On September 7, 2022, Jeanne (Jan) Socrates, VE0JS/MM / KC2IOV, and her sailboat, the SV Nereida, set sail from Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of the contiguous US. She was on her way to visit friends in San Francisco, California, but 2 days of 35 knot winds and storms left her sailboat disabled and her onboard radio equipment marginally operational. Amateur operators in New Mexico, California, and Canada, and members of Group 7.155 heard her requests for assistance.
Gil Gray, N2GG, was able to contact Socrates on 40 meters. “Her power was extremely low, and she was unable to communicate on 14.300 MHz to notify the monitoring group on that frequency,” said Gray. “She needed help with wind and sea conditions, and tidal data for San Francisco Bay,” he added.
Low-power output on the HF radio made it very difficult to get Q5 copy, which would typically be Q2 or Q3. With the help of several software-defined radio (SDR) operators in Utah, California, and Maui, Hawaii, they were able to glean enough copy to understand her situation and answer questions for her navigation.
Gray; Jonathan Ayers, AI6NA, and Edwin E. Jenkins, K6EXY, are all experienced sailors. They were able to make periodic contact with Socrates and give her updated wind reports. Their last contact was on Monday, September 12, at 11:00 AM (MSDT). By this time, Socrates was sailing with only the forward sail on her 38-foot sloop. Fortunately, a “following wind” kept her moving without a mainsail. As she approached the Golden Gate Bridge, Socrates was able to use the tidal information passed on by amateur radio operators to make it safely to Berkeley Marina in San Francisco Bay.
“I wouldn’t call it a rescue,” said Socrates, “just good amateur radio assistance — and I’m grateful for their help.”
Socrates is 81 years old and the oldest person to have ever sailed around the world unassisted. Once her sailboat is repaired, she will sail again, not for records, but for the enjoyment of sailing the high seas.
Her situation is one of three events in early September in which amateur radio was able to provide emergency assistance.
More information about Socrates is available on her Facebook page.