Jeanne Socrates Pauses Her Record Attempt

A brief stop in a New Zealand port gives the British circumnavigator a chance to make repairs without derailing her attempt to be the oldest solo sailor to circumnavigate without assistance.

Jeanne Socrates
Jeanne Socrates hopes to be the oldest person to sail around the world unassisted.Courtesy of Jeanne Socrates

With her sights still fixed firmly on the big picture—becoming the oldest person to circumnavigate alone and unassisted—Jeanne Socrates has pulled over to the breakdown lane, so to speak, to repair at least some of the damage done to her Najad 380, Nerieda in a knockdown that occurred as she approached New Zealand.

At present, Nerieda is tied to a mooring in the port city of Timaru, on the east coast of New Zealand's South Island. Socrates can moor or anchor without it affecting her record attempt, so long as she does not touch land or seek assistance.

Nerieda was knocked flat in strong winds and tumultuous seas on May 15. The knockdown tore away the boat's solar panels, damaged the wind generator and left some electronics, including her chart plotter, inoperable. There was also considerable flooding, thanks to a lost Dorade vent.

Still, Socrates kept sailing, rounding the last great southern cape as she passed south of Stewart Island on May 23, an event she celebrated with a rum punch. Her voyage began last October from Victoria, British Columbia.

Socrates arrived in Timaru late last week. She has worked on repairing tears in the mainsail, replaced broken lazy jacks, and sorted through a number of electronics issues. Earlier, she found a spare set of wind generator blades and had replaced them while underway. She is also able to recharge the boat’s batteries using her generator.

According to her blog posts (svnereida.com), she is conserving power by using headlamps instead of house lights, and for now at least, she’s not replying to emails, though she continues to receive them. With stormy weather due to arrive at week’s end, she plans to stay put at least until early next week. After that, her next sighting of land will likely be French Polynesia or possibly Hawaii en route back to Victoria.