Brit round-the-world sailor Jeanne Socrates has certainly taken the wind from my sails. I can hardly believe the good 76-year-old has found the astonishing courage and determination to leave port to return to the sea.
|Back to the cruel sea ... Jeanne ignores temptation and returns to the sea, not expecting to be on land again until August.|
Just picture the scene: The lady, old enough – er, mature enough – to be a great grandmother, has been sailing alone and unaided in the world's most treacherous seas.
This danger-filled outing has not stretched over a long weekend, nor for a short holiday, but for the last 240 days, since 3rd October.
|Extraordinary news ... Yachting Monthly announces that courageous Jeanne Socrates has returned to the South Pacific.|
Ultra-hospitable locals wanted to ease her bruises, give her a well-deserved rest, and repair the storm-damaged yacht for her.
And yet the lady declined the invitations because it would mar her sailing round-the-world record attempt.
Most people nearby waited for her to give up the sea-going 'madness'. I doubt that anyone felt she could - or should - return to the watery Hell she has endured for the last 34 weeks or so.
Heaven knows how many cakes were baked locally for the moment she called it a day.
Instead, she has sailed out of the harbour and is already well out to sea.
Such determination, such courage, and yet a search of the web reveals that the only news about her Herculean courage is in the online Yachting Monthly.
How astounding that the New Zealand press and the world's dailies missed out on the news. Their judgement surprises this former Fleet Street journalist.
As a professional yachtmaster and singlehanded Cape Horner, too, I believe that such a display of strength of character, determination, and courage, by a 76-year-old to leave the safe haven, and return to the oceans in the southern winter, must astound thinking humans.
To be out there, hundreds and hundreds of miles from anyone else, then for a few days to be moored so close to enormous hospitality, and yet to return to the hostility, puts her among the most courageous and single-minded of our species, and our sailing nation.
She certainly deserves a prime place in the Queen's birthday honours – a knighthood, I'd say, for this extremely brave Brit.
Katy Stickland scoops the world's media in the online Yachting Monthly.
She reports that Jeanne plans to sail out to about 160° W, then north-east towards Tahiti, onto Hawaii, then due north to pass around the North Pacific High, and to Cape Flattery at the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca, leading to her home port of Victoria, British Columbia.
Jeanne hopes to complete her circumnavigation by the beginning of August.
Katy Stickland reveals that this is Jeanne's fourth attempt at the record to become the oldest person to sail around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted.
Yachting Monthly's report