjustment she will make is packing more dehydrated food on board.

Because the non-stop nature of her trip means she she can't stop in port, she has to carry enough for the seven-month voyage.

This will be her last attempt at circling the globe single-handed and non-stop, she said.

'If it doesn't work out, it clearly wasn't meant to be, and I'll go back to relaxed cruising in company with friends.'

But right now her only wish, once she had Customs' OK to come ashore, was 'to have a very nice, fresh lettuce salad.'
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