Hertford is as far as you can get up the Lee Navigation. Time to turn round at the end and head back down.
It would be our last cruise with Linda and Richard from Mary H for this season as they’re off up the Stort and we’re heading back down to London. We were aiming for the lovely moorings at Stanstead Abbotts where we stopped on the way up. They’re quiet, apart from cyclists and joggers, and have picnic tables beside the boats for al fresco breakfasts and dinners. A great spot to stop.
Our problems started when we arrived. Gordon, as usual, checked the engine and found the gearbox covered in oil which must have leaked out of the dipstick aperture.
Panic! Had the gearbox actually been damaged in our encounter with the log on the Basingstoke Canal? A quick google and some chat with the ever helpful Paul (of Caxton fame) seemed to point to a blocked breather (whatever that is). Gordon removed it, gave it a good blowing, put it back on and prayed. Any serious gearbox problems would mean an extended stay in a boatyard, a load of expense and would probably put paid to our ideas of a trip up the tidal Thames from Limehouse under Tower Bridge and back up to Teddington.
The next day, with the gearbox cleaned up so Gordon could easily see any further leaks, we set out. We waved goodbye to Linda, Richard and Muffin….
Every time he got the opportunity Gordon checked the gearbox for signs of leakage. So far so good. In fact we made it all the way down to Waltham Abbey, a cruise of three hours or so, with no signs of the problem recurring. The only thing left to do was wait until the morning and check the levels of ATF in the gearbox to see if any had been lost. Phew! Still no signs of a leak. We’ll keep monitoring it just in case. We’ve got a couple more days’ cruising before we actually head out onto the Thames so if there are any residual problems they’ll raise their head before we commit ourselves!
Oh and did I mention the new propellor? When he was looking at the gearbox Gordon removed the weed hatch. The water was incredibly clear and we couldn’t believe what we saw.
The tip of one of the blades of the new prop was bent! We have no idea when that happened and, if the water had been murky we wouldn’t have noticed it. Luckily the damage is slight and has not affected the way the boat handles. It’ll keep until we stop for the winter.