"PENTARGON" means 'vantage point' or 'nice view' in Kernowek, the native language of Cornwall.
The word does NOT rhyme with a military establishment in Washington.
DAY BY DAY
On returning to Pentargon, Pogue decided to light the Hampshire. The diary for that day goes thus.
West Drayton to Slough
I'd stopped by [Morrisons at Yiewsley] to fettle and to locate a Grand Union Milestone at which a daffodil bulb was planted just to show someone had been through. then I've gone down the Slough Arm on what turns out to be an interesting mini voyage of discovery
Three Bridges to sleep on! Lengthsman Chris gets us to the E5 bus.Buses always lead to hinterland exploration. Hanwell (Nowadays Ealing General Hospital) was a madhouse back in the day but later was upgraded to lunatic asylum. One might cynically describe Westminster as a 21stC equivalent which has not YET become a hospital.
Hanwell and a Bottle of Wine
Sometimes our past comes back to haunt us. In the nicest and most expected way. Bringing with it a bottle of wine! They call it "Serendipity". You'll recall yesterday we moored for the night at GlaxoSmithKline by the A40 and before bed had set the first lock (Clitheroe) for the morrow. On Sunday then, it was away at 'first light', shortening days mean dawn is about 7am. The passage from Brentford to Bull's Bridge is about three miles but contains the infamous Hanwell Flight. Ten locks in all requiring much prior knowledge and pre-planning if you don't want to take all day. It takes me about six hours on my own. The Hanwell Flight itself runs behind Ealing Hospital and is, I believe, a listed monument and was originally a lunatic asylum.
This story involved a small fleet of Dutch Belgian motor launches and a gang of lovely Dutch Walloons who trailed their boats over the Channel, dropped them into the Paddington arm at Highline or something, did a London ring down the Paddo and Regents to Limehouse, going out on the same tide as Pentargon but vanishing upriver within minutes of getting out of the traps. They overnighted somewhere in Brentford and caught up with Pentargon while I was labouring solo up to the Hanwell Flight on Sunday morning. I set the bottom lock for them and talked them up the flight, but just before they departed the bottom lock they passed a bottle of excellent white to me as a "thank you". They had told me they had to be back at Highline by midday!
Clitheroe is the first lock out of Brentford and from there to Osterley the canal runs very close to the M4. There's a weir and the whole area is covered with trees which causes leaf-mugging and fills the cut with vegetation which becomes silt and impedes progress. C&RT have lost the plot in canal maintenance and in few places does this show as clearly as the vicinity of Hanwell.
Between the two locks, a small flotilla of tupperware pots sporting Dutch Flags which we'd last seen in Limehouse lock on Saturday were tied up. Smiles and waves were traded and it occurred to me to wonder what exactly they were up to. Arriving at Hanwell bottom, setting the lock took a few minutes when out of the gloom appeared the flotilla. Realising they could all go up together and get on with their day, I waved them through. Not only that but helped them work their way up the first part of the flight and showed them how to plan forward. More smiles and chat. They were Dutch Walloons chuffed to find a Paddy on a narrowboat they had last seen in in Limehouse.
Out of nowhere appeared a bottle of wine, which was accepted with good grace for Pentargon's meagre wine cellar. They had trailed their boats over by ferry from Belgium to Highline on the Paddington Arm, slipped them and did a London Ring before the Vicky Park Closures. All that remained for them now was to complete the loop back to their cars, hitch up and head home. They were pleased to be 'let through' and shown how to work Hanwell! It was not lost to me that about that time the London Boatery was in total confusion over the Old Ford Closyres, yet this fine continentals had it nailed.
For me nothing changes by being nice. The flight had been against me anyway. But there was one more pleasant surprise. Coming opposite was a dark fat-boat of Pedro Fernandez. Pedro is an old farceburk friend, but apart from meeting him very briefly on the Lee Navigation, I'd not 'met' him in the real sense. Pleasantries were swapped and we proceeded, he with a big smile knowing the locks to Brentford were in his favour. Pentargon got just one lock, so I slogged away slowly, to "Three Bridges" ... Arriving around midday and having done a day's 'lock-miles' it made sense in the warm sunshine to moor up. There was plenty house-keeping to do and Three Bridges is quiet and pleasant.
