We had 24 locks to do today (Tuesday) so set off fairly early 10 ish.
By the time we'd got half way up Lapworth flight the sun had disappeared and black clouds were everywhere so we adjourned to The Boot for lunch. It's a very posh country pub, full of business people wheeling and dealing and while the food was a bit pricey for lunch it was superb! The specials were all fish which suited us down to the ground. Roger had Masala spiced hake and I had ginger, sesame and soy crispy salmon. Judging by the quality, I would expect their Sunday lunches to be pretty good and have marked it in the book as being worth a stop next time we're back this way.
When we came out of the pub the sun was shining again so we carried on, only to get in the short pound between 2 of the locks and get absolutely drenched. I was up at the lock and Roger was driving so by the time he'd got into the lock and could pass me a coat it was like I'd just got out of the shower. Not much point putting waterproof trousers on as I could have wrung my shorts out, but never mind, it was still warm and we carried on regardless. True Brits!
We finished the 24 locks and arrived at the 2nd lift bridge where there were 2 boats moored, leaving just 1 boat length before the bridge. Roger put the boat in reverse to stop for me to get off and CLUNK the engine died as something solid had been sucked up by the propeller. We leapt off pretty sharpish with the rope to stop the boat before it nudged the bridge and smashed the cratch, moored up and Roger went down the weed hatch to investigate. You may remember me saying a few weeks ago that we hardly ever need to go down the weed hatch as our prop-protector cuts off most offending items before we even know they're there. Well not this time. It was something big and hard and stuck between the skeg and the propeller. The prop was absolutely rigid and there was no way Roger could dislodge the "thing" manually. He tried bashing it off with a mooring stake and mallet and managed to get a couple of shards off it.
It looked like the hard black rubber buffering stuff CaRT are installing at lock landings and bridges etc. which meant that a chunk as big as we had would be almost impossible to knock out. What to do? He stopped trying to bash it out as he didn't want to damage the prop and had a think. Roger decided the best thing would be to try and chisel it out, but we'd need a very long chisel. So out came the grinder and he made one, by grinding the end of mooring pin to a sharp blade.
To be honest I was a bit sceptical but I should have trusted him. I'll always go for the hammer every time, whereas he goes along the engineering route.........and is usually right. And it worked! A few carefully positioned wacks with this very sharp "chisel" and the block split and fell off. Phew......
By now it was starting to get late so we reversed back behind the 2 moored boats and stayed the night. We'll carry on in the morning but will coast through that bridge hole so we don't pick up any more crap.