Read Jeanne Socrates' blog from her circumnavigating yacht and you might feel there's more danger for us crossing the high street than for that courageous lady mariner – aged 76 – so far from home in the South Pacific.
|Out in the wide blue yonder ... Singlehander Jeanne Socrates' internet chart shows that the brave lady is very far from anywhere - except danger.|
She lets us share her notes in the ship's log.
'Went rushing up on deck on hearing the horrid noise of the boom crashing around and the sails slatting... The wind had totally died … '
She makes the necessary adjustment and all is ship-shape. But at any time - and all the time - the greatest threat to Jeanne's health and her life is just inches away.
|Happy days before ... Singlehander Jeanne Socrates is treated well by yacht clubs whose yachtsmen admire such an intrepid soul, able to sail vast distances alone, and seemingly without fear of the closeness of the end.|
The need for a snooze is often mentioned.
Sailing is a very physical sport, so tucking in features.
'More than ready for some food now - just needs heating up - some chilli con carne plus some extra sweetcorn with a mug of soup before and a small chocolate brownie afterwards.'
|She has only to trip on deck, take a step in the wrong direction, even faint, and Ms Socrates will be no more ...|
That's just about nine months on her own. And for all the chat about this task and that minor repair, and napping and feasting, we don't read of her relief that she's alive still.
But please don't be fooled. She has only to trip on deck, take a step in the wrong direction, even faint, of course, and Ms Socrates will be no more, not that the end is likely to be peaceful nor quick.
I've not heard of an electronic gadget that could sense the calamity, and stop the yacht, lower the sails.
A very real danger
And yet it is an ever-present risk and a very real danger of solo sailing. Fall, and you could be floating in the water watching your beautiful vessel sailing away.
Many short-handed sailors use a harness to counter the risk by clipping on.
It's never been a favourite with me in my thousands of miles of singlehanded voyaging. Oddly the one time I did use one was during a South Atlantic storm. And it almost, just about, caused my death.
The storm overwhelmed the yacht, Homeward Bound 2. She turned over, sank several meters down, trapping me in the upside down rigging. I breathed seawater and assumed the end must be close.
Then, quite by accident, I discovered that the harness was holding me under.
As I tell in Sailing to Purgatory, because I wouldn't usually use one, I had forgotten that I had clipped it to the mast to counter blows from huge waves pummelling the yacht.
The yacht was now upside down in the ocean, quite a few meters below the surface.
I remembered, unclicked and surfaced, very relieved. The drama was far from over, but at least I was breathing fresh if rather drenched air again, and very grateful for it.