Memsahib was sitting in a lock on the Illinois River yesterday with the 50-ton doors getting ready to open when the lockmaster called out — “Say, I think I’ve got you boys a little too close to those doors — cut loose and back off” only to find we had no reverse.  We found a couple prop turns somewhere and got out of the way, but for the next 50 miles sometimes we had forward, sometimes we had reverse, and for a while this morning we had neither.  So we limped into to the best service place on the river — Spring Brook Marine — and they fiddled and tested until they finally had no alternative theory but that something funky was wrapped around the shaft.

So John braved the Leaping Carp, toxic mud and leeches and went overboard, to find an XL size, nylon North Face jacket had wrapped itself completely around the prop.  When we were going good it would simply wrap itself tight around the shaft, but when we’d stop it would soak up water and foul the prop, making it seem that we were only partially in gear.

John had to cut it off a piece at a time with razor blades, but he is fine now other than the fact that his left little toe has fallen off and he has a third (green) eye.