Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

Archive for November, 2019

Grenada – for the 3rd time

I returned to Grenada on the 20th October feeling refreshed after 4 months away from the boat. It had been great to stay with Anny and Carl in Canada and help them with some DIY and gardening work, a beautiful part of the world for sure. Then I had travelled on to Switzerland to stay with two of my oldest mates and finally enjoyed some family time in Spain. I had been doing some writing and was chuffed to have an article published in Yachting Monthly magazine about my circumnavigation. While I was away from Fathom it had been definitely worth paying for a monthly check on the boat with the anti-humidity crystals being replaced and the bilges and battery voltage monitored. The only surprise once I removed the washboards and stepped down into the cabin was a mummified gheko on the chart table seat. It was all a bit of a mess down below but thankfully minimal mould and dampness. Good to be back home!


The heat and humidity of the tropics at the end of the wet season however was a shock to the system and living on the boat in the yard made it even worse. Cabin temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius. It was so hot that I could only do jobs outside until about 10am. To make matters worse a few blisters on my feet got infected so I ended up limping around for a week or so. A trip to the doctors for some antibiotic cream soon sorted things out. By far the worst thing of all was the lack of running water at the boatyard. Not only was there no water pressure from the hose next to the boat for over 10 days there was no water coming out of the showers. Covered in antifouling dust and sweat after sanding the bottom of the hull it wasn’t even possible to have wash off and despite this the yard still insisted on charging the 6 US dollar per day amenities charge. Won’t be taking a boat back there again..

I don’t want to give the impression it was all doom and gloom during the two and a half weeks I spent at the yard. There were some familiar faces there including Seb from Denmark who I had first met on my travels through the South Pacific in 2017 and always good company to share a beer or two with. Jenny and Greg on ‘Nebula’ made a few appearances and it was good to see Mike and Marie on ‘Roke’ again and Mike and Lizzie from the Isle of Wight. The boatyard at Clarke’s Court is quite remote so I took the shopping bus once or twice a week to stock up on provisions and escaped to the beach at Grand Anse a few times for a swim. Seb and I decided to join the HASH one weekend, which is an enthusiastic group of ‘drinkers with a running problem’. The event is held weekly with a different course and involves a few kilometers of walking or running through the bush and is hard work for the unfit. The party at the end nullifies all the calories burnt but still feels good to have got a sweat on. During this time I also enjoyed the weekly pool championship and took part in a racing regatta in J24’s. I have really missed competitive sailing so this was great fun. I skippered a team comprising of Seb, his Danish mate Allan and Don, an American sailor, also working on his boat in the boatyard. After coming 3rd in the first race we won the next 3 races but were denied the championship because another boat thought we had broken a racing rule at a mark rounding and the organiser had thrown us out without even asking for our story. In fact we were the right of way boat but as outsiders they clearly didn’t want us to win so there was no point making a fuss.


By the beginning of November, Fathom was ready to splash. I had worked hard to make sure she was shipshape and she was looking fantastic with polished and waxed topsides and a freshly painted blue stripe. I had also replaced the dripless stern seal as a safety measure and given the engine an overhaul. The bottom had been sanded smooth with a barrier coat and 3 coats of antifoul. I had applied PropSpeed to the propeller which despite being pricey is the only product I have found that works. A great feeling to be floating again and to get away away from the hot, dusty and mosquito ridden boatyard. Some sad news was that Ian, an English sailor, who I had met with his sister before hauling the boat out in June had suddenly died from a heart attack. They were the nice neighbours on the dock that had made me a Gin & Tonic while I was struggling in the bilge and I had shared a few anchorages with them earlier in the year. Another reminder that you don’t know when your time is up and to make the most of life when you can.


Before leaving Grenada I finally managed to meet Dustin, another solo sailor who is attempting to become the first double amputee to sail alone around the world. We had sailed the same path since Madagascar but always managed to miss each other. Great to finally cross paths and we would end up sharing a few adventures over the following few months. I was all ready to head off when I noticed some water building up in the engine tray and it turned out to be a leaking lip seal on the engine water pump. Thankfully a new one could be sourced locally and it was relatively easy to replace. Grenada is a great island for sure with a thriving yachting community but not somewhere I would want to get stuck too long so was happy to be moving on. It was an enjoyable sail up to to Tyrell Bay at Carricou in mid November where I dropped the hook and started to make some plans for the next months. But as all cruising sailors know, making plans is dangerous. They should be written in the sand at low tide..

Posted on 20 Nov in: Caribbean

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