Reflecting on Jean Socrates’ accomplishment

Damage From Knockdown

Oct 10, 2019

Damage from knockdown off New Zealand

Jeanne Socrates said her vessel was covered in tape and glue from the non-stop repairs she’s had to make since setting sail.

“The number of things that have gone wrong that have needed fixing, I’m absolutely staggered,” she said.

Early in her adventure, her mainsail ripped which took her five months to repair. She’s had problems with her solar panels. In her final day at sea, her steering cable was frayed and broken and barely holding together.

On Saturday, September 7, 2019 a flotilla of boats accompanied her during the final moments of the voyage and hundreds more people lining the breakwater at Ogden point leading to Victoria Harbour. The Victoria Harbor Fireboat then saluted Jeanne with a water cannon salute as she entered the harbour.

Fire Boat Welcomes JeanneFire Boat welcomes Jeanne to Victoria BC Harbour

Around-the-world sailor Jeanne Socrates achieves her goal of becoming the oldest person (age 77) to sail around the globe non-stop and unassisted.

Jeanne replaced record holder Minoru Saitoas, who completed the task in 2005 at the age of 71.

Socrates completed the 340-day solo circumnavigations in her trusty boat Nereida, named for the mythical nereids, handmaidens of Poseidon.

Jeanne Socrates Passing Race Rocks



Jeanne Socrates passing Race Rocks on her way to the finish line in Victoria

A retired mathematics professor who started sailing at 48, Socrates was looking to make a similar sail in 2016, but was twice curtailed by weather. She then had a bad fall from a ladder on her boat in 2017, suffering a broken neck, nine broken ribs and a concussion.

This was her third attempt at circumnavigating the world. In 2013, she became the oldest woman to single-handedly circumnavigate the world on a solo journey, which earned her a Guinness World Record.

During her record attempt she suffered a knockdown in which her boat went right over on its side, with the boat’s sail and mast in the water. The threat of a cyclone in the Indian Ocean delayed her for a week. Later in her voyage a pair of cyclones off Hawaii Eric and Flossie left her no choice but to drift around for a few days until they pasted. In Jeanne’s words “it was just really, really frustrating.”

Food on the trip could have been a big worry but with Socrates past experience she was well prepared with plenty of food. She had lots of canned fish with one of her favourite meals from a can being a mixture of chickpeas tomato and ham. “That was actually pretty tasty.”

On Tuesday September 3rd in the afternoon, Jeanne on her 38 foot sailboat Nereida were near Barkley Sound heading to the straits of Juan de Fuca on the final leg of her adventure.

“There’s a very light northerly wind, and she’s coming across it slowly, only doing two or three knots,” said John Green, past commodore of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Green has been tracking Socrates on her journey. John met up with Jeanne and at as she passed Race Rocks on his Farrier F9AX Trimaran, Sauterelle for the final leg of her voyage to Victoria. “It should be celebrated worldwide because this is monumental what she’s doing,” he told CHEK News on the following Monday.

“This is one of the greatest voyages of all time,” said her friend and fellow sailor Steve Illman. “A 77-year-old woman who has battled unbelievable hardships on this trip.”

Socrates used her trip to raise money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Britain.


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