It’s unusual for someone who’s attempting to set a nonstop solo circumnavigation record to make a pit stop along the way, but that’s just what Jeanne Socrates did late last week. Socrates, who set off from Victoria, BC, on October 22 on her third attempt at a nonstop trip around, was off the Oregon coast just a few days after her departure when she noticed that her speed had gone from a solid six knots to three. She popped her head up to find that her liferaft had slid right out of its mount and into the sea, instantly inflating and acting as a very efficient drogue. She had little choice but to cut it free.
After notifying the Coast Guard of the unmanned liferaft, she contacted the World Speed Sailing Record Council — the organization that will ratify her record — for advice. She had no interest in continuing such an arduous journey without a such an important piece of emergency equipment but she didn’t want to abandon her attempt, especially so soon after the start. Thankfully the WSSRC agreed and gave her explicit instructions on how she could and could not effect the replacement of the raft. A boat could tie up to her and pass her the equipment but no tools could be offered and no one could come aboard.
In the wee hours of Thursday morning, Socrates took advantage of a flood tide to take a buoy generously offered by Sausalito YC. Sausalito diver Tim Sell had set up a can’t-miss retrieval system so she could not only spot it in the dark, but could easily pull it aboard. Then this writer, her husband, Sal Sanchez of Sal’s Inflatables and Sell converged on Socrates’ Najad 380 Nereida on Friday afternoon to hand off her new raft.
It’s difficult enough mounting a raft on a stern rail while at anchor but when a 69-year-old woman who weighs about as much as a wet Yorkie must do so completely unassisted, folks get creative. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick but eventually Socrates — with lots of advice from the boys — was able to fit the raft into its mount and secure it.
Socrates had hoped to take advantage of the ebb tide that night but light winds forced her to anchor just outside Richardson Bay for the weekend. Several Bay Area sailors dropped by to say hello, which cheered her immensely. "Two offered bottles of wine, which I couldn’t accept, unfortunately, but the face-to-face chats were nice because they were the last I’ll have before I get back," she said.
At last word, Socrates weighed anchor this morning. Once out the Gate, she’ll turn left and chart a very long course for Victoria. Follow her trip at www.svnereida.com.
"The Northern California Offshore Racing Council Safety Committee has posted a draft of the minimum equipment requirements for offshore races, and we’re seeking public comment," writes OYRA President and Safety Committee member Andy Newell. For those who were living under a rock this year, the NORCAL ORC was established after the tragic Full Crew Farallones Race in April when five out of eight crewmembers aboard the Sydney 38 Low Speed Chase perished when the boat went up on Southeast Farallon Island. The council has been tasked with developing and implementing standard race requirements for all offshore races that start from San Francisco Bay, and they would like to hear your feedback by November 16.
After a splendid beach party Friday on an uninhabited section of Turtle Bay, the fleet set sail at 8 a.m. Saturday on Leg Two, a 240-mile run to remote Bahia Santa Maria. Although winds were initially under 10 knots, there was enough pressure for most boats to fly their chutes throughout the morning, and by mid-afternoon the breeze built to as much as 15 knots, and didn’t back off until nearly midnight. Skies cleared mid-morning, yielding brilliant sun-tanning weather.
The arrival of the Ha-Ha fleet is by far the biggest event that touches the otherwise sleepy fishing village of Turtle Bay, so the locals are always thrilled to mix and mingle with fleet members — or just observe their antics in the restaurants, on the beach and on the baseball field. As always, an enormous potluck was organized during the party, and a number of the fleet’s more fortunate fishermen brought in an abundance of tuna, dorado and wahoo to barbecue and share. Local entrepreneurs turned out to sell ice-cold beer and homemade tacos.
By the time you read this, many boats will have arrived at spectacularly unspoiled Bahia Santa Maria, where the fleet will lay over for two days before the Wednesday start of Leg Three — the 180-mile final leg to Cabo San Lucas.
Monday at BSM is always dedicated to catching up on sleep, hiking to the top of the sheltering hillsides, and beach combing on the seemingly endless stretches of white sand that encircle the bay.