After a glorious run in the sun down the Thames from Teddington we made the turn into the River Brent and saw the gates of Thames Lock close against us. The two boats in front were leaving the tideway; it would be our turn next.
And so, after two incident-packed weeks on the River Thames, we were, at last, back on the calmer waters of the canal network. But our problems weren't quite over yet.
Witnessing the latest of these was Neil of NB Herbie. He'd driven over to meet us and give us a hand up the Hanwell lock flight. Neil, it was good to see you, and thanks for your help.
We had barely started up the locks when, as you will have deduced from the title of this post, there was a loud bang, and the engine suddenly stopped dead. Here we go again! No drive, and we were drifting away from the bank. Neil, fortunately, was on the towpath and ready to catch the rope I threw him.
Lifting the weed hatch (hooray!) confirmed what I'd suspected: a submerged log had been trapped between the propeller and the boat. But it wouldn't come off. The shiny new blade of the prop had sliced into the rotting log, and it was stuck fast. Fortunately David had left a small saw behind, and I began cutting bits of wood away.
photo lifted from Herbie's blog - hope you don't mind, Neil
Eventually I was able to knock the log off with the end of the weed hatch securing bar. No damage had been done, but the boat we were locking with hadn't waited, and had gone up the lock by itself.
This could have worked out better. As Neil has already described, there were some low pounds above us, requiring lockfuls of water to be flushed down. This all took a long time, and put paid to my half-formulated plans to squeeze in the Slough Arm
Neil discovering how light the steering is on Willow
We stopped at Bull's Bridge Junction, bought some meat in Tesco, and had a barbecue. A fine relaxing end to another interesting day.