A new Tug!
by : Dave Irving
Our new tug Margaret had a good day today. After her exertions last week, her prop had picked up a lot of 'stuff', so we took the time to remove it: we found a large industrial strength plastic bag as the prime culprit, but a lot of sturdy weeds as well. Her weed hatch made this a more convenient job than it is for Goliath, but it still took us close to an hour to remove all the tightly wrapped detritus.
So off we went, aiming to make it all the way to the western end of the navigable cut - 'To the Ocean!' we cried. Once past Ryeford locks, we found the pound about 6 inches down, and could feel Margaret encountering underwater obstructions of various types. Dragging through Ryeford Wharf we disturbed the usual mountain of horse chestnuts, and by the time we reached Upper Mills it was clear we should look at the prop again. It turns out that bicycle tyres can trap a lot of weed! But we were soon(-ish...) off again. By Boakes Drive (aka Stonehouse Wharf), the clear water showed us both shallow water and a blanket of weed, but (with frequent reversals of the engine helping to clear lightweight weeds) we made it to the Ocean swingbridge, where we turned and had a well-deserved cup of tea.The return was similar to the outward journey. The major differences were that travelling back through the channel we'd just cut clearly made life easier - we need to do more of this!, and this time we found that sweatshirts can also trap a lot of weeds and can also be very reluctant to unravel from the prop.
Arriving back at Ebley, we moored and decided to have one last look at the prop (we're already getting well practiced at lifting the weed hatch). And look! - another large industrial plastic bag, plus clothing, plus weeds. We wonder how long it will take us to find all the submerged rubbish in the canal.