Jeanne Socrates, a 73-year-old former London maths teacher, has set out on a record fourth solo circumnavigation, with the aim of become the oldest person to sail round the globe alone, non-stop and unassisted. This will be her third solo circumnavigation via the Southern Ocean and the five great capes – Cape Horn (Chile), the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), Cape Leeuwin (Australia), plus the southern-most capes of Tasmania and New Zealand.
She completed the first in October 2012, having covered 28,800 miles in 251 days at sea. Socrates had hoped that this would be a non-stop voyage, but Nereida, her 38ft Najad 380, sustained significant damage when she was knocked down while hove to in storm-force conditions 100 miles west of Cape Horn. Two days later Socrates rounded Cape Horn unaided, but then had to stop at the Argentine port of Ushuaia for repairs. She subsequently continued her voyage via the Falklands and Cape Town, Tasmania, Tahiti and Hawaii, returning to Canada a few days before her 70th birthday.
On a subsequent attempt she completed a non-stop circumnavigation on the same route, arriving back in Victoria Harbour, British Columbia, Canada, after 259 days at sea. It earned her two further records the first woman to sail solo nonstop around the world from North America and the oldest woman to sail solo nonstop around the world. However, there remained another to chase – she was fractionally too young to claim the record of oldest non-stop solo circumnavigator that veteran Japanese solo racer Minoru Saito took in 2004 at the age of 71.
Socrates left Vancouver on October 19 this year, but ran into storm force conditions five days later, which forced her to lie to Nereida’s Jordon Series Drogue for two days. During this storm both the drogue and the staysail, which came partially unfurled, sustained damage. She therefore returned to base to make repairs, before restarting on November 13. At the time of writing, 11 days into the voyage, she was roughly 250 miles off the coast of California, just north of Los Angeles, with calm seas and a north-to-north west breeze.