Five years ago, British septuagenarian Jeanne Socrates sailed into the history books as the oldest woman to ever circumvent the globe solo and without stopping.
Now, at 81 years old, she’s taken to the high seas once again for a fifth trip around the world – and she just docked up in Aotearoa.
Socrates spent her last birthday aboard her 12-metre yacht, but told 1News there’s nowhere else she would rather be.
“I try not to do the numbers,” she said of her age, “I have to say, I’m quite impressed by the idea of ‘eighty-something’.
“I think that’s a big number but while my body’s fit and healthy, I just want to keep going.”
Her latest journey across the Pacific began nine months ago. This time around, her goal is to keep her voyage at a leisurely pace.
“This trip is so different from what I’ve been doing over the last 10, 15 years because I’m actually back into ‘cruising mode’, as opposed to trying to get around the world without stopping anywhere.”
Socrates began her journey nine months ago, after departing from Mexico and stopping in the Pacific Islands, where she seized an opportunity to swim with whales in Tonga.
“It’s just wonderful to be that close to them and see these little calves by the mum. It’s wonderful,” she gleefully recalled.
Her plan is to stay in New Zealand until May to avoid the hurricane season, but it’s anyone’s guess when this trip around the world will end.
“To be down in the southern ocean, in those big seas with the albatrosses and the petrels, just that’s it for company, thousands of miles from land … there’s something really awe-inspiring about that,” she said.
Though she’s going it alone most of the time, Socrates said the life of a sailor isn’t as lonely as it seems.
“You end up somewhere and you make new friends and you meet up with old friends – that’s the boating life.”