Sailing solo, senior hits 100 days at sea in world record attempt
Jeanne Socrates encountered massive swells near Cape Horn, off the tip of South America, on day 93 of her epic journey. (SVNereida.com)
A typical day for Jeanne Socrates is unlike that of pretty much any other 76 year old in the world.
"Found a big squid on deck while going to mast to free sail which had caught on a clutch while being hoisted. Back to bunk for more sleep..." she wrote in a recent blog entry time-stamped for 6:30 a.m.
How many 76 year olds encounter an errant squid during an average morning?
Socrates has reached the 100-day mark on her quest to become the oldest person to sail solo, nonstop, around the world. If successful, she’ll blow away the current record, set by a 71-year-old Japanese man.
No stranger to epic solo sails, Socrates set the record for oldest woman to do the trip back when she was 70.
When she set sail from a Victoria dock in October, her goal was to complete this circumference even faster than the last voyage, which took 258-and-a-half days.
Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been very cooperative. Socrates told CTV News in an email she made excellent time heading south through the Pacific, but around Cape Horn it’s been one storm after another.
"Too many nasty Lows coming along to avoid - 50-65 kt (knot) gusts are not something to be caught in if you can avoid them - so I have frequently heaved to in a safe place to wait and let them go by before continuing on,” said Socrates.
She has had plenty of near-misses. To get the title she is chasing, Socrates cannot use her engine and must only rely on her boat’s sails.
Getting to the cape meant some dicey moments aboard her vessel, the 38-foot S/V Nereida.
"Avoiding an imminent bad weather system, meant keeping sailing in very rough, big seas and winds up to 40 kt or more - got pretty scary keeping going overnight in those conditions, surfing at up to 12-15kt at times, in the big seas... I was definitely 'hanging on' and not enjoying it!"
But there have been bright moments too, like making contact with the U.S. South Pole station.
“Felt very special, somehow,” she wrote.
By the end of 100 days at sea Socrates was 9,532 nautical miles from Victoria.
She hopes to be back in port in June.
Socrates keeps in contact with other sailors, family and friends by radio, email and satellite phone.
However, based on her blog description of a quiet morning, being alone in the middle of the ocean isn’t necessarily lonely.
"Mornings are very good times. Much as I enjoy the radio contacts, it's also good to be alone with the vastness of the open sea and the sky. Time for relaxation and reflection... This is what ocean crossings are really about - away from the hustle and bustle - and stresses - of life back on shore."