Thursday, September 9, 2010

Once Or Twice Around The World

Jeane and Jeanne

Probably you know about our visit earlier this week with Jeanne Socrates. She is the British woman who is circumnavigating the globe...alone. Her vessel is 38ft and was build in Sweden.  It is documented "Nereida," pronounced  Nuhr-eye-da; (beautiful sea-nymph mystical companions of Poseidon.)
What we learned about Jeanne "Djawne" (phonetically French) over lunch seemed almost mythical in proportion to my sense of reality. First of all, if she is as much as 5'3" tall, it's a stretch. Yet residing in and empowering this slight frame is a universty professor trained in mathematics and physics.
Several years ago she lost her husband and cruising companion to cancer. As devastating as the loss of the first mate to one's soul may be, it's my opinion that this woman possesses remarkable and enviable inner courage.
At one time I thought myself a "captain" on our 30' Willard Trawler, but my mere ventures cast no shadow in her presence. It is one thing to venture out of San Diego Bay on a course 270 (due west) and pretend to go to sea, it is quite another to set a course from the same port knowing that there will be no sighting of land until the islands of Hawaii slowly emerge above the horizon.
It's days alone, nights alone, companioned only by a beautiful and complicated vessel. I was amazed when we went below decks and the system control center caught my eye. There were a few switches and gauges on Third Angel but the navigation center on Nereida is surrounded by switches and gauges I know nothing about. My eyes took in the satellite phone, the GPS (global positioning system), computer, monitor, charts, and things I cannot name but only describe.
Jeanne does (actually, has to do alone at sea) all maintenance and goes to port when she is forced to; like when the engine failed after sea water somehow entered the cylinders.
I have thought a lot about Jeanne Socrates and have concluded that she is more sturdy and seaworthy  than am I.  Unashamedly, admittedly, I could not do what she has done and is doing. As I write from the edge of Phillips Lake there is a gentle breeze out of the South that leaves timid little ripples on the surface. There are no 30' swells that lift my vessel and let it surf down the face only to do  it again, and again, and again... There is no wind strong enough to blow the tops off the wind waves. Swells and wind waves are different animals and they don't always come from the same direction (called confused seas).
But Jeanne handles them, alone, for months on end...and this is not her first solo circumnavigation.
Interestingly, she has a son who is a dentist in England, so I asked her to give him my greetings; dentist-to-dentist. She is there this week to attend a boatshow.
Here are some photos we took in the Port Townsend drizzle of Jeanne, Nereida, and her visitors.
Enjoy! We certainly did. Pray for her safety. e.c.

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