Jeanne Socrates, at 70 years old is the oldest woman to complete a non-stop solo circumnavigation. On 22 October 2012 she departed Victoria’s Inner Harbour and after 260 days at sea she tied up once again on July 8 in front of the Empress Hotel. Her mooring fees were waived by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
SV Nereida © Ken Pfister
Socrates accomplished her circumnavigation aboard her Najad 380, Nereida, named for the Nereids, handmaidens to Posiedon. Nereida is a sloop rigged Najad 380, hull number 82 built by Najadvarvet at Henån on the island of Orust in Sweden and launched in April 2009 at Hamble Point, England.
Two previous attempts at circumnavigation had been cut short. The first due to engine issues forcing her a stop in Cape Town, and the second after a knockdown near Cape Horn forced her to make repairs in Ushuaia, Argentina.
Socrates, a retired math teacher, took up sailing with her husband while she was in her late forties. In 1997 the couple commissioned their first Nereida then sailed her from the United Kingdom across the Atlantic. After her husband’s death from cancer in 2008 Jeanne decided to carry on sailing single-handed.
During her circumnavigation she had to climb the mast several times, lower herself upside down into Nereida’s wake to repair her rudder, and for the last several weeks of the voyage had to rely on ham radio buffs after losing her communications gear in heavy weather.
Socrates has used her sailing to raise funds to support the Marie Curie Cancer Care Foundation that provides home care to 40,000 terminally ill patients annually across the United Kingdom. She is a member of a member of the Ocean Cruising Club, and was honoured with the Duchess of Kent Trophy by the Cruising Association of Britain in 2011. Jeanne’s voyage has been recorded by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.