THEY say third time is the charm and that was definitely the case for intrepid pensioner Jeanne Socrates who broke a world record earlier this month.
The 70-year-old from Ealing is now the oldest woman in the world to sail non-stop around the world unassisted after two failed attempts.
After nearly nine months crossing the most dangerous stretches of open water in the world, Mrs Socrates is now back on dry land after getting back safely to her starting point of Victoria, British Columbia at around 2am on July 8.
Mrs Socrates, a grandmother of three said: “I feel great. Lots of friendly people have been coming by to see me here or emailing. I got a lovely welcome on arrival, even though it was 2.20am.
“It was eight and a half months of very mixed sailing and conditions, from the usual Southern Ocean strong weather, with even stronger stuff occasionally.
“There were also way more periods of calm weather than I’ve experienced in my two previous Southern Ocean crossings, which is why it took a lot longer than I’d expected as originally I’d hoped for something like seven months sailing time.”
Although she was by herself during the entirety of her trip, Mrs Socrates said she never felt isolated.
She said: “I got lots of emails and also had frequent radio contact with people in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada, all of whom were very supportive and friendly.
“The best moments were frequent, like being far across the Southern Ocean with lots of birds around, albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, prions, all getting uplift off the big swell.
“The worst moments were definitely when I had to climb the mast on my way down towards Cape Horn. It was really tough – I had to dig deep to force myself to get to the top, despite the motion of the boat trying to fling me off the mast frequently.
“I would be very tired and covered in deep blisters on my fingers and bruising on my arms from grabbing hand-holds and clinging on for dear life.”
“It feels good to know I’ve finally managed to achieve the non-stop round-the-world trip after my previous two unsuccessful attempts and can cross it off the list and relax, with no deadlines in sight.”
Mrs Socrates said she hopes to be back in Ealing soon, but only for a short while as she has plenty of work to do on her vessel, Nereida.
“I can’t afford to be away from her for too long at present. I have no plans for any particular celebration on my return but it will be good to see family and friends,” she said.
Despite making history on the waves, she has no plans to stop sailing, adding: “I’m planning to get the boat repaired, although that will take quite a time because there’s so much to do, and I’m looking forward to organising Nereida for plenty of relaxed cruising in warm places over the next few years.”
She added she is also busy collecting donations for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
You can find out more at her website www.svnereida.com.