On Monday, 11th February, just before midday, Jeanne Socrates, continuing in her quest to be the first American woman to sail a solo nonstop around the world, passed the Cape of Good Hope.
From the press release: Sailing east in the Southern Ocean, some 600 miles off to the south of Africa …..and she then headed on towards the Indian Ocean after a successful 35-day crossing of the South Atlantic from Cape Horn, as part of her 3rd attempt at a nonstop, unassisted, solo circumnavigation. This is her third crossing of the Southern Ocean towards Australia and New Zealand.
Having rounded Cape Horn early in February, the next Great Cape on the list after Good Hope will be Cape Leeuwin, south of Perth in W. Australia, which she will also pass well south at the start of her crossing of the Great Australian Bight towards Tasmania. But today (at 1050 GMT, Tuesday 12th Feb), she also passed Cape Agulhas (the southernmost point in S.Africa) and so passed from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean section of the Southern Ocean….
Onboard gear problems (anything screwed or bolted tries to come undone with the constant motion!) and instrument problems have kept her busy at times – she stlll has no wind information on display below, the electronic compass info disappeared recently (but she fixed that, so it's back now) and the rudder reference unit, part of the autopilot set-up, also stopped working some while back – she's still working on a possible way to get that back, having fixed it once already… In the meantime, the windsteering (Hydrovane) is doing an excellent job and she can still use the eletronic autopilot whenever she feels the need to – which is not often!! Work on wiring problems is virtually impossible when the boat is banging about and heeled over in big seas – especially when, as today, 'Nereida' is beating into rough seas, close hauled, trying to sail east against the NE 20 knot wind…
So she's still sailing 'by the seat of her pants', judging the wind strength according to the traditional Beaufort Scale and dealing with her sails according to the boat's behaviour: "If we're heeling too much, it's time to reef down – simple!" Telling the wind direction is no problem in daylight -"I can read the ripples on the water – not a problem! Having regular weather forecasts is important – If I'm expecting a 'blow', I can sail defensively and if a typical, strong Southern Ocean Cold Front is expected to pass over, I gybe early.. Windsteering is useful because the boat will follow the wind around as it veers or backs – that's very important to me, at times!"
While underway, the birds of the Southern Ocean have given delight and interest with their constant company. Not unusually, at dawn this morning, along with several different petrels and a pair of Great shearwaters, a Great albatross passed close by – they're magnificent creatures and an awesome sight! She's sending a note of birds seen in different places for adding to our knowledge of, and statistical information on, the seabirds of the deep oceans, in an effort to play a small part in their conservation – so many are still at risk from poor fishing methods used unnecessarily by certain fishing vessels. It would be tragic if we allowed these fabulous birds to become extinct.
She's looking forward to completing her circumnavigation in early June. In the meantime, it's always great to receive supportive emails from so many friends and other people (the Winlink team have been extremely helpful with radio contact for emailing) and it's also been good to be able to speak over the radio regularly to a variety of people when in range – especially now that her satphone is no longer working.
Daily news reports (with occasional photos) and positions while on passage are being posted to: www.svnereida.com