We just heard from Encinal Yacht Club staff commodore Bill Nork, who sent in a couple of photos and wrote in to say, “I had the distinct pleasure of having dinner with Jeanne Socrates at Mezzogiorno restaurant in Bucerias on Banderas Bay, Mexico, in May. Jeanne was leaving the next day, singlehanding her 38-ft sloop Nereida to French Polynesia and beyond. Jeanne is now 81, and holds the world record for being the oldest woman to circumnavigate nonstop, which she did at age 77. There were eight of us at dinner, but Jeanne was seated right next to me, so I got to ask her lots of questions. She is charming, funny and very down to earth.”
“I asked her if she had sailed around Cape Horn, and she answered with a twinkle, ‘Oh yes, three times.’ She added that the worst weather she ever encountered was off the coast of Oregon!”
“I inquired whether she wore a PFD when sailing, and she said, ‘Rarely.’
“We finished dinner at about 9:30 p.m. One of our party invited everyone back to his gorgeous Hylas 54 at Paradise Village Marina for a nightcap of some special black-label tequila. My wife and I asked Jeanne, with whom we were sharing a taxi, if she wanted to have some tequila or be dropped off at her boat, as we knew she was leaving on her long solo sail the next morning, and she said, without hesitation, ‘Oh, tequila; I’m a party girl!'”
We checked in with Jeanne’s blog to find that she did arrive in Anaho Bay, northeast of Nuku Hiva Island, on May 28 after a 25-day voyage from La Cruz, Mexico. Taiohae is, of course, the main harbor of the island of Nuku Hiva with its dramatic, high, steep-sided volcanic mountains, and is the capital of the Marquesas. Jeanne was then headed to the Tuamotus, Tahiti, Huahini, Raiatea and Taha’a. She wrote, “I could have easily spent more time in all the very different parts of French Polynesia — but my visa only gave me three months so, on September 4, I set sail for the Cook Islands and then Tonga.”
Her latest update has her heading out the very narrow entrance/exit from Aitutaki Harbor, where she managed some repairs including reef lines and a pesky alternator bracket. From there, she’s headed to Vava’u, Tonga, possibly via Beveridge Reef. With four solo circumnavigations and, at 81, Jeanne Socrates (Good Jibes podcast here) continues to amaze and inspire sailors while continuing to enjoy, party and share her passion for cruising with everyone she meets.