Bandit's Off to Ely Again - Day 2: Disaster Strikes

Friday 28th October 2016 - Day 2 of our third holiday to Ely.

Today our endless bad luck strikes again...

We woke up later than normal today and found that our little geese friends had camped the night just outside the boat window. As soon as we unlocked the cockpit door and sat down, they rushed over making their funny little noise, almost as if they were asking us for their breakfast. We fed them and they then waddled over to the fountain to get a drink. They're so incredibly cute and they seemed to take a liking for us.

After sitting about for a bit watching the river go by, we walked into town to get lunch and pudding for later. Ely is a fantastic place to do some sight-seeing. We walked over to Ely Cathedral and admired the old church. After, we went to Sainsbury's to get our provisions and then made our way back to the boat. We sat about in Ely again for a couple of hours and then dived into the engine bay to ensure all was still good after our good run to Ely yesterday. Everything was fine so we decided to head off for Littleport. This is the part where we could open Bandit right up, as long as there were no boats on the river or fishermen that we would disturb. So many people use this deep, wide, straight part of the river to get some speed going so we felt confident to get some speed going ourselves.

A nice morning at Ely Quayside
Looking upstream from the bridge entering Cathedral Marina, Ely
Heading for Littleport
We opened her up and got onto the plane. I wanted to mess around with the trim tabs as we've not had a chance to do so yet. While playing around with them, the boat lurched and the power on the starboard engine disappeared. I throttled back and revved the engine. All seemed fine so we gave her another go. She got back on the plane easy enough and then the loss of power returned. We were nearly at our destination in Littleport, The Swan on the River restaurant, by this point so we took it slow and moored up. As we moored, a boater who was moored behind us said we've got something red wrapped around the props. After raising the starboard drive, we found what turned out to be someone's red Ensign flag wrapped between the anode and the forward propeller and between this prop and the aft prop. We obviously caught it down this straight and the sheer speed and power of the props obviously cut it straight up and wrapped itself between the propellers. It was fair to say it was well and truly stuck. Nothing would make it budge so there was only one thing for it... Remove the props there and then to free it. It was either this or we limped back 8 hours to our marina in Saint Ives. This would mean there was nothing to charge the domestic battery, not hot water and, most importantly, no power steering.

Dad got on the bathing platform and set about removing the props. We gave up and took a minute to get our heads together before trying once more. We found a long bar in one of the cabinets that we could use to add leverage to the existing Volvo Penta propeller removal tool. This worked a treat and very slowly and carefully, the props were off and safely inside the boat. I was so worried about dropping a propeller or parts in the water as it was nearly six meters deep below Bandit's keel. The water is cold at this time of year and even dipping your arm in is enough... We untangled the flag and put the propellers back on. Tomorrow we'll give her another good run to ensure all is okay. This being after we're happy that the propeller nut and cone was tightened enough. Don't want to lose a propeller while hitting 30 knots...
Our propellers from the starboard drive
The remained of the flag...
Prop-less starboard outdrive
We then sat back for an hour after what was an unlucky disaster and then went into the Swan on the River restaurant for our meal. It was fantastic in every respect. The food was good and the staff were friendly and helpful. We're now aboard Bandit in the warm with the heating going, plugged into 240v shore power provided by the restaurant. I also purchased Imray's Y9 nautical navigation chart for The Wash. We're so looking forward to our huge adventure sometime next year and it will come around quicker than we expect. Time to do some research into the adventure me finks :D.
Bandit moored at the Swan on the River, Littleport

Sunset over the restaurant
£17.99 well spent :)


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