British sailor Jeanne Socrates admits that the cost of circumnavigation preparation has left her bank balance at ‘almost zero’.

Solo round-the-world yachtswoman Jeanne Socrates is due to set sail on 17 October in an attempt to become the oldest person to sail around the world non-stop, solo, and unassisted.

Three years ago Jeanne, now 74, sailed into the Guinness World Records book in her Najad 380 yacht Nereida as the first woman to sail single-handed, non-stop around the world from North America, and the oldest woman to circumnavigate solo, non-stop.

The achievement marked Jeanne’s third attempt. Previous attempts were halted by rigging problems and a knockdown off Cape Horn. She completed the circumnavigation but the non-stop challenge eluded her until 8 July 2013, when she returned to Canada after 258 days, 14 hours, 16 minutes, 36 seconds at sea.

The record for the oldest person is currently held by Minoru Saito from Japan, achieved aged 71.


Jeanne Socrates’s yacht Nereida. Credit: Ian Grant

The forthcoming voyage in the 11.6m (38ft) yacht Nereida is expected to take Jeanne eight months, departing Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and travelling around the five Great Capes of the Southern Ocean and back to her starting point without any outside help and with her motor sealed.

Jeanne, who has a home in Lymington, returned to the UK for a fortnight in September to attend the Southampton Boat Show, where she gave presentations for Hydrovane,, Commodore Yachting, and at the Dave Selby stand.

She told PBO her ‘nails were black’ from all the boat work: ‘Prior to the show I spent the weekend doing the hull bottom, ready to launch on the Monday, and at 11.30pm I was still heating Coppercoat patches to dry it for sanding. I did a massive winch cleaning and servicing operation, plus lots of jobs below.’

Jeanne has offloaded many unwanted items like doors, a dinghy, outboard, main anchor and chain. New additions include Hydrovane parts fitted, a clear storm screen, and her liferaft has been serviced.

The yacht is packed with provisions, with fresh produce still to buy including 10 dozen eggs.

Liveaboard Jeanne says: ‘I’ve got all this food on board, but I don’t dare to eat it.’

She added: ‘New-laid, unchilled eggs last four months when you turn them every day.’

The Royal Victoria Yacht Club in Victoria have kindly provided Jeanne with free berthing and offers of help during preparations.

In the UK, Petersen kindly provided their Hi-MOD failsafe backstay insulators and Henri Lloyd warm clothing and foul-weather gear.


However, Jeanne admits: ‘I don’t really have sponsors as such, but many firms try to help me with repairs or on pricing. Supporters include Icom UK, Simrad, Eberspächer, The Rig Shop, Bruntons and Yachting Sports. Seldén UK have helped on their pricing of terminals needed for a total re-rig of
Nereida, as did Jeckells who have made a new main sail.

‘My bank account had gone almost to zilch, I’ve had to cash in a lot of my savings. This is a very expensive thing to do.’

Jeanne’s latest challenge is fundraising for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI):

Jeanne added: ‘I can’t believe the number of UK cruisers who don’t belong to the RNLI. They cruise these waters yet don’t join the organisation that will save them if it all goes wrong.’

Follow Jeanne’s progress

Jeanne Socrates at Royal Cape Yacht Club

Jeanne Socrates at Royal Cape Yacht Club

Jeanne learned to sail in her late 40s. She and her husband George commissioned the first Nereida in 1997 and later sailed from the Canaries across the Atlantic.

After George’s death from cancer, Jeanne decided to carry on sailing single-handed.

During the latest voyage, Jeanne will take an Iridium phone with free unlimited airtime and a tracking device, thanks to Global Marine Network.

Jeanne hopes to complete the challenge by June.

She said the messages of support she gets via her website spur her on: ‘I do feel the support I get, I know a lot of people are following me and many have become good friends.’

Follow her blogs at


As published in the November 2016 issue of PBO, on sale this Thursday, 6 October.