Welcome Facebook Friends All Over from Pentargon
.. xxx ... ships carpenter ... xxx ...
ongoing project inside the main cabin is somewhat disruptive,
designing and making massive amounts of storage space in what will
later become the spare bed. The area designated The Mess
came originally as more than a mess, having been lashed together with
all sorts of mis-matching timber and marine ply sheets, completely
unsuited to the needs of a constantly moving boat where it needs to
alternate between office, dining area, map table, electronics work
bench, rest area and a usable double bed. I've worked with ship's carpenters
and found them highly skilled, meticulous, inventive, lateral
thinkers who can always produce a tasty solution to any challenge. I'm
happy to advise that I have never seen a ship's carpenter's work
on a canal boat, apart from Pentargon. Most of the mucking I've seen
on canal boats is copying someone else's bodging and I was determined
not to perpetuate that nonsense. Some time ago I had a large number of
wooden drawer/trays made (By a ship's carpenter!)
and these were to mount in [aluminium] rails to provide sliding
storage trays. and the complete units would act as a base for seating
or sleeping. This work has been ongoing whenever it has been possible
to moor up and advance the work. Today at the top of Hanwell was to be
such a day.
2015 brings a new project and a new challenge. Check farceburk for a group:- Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek, aka Steam Crane Wharf ... So much work was done between late May and Mid-October it would take a book ... which hasn't a hope of being written unless some one else does it!
It took four months of spare home time between mid January and mid April 2013 to sort out last year's photos! I'd been using two Fuji Finepix digitals and was not quite careful about ensuring that the reference date was correctly set until I realised sometime in October that a lot of 2011 shots should actually be 2012. Also GMT becomes BST in late March in Engerland and the camera has to be TOLD.
ESPECIALLY you need some sort of flag to tell you which camera an actual shot might be in. And VERY especially you need to be sure your 0700 is not really 1900, because the camera clock is 12hrs out when you misrepresent am for pm or v v. Now this might seem like a rather lame excuse but if I tell you I now have 'em sorted out to YESTERDAY and the count is well over 2200 shots.
NOW and only NOW can I upload them to the Cloud. And THEN I can start linking back to the site. Oh! And I got a bedroom to rebuild in the front cabin and a boat to get to ALdershot by the end of the month.
2014 River licence for three months please
Click for hot link ... After all the blundering and messing in November and December 2013, Pentargon arrived back in the Lea at 23.49 on 31st December 2013 with 11 minutes remaining on his all-singing all-dancing £825 2013 Gold License. Pogue had originally planned to have Pentargon heaved out at Stansted Abbotts before Crimbo, but late 2013 reality will make an even better story than the strategic plan.The 2013 Gold Licence cost over £825 for the year and was 'useful' to enable almost the whole of the C&RT SE region to be visited. 2014 was to be spent up the Lea so a 3mt licence can be bought for about £125, before pulling the boat for the following three months to do some relaxed painting and TLC.
Here I want to comment on the Environmental Agency which administers the non tidal Thames. Not impressed. Maybe the Thames should be given to C&RT. I thought when buying the Gold Licence I was buying a years access to the non-tidal Thames.
Pentargon's Crazy 2013 New Year
Pentargon's Crazy 2013 New Year
Click ... for a hot link to another place in the cloud where all will be revealed
"Pogue Muhone" is skipper of a 36' narrowboat "Pentargon" and Pentargon is a Springer cruising on the cut 365 days a year but is treated like a well-used country cottage. The only reason it is not permanently occupied is because of Pogue's family situation. However, in a given year the boat is manned for about 180 days on average.
"The Cut" is an affectionate name for the Canal Network which meshes much of England, parts of Wales and also includes certain rivers which have been 'canalised'. "The cut" has been beautifully and accurately described for me as "England's longest, friendliest village".
Oxford to Braunston in as long as it takes
Kidlington Green Lock was due to open 13Dec.and there were no other closures posted for the South Oxford Canal before New Year. Once the lock opened the massive return trek would commence. Hopefully no more mechanical problems would occur and it would only be the un-ending tedium of lock after lock and bridge after bridge we'd have to contend with. Meanwhile, Pentargon was resting in a sunny, safe and protected place near Wolvercote while Pogue was resting ashore, allowing nature to restore his hands particularly. They take terrible punishment in cold weather at the helm. Braunston was noted as the first place on the back route where a boat could be lifted and lorried. That decision would be made over a Gongoozler's Rest breakfast if Avril and Jacqui were open when (and if) Pentargon got there.
