Working in Chatham

7 May 2018    Saline Bay, Mayreau
I spent the morning finishing off some more jobs in the bilge.  The automatic bilge pump has a pneumatic switch that has never worked properly, so I ripped it out and need to get a metal bracket made to fit a more modern rocker-type bilge switch, which I’ve already bought.  

Another damn charter catamaran anchored right in front of us and ignored Glenys’s pleasant complaints.  I’d had enough and went up to the bow and shouted insults at them at the top of my voice.  Everyone in the anchorage stopped and stared, so eventually, in embarrassment, they moved.  I think that the next time we come here, we’ll anchor further away from the beach - it’ll be less stress.

New Purchase

The Brazilians came back to us and asked what we would think is an acceptable price for the boat.  It’s a bit odd negotiating the price when they’ve not seen the boat, but we know that if we sell the boat in the USA, we’ll have to pay a broker 10%, so we’ve some flexibility if we sell directly.  

This enquiry for the boat has made us look at our future.  Do we really want to stop cruising?  It’s very pleasant sitting here in a beautiful bay in the Grenadines and I’ve been looking forward to having a final six month cruise up to the USA next year.   Do we really want to go back to the hustle and bustle of the UK and the very changeable weather?  What are we going to do in the winter?   We decided to sleep on it.

I was very excited in the afternoon because I was bidding on eBay to buy a second-hand Les Paul electric guitar and won.  The guitar was in Reading, so our son, Craig picked it up for me.  He sent me some pictures and it looks good.  I’m very keen to get my hands on it because although I’ve been playing an acoustic guitar for 5 years, I’ve never played an electric guitar.  Unfortunately, I'll have to wait for 2 months until we get back to the UK.

8 May 2018    Saline Bay to Chatham Bay, Union Island
After breakfast, we popped into the small supermarket and bought a few things.  We then upped anchor and had a lovely sail downwind to Chatham Bay on Union Island.  It’s a lovely big bay with a nice beach, but after our recent tussles with the charter catamarans, we anchored a long way from the beach at 12°36.22N 061°27.06W in 7 metres on a big patch of sand. 

Mayreau High Street

After much debate, we’ve decided to continue to try to sell the boat now and let fate decide on our future.  We wrote back to the Brazilians giving them a counter offer.   However, I made it very clear that this was our bottom price and there would have to be something majorly wrong for us to drop any lower.  I also disclosed a list of the maintenance jobs that I’ve been planning to do and said that they will have to accept the cost of these jobs if they buy the boat before I have time to do them.

We went snorkelling in afternoon, just to the south of Rapid Point.  The visibility wasn’t very good, but there are some interesting small walls on the rocks.  The reef is in good condition as you head south-west.

9 May 2018    Chatham Bay, Union Island
I woke early thinking about the logistics of selling the boat.  If the Brazilians come back and want to proceed how are we going to manage the mechanics of the legal documentation and money transfer?  They’re in Brazil; I want the money in a UK bank account; and the boat is in Grenada. Thankfully, we had a very good internet connection, so I was able to do some research on-line. 

Polishing Light Fittings

It turns out that the legal ownership of a yacht can be transferred by both parties signing a simple Bill of Sale, which then needs to be shown to the authorities in the country where the boat is to be registered.  Alba is registered with the British Small Ships Register (SSR), which is only available to British residents, so the Brazilians will have to register the boat in Brazil or somewhere else.

Logistically, the transfer of money from Brazil to the UK will take several days, so we might have to get a UK solicitor involved, so that they can hold the money in their UK client account while the final documentation is signed.  It’s a similar process to selling a house, but more complicated by the international aspect.  

While I was slaving over a hot laptop, Glenys started the process of systematically working her way through the boat, cleaning and polishing any chrome or brass fittings.  There are 55 chrome handles on the cupboard doors, which have to be removed, disassembled and then polished.  In addition, there are five swivel reading lamps that are looking very grubby plus a plethora of small stainless fittings, clasps and hooks.  By the end of the day, she’d done most of the front cabin - it’s going to be a long job.


