This evening we had planned to take the Duck into Cambridge. Our club, Chesterton Rowing Club, is organising the Head of The Cam race tomorrow, and we had planned to use the Duck as a toilet stop for the Red Cross volunteers who are on standby all day in case something goes wrong.
So we reversed out carefully, and set off. Not long after, I heard the engine cut out and a series of expletives from James. We had lost drive and the Duck was drifting towards the bank: the coupling had come loose again. James was able to tighten up the bolts but he noticed that the shaft was looking pretty worn. We started up the engine and I carried on doing the washing up. About twenty minutes later exactly the same thing happened, but this time we were opposite moored boats and were unable to get into the bank before the stream caught us. Using poles, we were able to get back into the bank without hitting anyone but it was a bit scary, especially as the stretch of river above Baits Bite lock is currently frequented by first boats who use it for fast pieces, and could at any moment come hurtling around the corner.
So we decided to turn around and head back to our mooring, rather than risk being stranded in Cambridge, with no drive. Moving slowly with the stream, we limped back. All in all, a very scary and frustrating evening, patricularly as we will no longer be able to act as loo-boat. But at least we've got somewhere to stay while we fix it!
On through Abingdon to Dorchester on Thames
6 hours ago