By jove, I think I’ve got it.

That’s a quote made famous by an Irish man I think.
Yes it looks like I’m back in business, cooking with gas, flying the kite …. enough!

Up early this morning, I had not just a plan, but a plan B, a plan C and other ideas. My main thing was to be methodical. So I decided to wait for a slow current, difficult as we are close to spring tides, bright sunshine, and to have everything I need, working just right. I fixed up my breathing apparatus, if that’s not a bit too grand a term for an old bit of hose gaffa taped onto a snorkel

Next, I gathered together the tools for the job!

This is my anti-Jellyfish outfit, bloody hot, given it’s 35+ outside, at least the waters a little cooler.

and finally, into the water

Just so you know what Im working on, in the picture below, between the black hull, and the brass propeller, you can just make out a 1 1/2″ prop shaft. this turns, the hull doesn’t, so the fishing line or rope gets wrapped around the shaft and fills the whole gap up, compressing itself as it goes, until it’s all compacted in and forced against the front and back edges. It can even get drawn into the bearing the prop shaft sticks out of, This is called the cutless bearing, because it causes the prop shaft to be cut less, not cutlass which people call it as it sounds more nautical.
When I first dived the gap was full and the line was also wrapped all around the prop and the blades. Now we are just down to the gap.

Sadly when I first dived at about 11am, after 2 hours of tortuous spreadsheet based work, for my paying job with the wind turbines, the visibility was atrocious. So I sent the camera down, this time I swam down and held it at length to see what I was up against. I could feel the mess, but couldn’t see it. This video shows the problem.

Thee are some more stills above. I made three trips under the boat today, and by the end I had removed all of the line. There may be some inside the cutless bearing, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. I have run the engine in forward and reverse, and it’s fine, I was able to turn the prop with my hands underwater, and I think it’s free. I think it turns easier in the boatyard, but it’s hard to compare when your gasping for breath, and dodging jellyfish 😉

Two fishing boats called by today while I was in the water, one large boat, and he looked like he would help if I asked, but by then I was on a roller. In fact I was already thinking about the style of advert I might place in the local gazette, “Prop Shaft repairs unlimited” there’s definitely an opportunity round here 😉

The other thing I practised today was breathing with next to no air. Tim and I had a chat about how atmospheric pressure works and how deep I could go with the hose pipe. Not very deep it seems. This is very interesting, but I found I could get my head about 2 ft under water, which gave me just enough room to reach the prop, but breathing was hard. What surprised me was the slightest effort in using the knife or hacksaw exhausted me, and I couldn’t breathe. I usually panic at this point and launch myself upwards. I only learnt to swim ten years ago, and this scenario used to be nightmarish for me. But I found that I could adapt if I went very slowly, so as  soon as the lack of air started to affect me, I would slow down, or stop and wait a bit then start again. This helped massively, because before I had been exhausting myself going up and down, and doing very little cutting. it helped that it was very calm today and I had completely forgotten about the Jellyfish

I have a fly on board, I believe he has been with me since Penang, he seems to want to spend more time with me, he’s probably lonely, as we are now several hundred miles from his home, and he (could be a she) hasn’t had a chance to get to land yet. All the moths and mosquitos have long left, it’s very pleasant being offshore away from all of these creatures.

It’s too late to depart today, so I will be up early and away to the south. Thanks for the support and suggestions and I look forward to receiving the ROV on my birthday, should anyone win the pools and feels generous.

Paul Collister