Marathon is Back in the Water

Marathon is Back in the Water

Winter Yard Work

Yacht Marathon at Medina YardYacht Marathon is back in the water after her winter refit. Winter is over at last and I’ve spent the last 7 months doing a major refit on my boat to make her ready for my World Challenge. Marathon was lifted out in September of 2014 and the first thing was to make a job list of the work that needed to be done.

The hull and keel bolts were the number one priority. Also the engine and P-bracket which was moving side to side because there was no scuttle bearing in the shaft. However, the first job was to have the hull sandblasted so we could see the damage done by the osmosis. After this, me and my son Anthony removed the keel bolts which took about three weeks of very hard work. The keel was then removed from the hull so that the keel bolts could be examined. Luckily the bolts were in first class condition, therefore we covered them with copper slip before remarrying the keel to the hull. The keel is crucial to keeping the boat upright: so a great deal of care and time was taken to make sure this job was done properly.

The next job was tackling the engine. This involved replacing all the engine mounts, servicing the engine, changing the oil filter and fan belts. My good friend Reg White, stripped out the bolts on the P-bracket, removing the shaft and propeller. These received a thorough clean and a good application of grease before being fitted with new anodes to prevent corrosion.

Over the years moisture has penetrated between the outer gelcoat and the fibre glass, causing the hull to blister. This is a condition known as osmosis. To rectify this, the hull had to be drilled for all signs of osmosis and left to dry out over the next 5 months. When satisfied that the osmosis had been fixed, the hull was filled and sanded.  I then applied 6 coats of Copper Coat which now acts as a gelcoat as well as a long lasting antifoul, giving the boat a nice smooth underwater profile.

The standing rigging holds the mast upright and comes under an incredible amount of pressure since it resists the power of the wind and sails. Like the keel, the mast and rigging are crucial to the integrity and safety of the skipper and the boat. The mast was removed whilst the riggers replaced all of the rigging. Unfortunately the job has taken them over 5 months so far, since the suppliers in America have had financial problems and ceased production. However they are now back at work and catching up with the back log of orders. The mast is now back up but there is still a bit of work to do on the rigging like setting the tension. But this is now near to completion at last.

I’m still working hard on the electrics, I’ve started to remove the old redundant equipment and replace it with new. I’ve just fitted a new Simrad NSS12 chartplotter with multi-function display. This will show me the boat and wind speed, depth, log and a G4 Radar and of course the charts. Unfortunately I now seem to have a problem with the radar which is now positioned up the mast (just my luck).

Taking Marathon To Her New Home

Yacht Marathon being cradles back into the water after her winter refitWith all the under water work completed, Marathon was reunited with the sea on Monday afternoon on the 23/3/2015. She touched and embraced the River Medina, her new home in Cowes. Again Reg was a great help, he left work early to help me take Marathon back to her pontoon.

The engine started fine and as soon as Marathon was in the water we checked all the new skin fittings for leaks. At first I thought there was a water leak in the engine room, but when Reg checked it out, it turned out to be diesel from the return pipe coming back from the injector pump. I stopped the engine because I thought we were losing a lot of fuel. I remembered that I had a special tap at home that would fix this; having bought it from the boat show many years ago. So I jumped in the car and raced home to find it. Reg had the job of fixing the fuel pipe, because attaching the tap was a two-handed job. Reg made a quick fix and repaired the fuel line.

It was just after 16:30 and we had missed the fuel barge, so we made the trip up river to our berth. I landed Reg on the pontoon and we managed to make fast and set the springs. I put the kettle on while Reg phoned for a river taxi but they had all finished for the day. So then we then called the harbour master for a lift back as they are usually on duty until 18:30, but there was no reply. We sat with our cups of tea hoping for a passing boat, but none appeared so we were marooned.

As a last resort I phoned the CCYC (Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club), of which I am member and was told we could use their jetty by the yacht club. We asked if our draft of 2.6m was OK, because the tide was very low, but we were told we should be fine – not that we had much of a choice. So we set off back down the river but on the way we touched the bottom three times. Reg being the first to scrape the bottom with the keel. Luckily it was only soft mud so there was no damage to the keel and we managed to reverse out with no trouble. I took the helm and hit the bottom two more times before we reached the floating bridge. Going over the chains with inches to spare was a bit unnerving but after we cleared them we could both breathe again.

Yacht MarathonAs we headed for the CCYC and the mouth of the inlet for the yacht club, we went aground at the entrance. I had steered too wide so we backed out and go closer to the north pylon at the entrance hoping for deeper water. We got through OK and headed over to the jetty. Reg was already to jump off with the lines, but as we got within 5 feet of the jetty, (you guessed it) we went aground again! We tried three or four more times but in the end we decided to give up, then head for Shepards Wharf Marina for the night. Me and Reg then walked back to Medina yard to recover our cars. At this point I said to Reg, “I think that we both deserve a pint at the Duke of York”.

My huge thanks to Reg White for all your help.


There is still a lot to do in order to be ready for the World Challenge. Although most of the hard work is now complete, my priority now is to find a sponsor to help with the progression of the project. My two main requirements are a full set of new sails and replacement of the running rigging.

As regards the sails, we’ve been discussing requirements with suppliers about the design and certain types of lightweight but extremely durable sail material. We are now confident about who we want to work with as our sail suppliers. Similarly we have a supplier lined up to provide our running rigging. So everything is in place once we have found a sponsor. My team are busily working on my sponsorship proposal, which details our project plan and the benefits of being a sponsor of this amazing World Challenge.

By | 2017-04-13T08:56:31+00:00 March 28th, 2015|Boat, Sponsorship, World Challenge|4 Comments

About the Author:

Keith lives on the Isle of Wight and is an accomplished solo offshore Yachtsman. He lost the use of his left arm in a motorway accident in 1991, so he really is your genuine single handed yachtsman. What is incredible is that not only has his disability not prevented him from living his dreams, it’s spurred him on to better things. In 2015 he takes on the pinnacle of solo sailing by sailing single-handed and non stop around the world in his World Challenge.


  1. Mary Ann March 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Marathon is looking awesome! All that time and hard work shows. You have one fine vessel there to fulfill your challenge. May your dreams and ambitions come true, and May Marathon keep you safe throught your travels. Thank you for posting the updates!

    • Keith White March 31, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your support Mary Ann. Exciting times!

  2. Rob Knight April 1, 2015 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Well Keith what a lot of work you have done on Marathon. So much has been replaced since I assisted you to get the yacht back to Cowes from Ramsgate last year. It would be great to see her again once you have replaced the sails and running rigging. My very best for your future endeavours and sponsorship chase. Rob.

  3. James September 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Really envious of you, great blog, please keep us updated, i would love to do what your doing,

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