Weeds and props

The weeds are really, really bad this year. The folks at Zero to Cruising have commented a few times on how thick the weed mats in Collins Bay are- some of their weeds have even trapped birds. And on the Rideau this weekend, we rarely made it more than a minute or two without getting a weed ball of some kind wrapped around the prop.

You see, there are a lot of manicured lawns running right up to the edge of the lakes around here. And there are a lot of farms not too far away from the lakes. So there's a substantial amount of nutrient-rich runoff going straight into the water, and aquatic plants can thrive a little too well.

With weeds clogging up the navigation channels, people will get out the cutter bars and start trimming. But it seems that few will bother to remove the cuttings from the water, so there are large weed clumps drifting around at the surface on almost every Rideau lake, just waiting to snarl a high-speed prop.

Water weeds

When you hit one, they'll wrap around the outboard's lower unit and screw up the water flow to the prop. (Inboard boats get them too, wrapped around the shaft, strut, prop or rudder.) Without a clean flow, the prop will cavitate- so the engine suddenly revs up and you lose thrust. From the captain's perspective, it's hard to distinguish from the slipping caused by a damaged prop hub.

Weeds wrapped around the prop

A quick burst of reverse will usually clear things up, but on two occasions this week we've had to tilt the engine up and rip the weeds out of the prop by hand.

I keep hearing about those line-cutting attachments that you can put on the prop shaft of an inboard-powered boat.... I wonder if there's an outboard equivalent? Or should I just hone a knife-edge into the front of the skeg?




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