On Saturday afternoon, 77-year-old Jeanne Socrates was inching closer and closer to Ogden Point and a world record as she sailed at about 1.5 knots — or three to four kilometres per hour — in her sailboat, the S.V. Nereida. The solo-sailor was coming to the end of her second sail around the world.
Crowds had gathered on the Breakwater waiting for Socrates to sail by. At 4:15 p.m., Socrates sailed past Ogden Point and completed her trip around the world.
“I just bawled my eyes out,” said Pamela Bendall, Socrates’ friend of 20 years and fellow solo-sailor.
After 300 days at sea Socrates — who already broke the record for oldest woman to sail around the world at 70 — broke the world record for oldest person to sail around the world unassisted. After that, she was towed into the Inner Harbour to be cleared at customs and have her engine checked to confirm that she never used it as the rules included only using her sails.
Earlier in the day, her friends and fellow yacht club members decided they couldn’t stand to wait for her at the Inner Harbour, so many of them sailed out to join her in the home stretch.
Others went out to support her in a Prince of Wales whale-watching boat. Bendall and Gail Pohl chatted excitedly about Socrates’ return. They noted the bad weather their friend had braved and praised her for having so much patience.
She never stopped for more food or supplies, they commented. She ate her last cookie last week, Bendall noted. Pohl laughed and congratulated Socrates for her self control.
Bendall communicated with Socrates twice a day for the whole 300-day trip. Bendall had brought a carton of two per cent milk with her because Socrates wrote to her saying that’s what she was craving after 11 months of powdered milk in her coffee and cereal. Bendall bought milk last week as Socrates was predicting an earlier return, but it spoiled before she arrived so she had to go buy another.
At 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, the little Prince of Wales zodiac met up with the fleet of sailboats.
She sat on the side of her boat in a thin pink vest, the cold winds were no match for her.
Bendall called out asking how she was doing and told her she’d brought the milk.
“I’m doing great,” she shouted back.
Socrates has to spend a bit more time on her boat getting things in order before taking her first steps on land in 300 days.