Bandit's Off to Ely Again - Day 4: The Journey Home

Sunday 30th October 2016 - Day 4 of our third holiday to Ely.

Day four of our holiday on Bandit was reserved for the long slog back to our home marina in Saint Ives.

We set alarms for 0800hrs so we could have some breakfast and a hot drink, still leaving enough time for us to travel back to the marina. We were about 20 miles from Saint Ives which doesn't seem that far until you take the 4mph speed limit into consideration. The second thing to note was that today was when the Daylight Savings Time ended this year so it was actually 0900hrs in 'real time'.

We had a hot drink down below in the warmth provided by the Eberspacher heating at 0800hrs in the morning. After that, we opened the cockpit door and I folded back the front section of the canopy. When cruising a distance such as this, I like to have the choice to stand up and steer where it's easier to see things and manoeuvre the boat. It is easy with the canopy folded down but it's also nice to have a good view of everything around. The canopy windows and the windshield was all full of condensation where the Eberspacher, located in the right hand cupboard in the cockpit, was going all night and warming the cockpit up enough to condensate the windows. It was a freezing cold morning and very foggy. This would be the first time we'd been in the fog in Bandit and the first time we'd actually used the navigation lights. We checked to ensure they were all working as we realised we haven't had the need to turn them on and check them since buying the boat, almost eleven months ago.
The fog at Miles Miles From Anywhere at 0900 in the morning
Bandit moored at 5MFA
The view down the river - looks scary, perfect for upcoming halloween!

I felt guilty raising the anchor at 0900hrs in the morning as it seemed everyone else moored at the Five Miles from Anywhere pub was still in bed. Maybe they were just keeping warm but that windlass motor does make some noise.

No matter, we then untied the ropes and before setting off, we noticed something that caused some concern... There was a large amount of oil on the water and big pockets of it were coming to the surface. We retied the ropes and turned the engines off. We checked the engine bays just in case there was anything in there that could point us to an explanation. Nothing. Then something clicked - we'd just had that trouble with somebody's ensign flag being tightly wrapped around the propellers...more specifically, between the rear prop and the oil seal. We came to the conclusion that that flag did more damage than we had thought. Not only has it caused the leg / propellers to vibrate through the boat but it's also destroyed our prop shaft oil seal. Bugger! I was worried about setting back off as we planned to use the starboard engine only while doing the 3-4hour journey down the Old West River. This means we only use half the fuel but still have power steering and charge going to the domestic battery. We did it anyway and just hoped for the best. There are many litres of oil in that drive so it wasn't going to be an issue. Another thing we've realised is that the shaking from that drive might very well be where the oil seal has been disturbed and the prop shaft might be moving around slightly. We hope so, anyway.

The journey back to Saint Ives was non-eventful and quite boring. I hate to say it really as I very rarely get bored on the boat but there was nothing to see and with the addition of thick fog, it meant I had to really be on the ball. The last thing we needed was a collision with another vessel because I hadn't been paying attention. We got through it and was soon back on familiar water. We returned to our home marina and walked over to the office to speak to someone about the oil seal in the starboard leg. After much discussion, they suggested we contact our insurance as it has damaged the leg and propellers and destroyed the shaft seal. All through no fault of our own and this incident will rack up a £1k+ bill for us to pay. Besides, what else is insurance for? We've not claimed in several years so it's not like we're pushing our luck too far. Anyway, will keep updates coming on this subject. Before heading into our current part of the marina, we took a spin around the new marina that Jones Boatyard is working on. Happy to say we didn't hit anything and there was 2-2.5m of depth the whole day around. Will be good to see it open with an additional 105 moorings. We're fully packed at the moment in the current marina. Not a single morning...
Shortly after leaving 5MFA
Down the Old West River when the fog started to clear
Shallow and narrow - 0.3m of depth below the keel (essentially the depth for the whole duration of The Old West River)
Looking at the shallow and narrow channel we'd just passed through
After the fog had cleared on The Old West
Hermitage Lock - Earith
Hermitage Lock - Earith
Back on familiar water
The Environment Agency's expensive yellow boat with twin 150hp Honda outboard engines (!?!?!?)
And the point of this expensive vessel is...?
Taking a trip around Jones Boatyard's new marina, Saint Ives

Overall, it's been a fantastic holiday, forgetting about our run-in with the damn flag. That's just our luck, though. Of corse it would happen to us. Anyway, we're home safely and can begin to plan for the winter. Bandit will most defiantly have to come out now to have the oil seal replaced on the drive. The bellows haven't been changed in an alarming amount of years either so this is something we've had at the back of our minds. Time, I think, that we put things right below the waterline this winter and begin with the refurbishment of the galley as soon as possible... 

Five Miles from Anywhere to Saint Ives - trip details:
Total miles: 60.8 miles
Miles from Five Miles > St Ives: 19.7 miles
Time overall: 16hrs 04mins
Total move time: 11hrs 09mins
Top speed: 7.2knots


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