……But then a couple on NB Ajax came to the rescue. We’d had an uneventful trip from Bridge 193, stopping at Aynho Wharf for diesel and gas, then up the shallow Aynho Weir Lock to cross the River Cherwell.
Leaving Aynho Wharf, gas locker and diesel tank replenished.
Leaving the diamond-shaped Aynho Weir Lock.
The river comes in from the left of the picture, and runs off under the bridge, protected by the wooden fendering.
I walked the ½ mile to Nell’s Bridge Lock with Meg, and that’s where the wheels came off. Mags went into reverse to stop on the lock landing, and the engine stopped dead. No splutter, cough or hesitation, just stopped. I jumped on, restarted and ran the engine up in neutral with no trouble, but as soon as I put it in gear the engine stalled.
The most likely cause was a jammed prop, and this turned out to be the case. To get to it from above there’s a deck hatch in the counter, then you have to unclamp and remove the weed hatch assembly, an unwieldy steel construction which prevents water being thrown up into the boat when the prop turns. With this out you hang upside-down with your bum in the air to grope around the prop, up to your armpits in canal water.
Now I’m aware that not everyone reading this will be familiar with a narrowboat’s nether regions, so I’ve taken some pictures.
Looking down through the counter access hatch, everything in place as it should be.
With the weed-hatch removed, yes, that’s the canal you can see, and the prop is two feet below the surface….
The weed-hatch, the cover plate assembly that keeps the canal where it belongs.
Many a boat has been sunk when this has been left off….
Jamming the prop was a mass of vegetation, the root ball of a clump of reeds that had broken away from the bank. I managed to tear enough off to release the rest, which went floating off to catch another passing propeller, but I also succeeded in knocking my weed-hatch over the side.
It weighs probably the neck-end of 15lb (that’s around 7kg in foreign currency) but all is not lost; some time ago I invested in one of those Sea-Searcher magnets for just such an eventuality. Trouble was, it wasn’t powerful enough! I could just get it to take the weight, then it would let go.
The water was around three feet deep here, and I’d decided I’d have to go dabbling for it, when another boat arrived behind, and offered the use of another magnet as well. In fact we didn’t need both, the one from NB Ajax was up to the job on it’s own and the hatch rose from the murky depths, to my great relief.
It was a matter of minutes to get everything back together, and we were able to go up the lock. Thanks, crew of the Ajax. I owe you one!
N.B. Sea Searcher magnets are a lot stronger if you take the keeper plate off before use. I forgot!
The rest of the day was without drama (thankfully), and we pulled up just short of Banbury at around 2 o’clock.
The delightfully named Scrooby’s Lift Bridge is secured in the open position, like most of the lift bridges up here
Grant’s Lock was our last today, and the bridge at the tail end has two bridge numbers, No. 148, renumbered No 174
Grant’s Lock Bridge
Now I know some bridge numbers were made redundant on the North Oxford when it was straightened, but that would surely make any renumbering lower rather than higher, wouldn’t it? Any ideas?
Moored in the sunshine near Nadkey Bridge.
Consistent with the last few days, it started to rain about five o’clock. But the forecast indicates a considerable improvement coming up. Good-oh!
Locks 4, miles 6½