A weedhatch is a device used to gain access to the propeller and shaft, saving you from having to get in the water whilst on the inland waterways
A number of designs are installed depending upon the stern type and engine configuration. Typically a large rectangular box is welded on the inside of the uxter plate, directly above the propeller. There is a water tight hatch over the tub which is commonly sealed by a replaceable rubber seal.
On your narrowboat, the weed hatch can be located above the prop shaft in the engine bay., often one of the most common problems is picking up floating debris from the canal, and having it wrap around your propeller. This usually manifests itself in a loss of power, juddering at the tiller, or in extreme cases a complete loss of propulsion.
The easiest and safest way to approach clearing your propeller from any debris is to moor up and turn off the engine, remove the keys and isolate the batteries - ensure that there is no possibility of the engine starting up.
You will need to undo the watertight seal and lift this off in order to reach down to the propeller. Take care when reaching into the hatch and feel around for the material you need to clear; this could be anything from weeds or leaves and potentially even rope or plastic bags wrapped around the propeller. It is important to remember that the prop is very sharp and can easily cut your hands, so take is slow and steady when clearing. Once you have successfully cleared the prop, you can then put the cover and seal back on. Check that the watertight seal is as tight as can be, failure to secure this properly can cause water to flood into the boat and lead to your narrowboat sinking.
If your weedhatch cover is not fitted properly or is left off, water can ingress and flood the engine room very quickly causing the boat to sink. Before every journey check that the hatch cover clamps are secure and tight and the hatch is fitted correctly. Regularly inspect the hatch and seals for corrosion.
PLEASE NOTE: the weed hatch should never be removed when the engine is running, even if the gearbox is in neutral.