10 May 2018    Chatham Bay, Union Island
Now that we’ve finished crossing oceans, there’s no great need for our Grab Bags, which contain lots of useful things if we ever have to abandon ship.  Glenys sorted through the contents, removing any tins of food and items that will perish - there were a number of bags of drinking water taken from old life rafts, some of which was 15 years old, so we threw them out.  We’re left with lots of handy things in two hard, floating containers.

Spring-cleaning the Aft Cabin

Glenys continued with her Sisyphean task of cleaning the chrome work, while I “spring-cleaned” the aft cabin - this included removing the mattresses to reveal the bilge under the aft berths.  After inspecting the steering gear and autopilot, I washed down all the bilge surfaces and cleaned everything that I could get my hands on. It took almost all day, but at least I know that everything is in good working order and clean.

11 May 2018    Chatham Bay, Union Island
Glenys is making progress with the chrome work and we now have shining handles on half of the cupboards and all five of the swivel light fittings are gleaming.

Alba has Whitlock cable steering.  The stainless steel wire and the conduits have not been touched since the boat was built in 2001, so they are over-due for replacement.   I systematically checked and measured all of the various components for the steering, which took hours because the conduits pass through several compartments and bulk heads.  Everything looks to be in good condition, so I just want to replace the wire and the conduits. 

In the late afternoon, I did a couple of electrical jobs and the day was over.  We need to get off the boat… 

12 May 2018    Chatham Bay, Union Island
We had another day of jobs.   Glenys continued with the chrome work - she’s nearly there.  I spent all day working on the engine.  In January, I had the sea water pump repaired by the Volvo dealer in Cape Town.  At the time, the shaft of the pump had a deep groove which damaged the seal, so they sent the shaft off to have it hard chromed and then ground back to size.

Some of the 55 cupboard latches

Unfortunately, the repair didn’t last very long.  I noticed a water leak when we were in Brazil and it’s been getting worse, so I took the pump off and found that there was a new groove in the shaft where the lip seal comes in contact.  It looks like the chrome wasn’t hard enough and there has been corrosion.  The groove was very rough, so I used a grinding stone in a Dremel to grind the groove smooth.  

This has reduced the diameter of the shaft, but I’m hoping that the seal will still make a good contact.  After rebuilding and replacing the pump, I ran the engine for 15 minutes without any sign of a leak, so fingers crossed.  I’m going to have to buy a new pump when I get to Trinidad, so the repair only has to last for a few hours of motoring.

I then had to sort out the mess caused by a couple of months of salt water running down the hot engine - a very corrosive combination.  Some of the steel components (brackets and bolts) were starting to rust, so I spent a few hours scraping and wire-brushing the rust away and then painted the bare steel with some green Hammerite paint. 

By the time that I’d finished tidying up, it was Miller Time.  We need to get off the boat…

13 May 2018    Chatham Bay, Union Island
It was a Sunday, so we had a day off.  After tying up our dinghy to a tree outside of the Sun Beach & Eat Restaurant, we walked along the beach to the north end and took a small path that goes steeply up the hill behind the Sunset Restaurant.  The path petered out into a scrubby grass hillside, but carrying on brought us up to a dirt road - turning right takes you to the road to Ashton.

Boozy Sunday Lunch

We turned left and after 25 metres took a path off to the right that took us up a grassy hillside to a gentle ridge where we had a nice view of the windward side of the island with the rest of the Grenadines in the distance.  Carrying on up the hillside, we kept right and took a very faint path that follows a rocky ridge up to the top of the hill over-looking the anchorage.

After returning to the dirt road, we continued to the Ashton Road.  There’s a junction with two roads and a steep dirt track that takes you down to the beach at Chatham Bay.  The two roads take you into the small town of Ashton.  We decided to take the left hand road, which gave us a pleasant 1.5 km walk to another junction, which overlooks Ashton.  

We chatted to two guys building a boat, who said that there wouldn’t be anywhere open for food  on a Sunday, so we headed right up the steep road to a col over-looking Chatham Bay.  After that it was a pleasant stroll down the road back to the junction we’d started at. 

We took the steep dirt track down to Sun Beach & Eat, where Vanessa cooked us a tasty lunch of grilled Mahi-mahi with provisions, which we washed down with a few cold beers.  

Back on the boat, we had a bit of a kip and watched a movie - a nice Sunday.