An update from Jeanne Socrates, the solo circumnavigator I call 'the modern day Moitessier'

An update from Jeanne Socrates, the solo sailor I’ve dubbed the modern day Moitessier. Socrates, a 68-year-old retired mathematics lecturer, is attempting to sail non-stop round the world in Nereida, her Najad 380, and has reached the halfway point in the Southern Indian Ocean after rounding the Cape of Good Hope in February.

Socrates left Victoria, BC, in October on what is her third solo circumnavigation. On her first round the world voyage alone in 2007 she lost her earlier boat, a Najad 361, after 25,000 miles of sailing when she grounded north of Acapulco.

Undeterred, Socrates bought another Najad, the slightly larger 380, with the insurance money and decided to sail round the world again. This time she headed non-stop eastabout from the Canary Islands, However, Nereida was knocked down after rounding Cape Horn and Socrates was forced to divert to Ushuaia to make repairs before continuing to Cape Town and closing the circle of her outbound track.

So far, so good on this third attempt. She reports: ‘Sailing has been going well – the north or north-westerly wind has been a fairly consistently 10-20 knots for the past few days and we’ve mostly been on a nice reach, with the occasional excitement of having to deal with unexpectedly strong winds for a brief time, but nothing too critical. In fact, the Indian Southern Ocean has so far proved to be surprisingly benign, once the threat of Tropical Cyclone Haruna had receded!

‘I’ve enjoyed the many birds keeping me company. Many different albatrosses, both juvenile and adult, have come close to the boat as well as petrels, prions and shearwaters. I’m keeping a note of birds to provide some much-needed data. I’ve also enjoyed the many contacts I’ve made by radio with people in different countries – all of whom have been very supportive and encouraging.

‘Equipment failures and damage will slow me down in lighter conditions since I can no longer safely hoist a full mainsail and need to have it permanently reefed – but being mainly down to third reef in the normally strong conditions of the Southern Ocean is not a problem.

‘I have no working wind instruments either, despite my efforts at repairs. That is not causing a major problem when sailing, fortunately, although it would make life far simpler if they were working. All the many other repairs and fixes seem to be holding, except that my satellite telephone has remained obstinately broken so the SSB radio has become that much more important to me.

‘My present position is just over 400 miles NNW of the Kerguelen Islands and I hope to round Tasmania near the end of March.’

Another 12,000 miles lie in front of her before Jeanne Socrates can complete the ambition she’s worked and sailed for so hard. Fingers crossed it will be third time lucky for this extraordinary adventurer. 

Jeanne Socrates promotes her voyages to help raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and you can sponsor her at or read more at