British yachtswoman Jeanne Socrates has repaired last month’s storm damage and embarked on her second attempt at becoming the oldest person to circumnavigate the world, non-stop and unassisted.
After being forced to return to British Columbia, Canada for repairs after surviving a ‘big blow’ six days into her voyage last month, the 74-year-old is on her way again aboard her 38ft sailing yacht Nereida.
SV Nereida was towed to the start line, Ogden Point, Victoria Outer Harbour, at 2350 UTC 1450 local time on Sunday, 13 November, with supporters turning out to give Jeanne a second send-off.
This time, Jeanne has been battling light winds and at times her tracker has shown her to be going backwards.
Jeanne’s friend Steve Pointon, who is keeping SV Nereida’s Facebook page updated, said: ‘Strong tides and light winds with no engine is just another challenge in this epic adventure as they make their way out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
‘They should be around Cape Flattery now though and heading south.’
This challenge marks Jeanne’s fourth solo circumnavigation and, she hopes, her second successful non-stop one – which would make her the world’s oldest person to achieve the feat.
She already holds the title for being the oldest woman to achieve a solo, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation.
Jeanne initially set sail aboard the Najad 380 yacht Nereida on 19 October, but on day six of the voyage, 25 October 2016, she used an Iridium phone to contact the US Coast Guard and report ‘nasty storm conditions’.
At one point she packed her grab bag to prepare for the worst, but Nereida ‘coped and rode the big seas well’, despite suffering storm damage. Jeanne attempted to continue but on 27 October, Jeanne made the decision to turn back for repairs and to await another weather window to undertake the circumnavigation.
Jeanne returned to Victoria late on the evening of Friday, 28 October and worked around the clock to get the repairs completed, while ‘impatiently waiting’ for a weather window.
In her latest blog, Jeanne said: ‘What a complete mixed bag of conditions over the first 24hrs… from becalmings to strong gusts, getting taken by strong tidal current towards Race Rocks, being headed by W wind and so having to tack a long way N-S for very little westward gain…. But just after dark tonight, we cleared Cape Flattery and started heading SW to get offshore in the Pacific Ocean.
‘It was a slow start around 4.30pm on Sunday over the harbour entrance start line: from Ogden Pt, where a group of enthusiastic supporters were waving and cheering from the breakwater as I started, to the green mark opposite.
‘Prince of Whales did their usual good job of towing Nereida, with a sealed engine, from the Causeway Dock and a second RIB kept us company until after I’d started my journey S.
‘Even the Victoria RCC boat was there, unexpectedly, to see me off – thanks, Simon! (I’d contacted them and the Coast Guards on Saturday to warn them that I might be drifting around in no wind overnight in the Strait sometime after my 4pm start.)’
She added: ‘I had to stay awake all night, with just a few catnaps – busy tending the sails, looking out for shipping, making sure we didn’t get too close to a shore and reacting to the many changes in wind direction and speed, always trying to keep heading W towards the exit.
‘With a lot of rain initially, I also felt very cold, having to sit around in very wet clothes, ready to jump up on deck if needed… Suddenly, soon after making for the US side from Race Rocks in light wind, the boat heeled well over as we were hit by a 25-knot squall. I rushed up and tied two reefs in the mainsail and reduced the big headsail (genoa)…. all to be released later when the wind died totally, yet again. The good news was that we managed to keep moving almost all the time, sometimes quite well.’
Jeanne is posting frequent Winlink/Shiptrak position reports.
You can follow Jeanne’s progress at http://svnereida.com/blog
Or you can message Jeanne and donate to her chosen charity, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jeanne-Socrates1
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