Courageous Jeanne Socrates approaches one of the most dangerous sea areas in her bid for international seafaring stardom down there in the Southern Ocean, now south of West Australia, and closing on the notorious Great Australian Bight.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Closing in on extreme danger ... Singlehanded sailing superstar Jeanne Socrates approaches the very wild Great Ocean Bight, but her log snubs the area and its tempestuous dangers.
And yet as she closes in on this highly tempestuous and moody part of the great Southern Ocean, the 76-year-old ignores danger all around.

Instead she muses on problems with communications.

She apologised for not being able to keep some assigned schedules.

Gusting over 45 knots

At 11:30am yesterday, she added, ‘Just got back down below after lowering trysail and stowing/tying it down ready for deploying a drogue later today.

‘Winds are expected to be over 35 knots, gusting over 45 knots, from later today through to Tuesday, with six metre seas - seven for a time, as well. I decided to be safe, although I was really hoping to be able to keep going...'

I’ve been in almost exactly the same position in that horrendously risky part of a highly risky Southern Ocean and marvel that the likely danger doesn’t dominate her thoughts.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Nonchalante lady ... Jeanne back in harbour when her present very daring voyage was still a dream.
My first visit was in childhood when the family migrated after the war to New Zealand on board the good ship, Orontes.

Raging storm

She was a huge ship, 20,000 tons, yet the raging storm in the Great Australian Bight seemed – to the very wide eyes of a child – to be almost lain on her side.

My next time was during my singlehanded Cape Horner voyage in the rather eccentric schooner, Spirit of Pentax.

My book, Loner, (Hodder and Stoughton) records the mighty storm that the brave yacht endured.

Captain Fantastic lay at the mercy of this incredible show of nature gone out of control … we were like a bottle, floating, tossing, moving with the might, never resisting.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
As the schooner was shoved by mighty unseen shoulders, she went with the blow, there being no reverse curve, no counter forces to try to stop the assault.

We skidded down a wave, came upright, slid and skied forward, bashed, sliding, skidding now. Always nimbly going with the forces.

On board it was frightening, holding on as the surface of the sea seemed to disappear below us, but we were not shuddering under the blows.

I was excited by the scene, knowing I was part of this incredible exhibition for a one-man audience, yet I did not doubt we would survive this particular storm.

I could see her reaction to the monsters all around and I was filled with admiration for her courage and sheer genius.

Thanks very much for visiting the Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory

An earlier story about Jeanne

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