"I packed my grab bag with passport etc at one point and even thought of getting into my survival suit just to be ready for the worst but Nereida coped and rode the big seas well despite a lot of shaking and noise."
Solo sailor Jeanne Socrates has had to turn back from her latest record-breaking circumnavigation attempt after surviving a big ‘blow’.
Conditions turned ‘nasty’ six days into Jeanne’s latest non-stop, unassisted round-the-world challenge.
At the age of 74, the British yachtswoman is hoping to set another Guinness World Record – this time of being the world’s oldest person to achieve the feat.
But the challenge has had to be postponed due to damage sustained to the yacht last week. Jeanne said: ‘I’m having to return to Victoria after surviving a big ‘blow’.’
Jeanne set sail aboard her Najad 380 yacht Nereida on 19 October from Ogden breakwater start line, Victoria Outer Harbour, British Columbia, Canada.
Writing in her blog on 25 October 2016, day six of the voyage, Jeanne said she had used an Iridium phone to contact USCG and Bill, KI4MMZ about ‘the nasty conditions out here’.
She said: ‘Many thanks to Luis Soltero of Global Marine Network for providing me with the Redport Aurora and unlimited free air-time – a very generous gesture. It also enables me to get almost instant weather updates using PredictWind – handy when bad weather is around.Winds are over 50kt now with seas from SSE to match.
‘I just had to tie the wheel midships after noticing it has worked loose and we were being steered to starboard – the one thing I don’t want just now.
‘The JSD (Jordan series drogue) has, unfortunately, lost its shackle attachment to the boat’s port quarter so we are attached only by the starboard line.
‘The result of that is the boat lying off to starboard somewhat – hence my comment about the wheel needing to be centred firmly (if not held to port perhaps). With the increased wind, we’re making way at just over 3 knots, rather than the previous 2 knots.’
She added: ‘ Just now, I’m simply ‘hanging in there’ and hoping for the best….
‘Just finished with Pacific Seafarers’ Net – I’m lucky to have so many good friends out there but I’m sorry they have reason to be concerned about my situation out here.’
Jeanne said she was in contact with USCG every six hours overnight, ‘as well as Bill, KI4MMZ, in between for instant weather updates to supplement my own downloads’.
She said: ‘We discussed my options – once storm conditions had passed, head back to Victoria to get damage fixed or keep going if I could deal with the damage myself.’
She added: ‘I packed my grab bag with passport etc at one point, and even thought of getting into my survival suit, just to be ready for the worst, but Nereida coped and rode the big seas well, despite a lot of shaking and noise.
‘Lovely bright sunshine now – amazing how a bit of sunshine lifts the spirits!
‘Every time I think I can begin to get in the series drogue, the wind gets back up to around 30 kt again… Seeing a gust to 37 kt as I’m writing this…
‘Seas are still very big (about 15ft or more) and quite close together (8sec) so it’s very rolly – easy to get thrown around as we lurch suddenly.
‘I’m concerned about the JSD shackle situation – it’s a big one, intended to take a big strain when the series drogue is deployed, as now, and I suspect the pin must have gone missing somehow – despite being wired in place.
‘Once I’ve got the drogue back inboard, I’ll be able to see the problem more clearly. Have found some sailcloth which might be enough for the staysail repair that’s now badly needed after a loose section flogged in the strong wind.
‘Also found some Sunbrella canvas I could use as well if I need more cloth. Have needles and thread. Will take a lot of time and effort by hand but first I need to lower the sail and take it down below – definitely something to be done in lesser seas!’
On day nine, 27 October, after making the decision to turn back for repairs and to wait another weather window to undertake the circumnavigation, Jeanne said: ‘I’m feeling very tired, presumably the result of all my efforts yesterday over quite a few hours, retrieving the damaged drogue. I’m pushing a bit, to get into the Strait of Juan de Fuca – once there, the waters are quite protected and I’ll be able to relax on the final leg back to Victoria.
Jeanne arrived into Victoria late on the evening of Friday, 28 October.
She said: ‘Tomorrow morning, I’ll make for the fuel dock and then on to the Causeway Dock where I expect to meet up with several friends. For now, I’ll enjoy a lovely hot shower and a good meal – with wine!’
Jeanne’s to-do list following landfall:
- Organise drogue being sent to Victoria from Fedex office in Richmond, Surrey, B.C. (Customs Clearance needed) and install with new shackle replacing missing one on port quarter.
- Stow/flake JSD line into its bag. Buy new retrieval line and fix in place..
- Staysail repair.
- Short section of lifeline gone adrift – new clevis pin needed plus ring to hold in place – last ring clearly too flimsy since went missing in the big seas … Lucky not to have lost the length of wire, with its end fittings, overboard…
- Tidy up in head and in aft cabin and fix items there more firmly, so cannot move in big seas.
- Replace all valves in toilet system- not done before leaving (works fairly well but a precautionary measure…)
- Buy new sturdy bright torch (flashlight) (to replace one that went overboard…!)
- Organise main cabin better – too many items moved in big seas.
- Do laundry!
- Check sending of photos via XGate and Aurora… (From iPad seems good but not from computer or smartphone – sent photo of damaged JSD cones to website from iPad)
- Keep an eye out for a good weather window – I expect to be ready to re-start any time from Wed/Thurs onward… Totally weather-dependent.
You can show your support for Jeannes’ chosen charity and send her a message of support at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jeanne-Socrates1
Read Jeanne’s blog in full at: http://svnereida.com/blog
British sailor Jeanne Socrates admits that the cost of circumnavigation preparation has left her bank balance at ‘almost zero’.
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