A radio amateur helps a disabled sailboat to port

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09/15/2022
On September 7, 2022, Jeanne (Jan) Socrates, VE0JS/MM/KC2IOV, and her sailboat, SV Nereida, set sail from Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States. She was on her way to visit friends in San Francisco, California, but 2 days of 35 knot winds and storms rendered her sailboat inoperable and her onboard radio equipment slightly operational. Amateur operators in New Mexico, California and Canada, and members of the 7.155 group have heard his pleas for assistance.

Gil Gray, N2GG, was able to contact Socrates on 40 yards. “Her power was extremely low and she was unable to communicate on 14,300 MHz to notify the monitoring group on that frequency,” Gray said. “She needed help with wind and sea conditions, and tidal data for San Francisco Bay,” he added.

The low power output of HF radio made it very difficult to get a Q5 copy, which would usually 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 its situation and answer its navigation questions.

Grey; Jonathan Ayers, AI6NA, and Edwin E. Jenkins, K6EXY, are all experienced sailors. They were able to make periodic contact with Socrates and give him updated wind reports. Their last contact was Monday, September 12 at 11:00 a.m. (MSDT). At that time, Socrates was sailing with only the foresail on his 38-foot sloop. Fortunately, a “trolling wind” kept it moving without a mainsail. Approaching the Golden Gate Bridge, Socrates was able to use tidal information transmitted by amateur radio operators to make it safely to Berkeley Marina in San Francisco Bay.

“I wouldn’t call it a rescue,” Socrates said, “just good ham radio assistance—and I’m grateful for their help.”

Socrates is 81 years old and the oldest person to circumnavigate the globe unassisted. Once his sailboat has been repaired, he will sail again, not for records, but for the pleasure of sailing on the high seas.

His situation is one of three events in early September in which amateur radio was able to provide emergency aid.

More information about Socrates is available on her Facebook page.


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