|Journey's end for today, and the flight ahead for tomorrow|
Back, then, to the boatman's cabin (the small space between the engine room and the afterdeck) and remove the steps to access the weedhatch. First, turn the prop shaft and make sure it's free turning and with no fore-and-aft play.
Now, wriggle under the afterdeck into the back of the hull. The weedhatch seals in the inspection chamber at the bottom of which is the propeller. You need to be able to get at it to clear the propeller of debris; without the hatch you'd have to go underwater yourself to get at it.
Here's the hatch removed, with the cavitation plate at the bottom (or the top, in this picture). The cavitation plate keeps a smooth profile on the underside of the hull so that the propeller doesn't turbulate, or at least no more than can be helped.
You can now see down to the propeller. Or at least, you could if the water weren't so murky. Nothing for it but to roll up the sleeves and get your arm down there.
There was a big piece of plastic wrapped around the propeller shaft; that would explain the vibration I was getting last time I moved the boat. While I was down there, I turned the prop and examined it for dents.
And finally a turn on the stern gland greaser. This lubricates the packing that stops water coming in where the prop shaft runs out of the boat into the water.
And now it's time to fire up the engine!