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January 7, 2013

Socrates Rounding Cape Horn

Jeanne Socrates left Victoria in October on a nonstop solo circumnavigation. She’s finding the Southern Ocean to be much tamer than her last time around.

© Ken Pfister

Two years ago today we reported that Jeanne Socrates’ second attempt at sailing nonstop around the world came to an end when she suffered a brutal knockdown as she approached Cape Horn. The knockdown broke her boom, took out her electronics and damaged her dodger. She put into Port Williams after rounding the Horn a couple days later, then sailed on to Cape Town, South Africa, where she spent nearly a year repairing and upgrading her Najad 380 Nereida.

Socrates started her third and final attempt at the feat — if successful, she’ll also set a couple records — on October 22 from Victoria, B.C., and she’s currently in the process of rounding Cape Horn. According to her blog and an email from her, this rounding is much different from the last. "The sea is so much calmer, it feels weird. This is not the Southern Ocean I’m familiar with! The long rounded swell is down to just 3 to 4 meters," she wrote in last night’s update. She’d spent the day drifting with the current because the wind had disappeared, but she should officially round the fabled landmark in the next day or so.

The middle pack of Vendée skippers are also rounding the Horn, but Nereida should be far enough south to avoid any issues.

© Vendée Globe / Nereida

Meanwhile, the bulk of the Vendée Globe fleet are also approaching the Horn. "The Vendée Globe Race Management in Paris are helping by sending me their ice reports, and I send them my position to pass on to the skippers," she noted in an email. "We’re all on AIS so should ‘see’ each other." In comparing their positions and headings, it doesn’t appear any of them will approach too closely to the much-slower moving Nereida.

You can follow Socrates’ trip around the world at

Vendée Update

Wonder if Mike Golding on Gamesa, currently in sixth place, found a pot of gold at the end of this Southern Ocean rainbow.

© Mike Golding / Gamesa

Speaking of the Vendée Globe . . . 

The International Jury that had previously disqualified Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) for accepting outside assistance and tying up to a Russian research vessel agreed to reopen the case after receiving the testimony of the skipper of the Russian ship. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, the very next day, Stamm reported colliding with a UFO (unidentified floating object) that took out one of his hydrogenerators and severely damaged the other. The very same hydrogenerators that forced him to seek shelter at the Auckland Islands to repair, which is where he dragged and tied to the Russian ship. The irony is beyond cruel.

Consequently Stamm has turned off all but the most essential electronics to reserve as much power as possible. His team is working on a way to deliver fuel to the skipper to allow him to finish the race. 

The leaders aren’t the only ones match racing to the finish. Arnaud Boissieres (Akena Verandas) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) also have been in sight of each other, after racing halfway around the world. Amazing!

© Arnaud Boissieres / Akena Verandas

Elsewhere in the fleet, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) — currently in third place — reported that a soft shackle that attached the forestay to the deck had let loose. It appears there was no other damage. He immediately turned downwind and started repairs.

The leaders — François Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) — are struggling with slow upwind progress, a far cry from the record speeds they were seeing in the Southern Ocean. Farther back, the second ‘pack’ of five boats are on their approach to Cape Horn (see above article). Alessandro di Benedetto (Team Plastique) is still at the back of the fleet, approaching the race’s second to last ice gate.

“Brrr!” says Alessandro di Benedetto.

© Alessandro di Benedetto / Team Plastique

Stay tuned to for lots of news every day, or ‘Lectronic for the occasional update.

The Souvenir That Lasts a Lifetime

As you might imagine, Tucker Bradford of the San Francisco-based Convivia put a lot of thought into his shoulder tatt, which tells a story.

©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

All along the West Coast of the Americas, soon-to-be westbound cruisers are upgrading their boats, stocking up on spare parts, and boning up on skills like offshore navigation, weather-reading, and heavy-weather sailing techniques. Few, we’d guess, spend much time thinking about tattoos. But they ought to.

Although they may not realize it now, once each year’s contingent of Pacific Puddle Jumpers arrives in the islands of French Polynesia, many follow the lead of thousands of sailors who’ve gone before them in getting the one souvenir that lasts a lifetime: a tattoo. Even if they would never consider adorning their skin with graphic patterns back home, once immersed into the centuries-old Polynesian culture, many cruisers become enchanted by the ancestral significance of various symbols and designs, and opt in to carrying a bit of South Seas culture with them as they travel onward. After all, in Polynesia tattoos are believed to be imbued with a magical and protective significance.

The Pandion crew also opted for elaborate designs that have symbols within symbols.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As you can see by the designs chosen by some recent Puddle Jumpers, individual tattoos can be quite elaborate, often borrowing ancient motifs and adding modern nuances to them. Over the years, we’ve collected some interesting photos of cruiser tats, but just for fun we thought we’d solicit more. So if you’ve gotten inked while cruising the South Pacific, please email us an image of your tat. If we receive enough of them we’ll post a special photo gallery online. (By the way, reliable sources estimate that up to 40% of adults between 26 and 40 now have a tattoo.)

Banded around the bicep, this seemingly simple tattoo includes a variety of age-old symbols.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC



BREAKING NEWS: Ship Sideswipes Bay Bridge

As we post today’s articles, the first reports are trickling in regarding a cargo vessel striking the Bay Bridge in foggy conditions sometime during the late morning. According to a CalTrans spokesman, it simply "sideswiped" a bridge tower, or its protective "fender," leaving no significant damage to the structure or the vessel — at least as far as they know thus far. Of course, the last time we recall a commercial vessel striking that essential traffic artery (the Cosco Busan in 2007), damage was initially downplayed, although more than 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel ultimately spilled into the Bay.

The bridge is currently open and investigators have begun a thorough assessment. 

Bernard Stamm says he will not stop reaching for his goal to finally finish the Vendée Globe, even after being disqualified earlier this week.
We’re thrilled to report that our Tahitian partners at the yacht agency CMA-CGM will again be offering a special bond exemption deal this season to all officially registered Pacific Puddle Jumpers.