The above was written while on shore leave and in low spirits.
In the event Pentargon went up Kidlington with a workboat 1300/Thu12thDec during the clearing up operations and before the lock re-opened for business on the Friday. Ship's Log records mooring up at the Rock of Gibralter in Enslow 12th/1645 about a mile beyond Bakers Lock, having made 4.25mls in 3.75hrs, including a delay at Thrupp lifting bridge sorting out the Black Smoke Syndrome.
Cropredy to Oxford Isis in as long as it takes
Well! The Grand Tour has terminated at Isis lock. The Environmental Agency by whose licence Pentargon would have floated downstream, closed the river in early Nov. til the end of March. Apparently they do this every year. Locks are closed for periods of up to four months. I can't even get the boat hoisted out of the water and wafted to Stansted Abbotts. The nearest places a crane and lorry can get to are on the other side of locks closed both to the west AND the east of Oxford. The Gold licence then is an over-expensive sham. In effect the gold part of of the C&RT licence is only usable for seven months of the year. I used it in May to access the Wey and then the Basingstoke canal but was on EA water for less than a month. I had "saved" the remainder of the gold til the end of the year expecting to sail down the Thames from Oxford to Teddington in November. Mechanical delays on the way up the GU pushed everything into late running and I ended up south-bound on the Oxford in mid November about a month later than originally pencilled in. I was fully aware of C&RT closures of selected locks along the Oxford in November and must commend C&RT for very organised planning which permitted me to thread my way through the closures by forward thinking. I'm now lying near Wolvercote awaiting the re-opening of the Kidlington Green lock on 13thDec. when I will have a clear run to Braunston and a calculated risk or two to factor in: ice!, possible leaf-mugging and, heaven forbid, catching weeds and or briars which calls for a most unpleasant visit down the weed hatch in freezing water.
Leaf mugging occurs when the propellor picks up and retains sodden and partly submerged or suspended leaves on the blades reducing the ability of the prop to move the boat forward. Generally, provided it is anticipated!, simply by stopping the prop for a moment the forward way will cause the waterflow over the blades to clear the prop. Sometimes a momentary selection of reverse speeds up the clearing and when forward is re-engaged it should be possible top see the leaves been churned away from the stern.
Experience teaches to avoid or minimize these hazards and makes one aware of where to look. If bankside contractors have been chopping up rose briars and dropping them in the cut, they hang about for some time slowly either sinking as the rot or accumulating at the headrace above the top gate of locks. This is a favourite hang-out for ice too, where th water flow is least.
Marston Top to Cropredy in a day
Norton Junction to Marston Doles
Three Locks to Stoke Breurne
Berko to Three Locks
Up the Grand Union
As of 30th Oct. Pentargon is at Berko and may not be going further for a while. The water heater has still not been seen by Buster Gasman and on checking the sump last weekend we found she is making her own lubricant. The injectors inside are possibly loose and spraying diesel. The storm meant we could not open her up to have a look until Wednesday which we are now about in glorious sunshine. We were eventually got going by John Carpenter after a long bus trip to and from Chris Bennett and Uxbridge. Check back later for the link to the full story
Stort Lea Thames Brent
It had been Pogue's intention to escape from the Lee navigation by the BowLocks and take the tidal River Lea (Bow Creek on London's A-Z) to Leamouth on a dropping tide. We would wait at Leamouth til the turn and then ride the Autumn Spring all the way to Brentford. Pentargon commuted between Three Mills and Limehouse for many days while tides and moorings were examined and the possibility of mooring over winter at Three Mills was looked at. Time or Tide wait for no man though so, when an opportunity arose to depart via Limehouse early one September morning, Pentargon entered the Thames on a rising Spring at 1150hrs and went in at Brentford at 1520. The trip up-river was entirely uneventful and as a result rather forgettable. Are we becoming so blasé that a solo transit of the Thames from Limehouse to Brentford in a 36' narrowboat is so easily dismissed?
Pentargon remained in the tidal Brent at our favourite mooring for some days before moving north through the gauging lock at Milestone 93 and mooring overnight by the A40. Rising on the morrow morn and seeing a boat heading north we very quickly got underway, knowing the next few miles might be completed in company. And so it was that we negotiated Clitheroe, Osterley and the interminable Hanwell flight in the company of the Aussie crew of a Black Prince hire boat who made the passage extremely enjoyable.Some people have problems with 'hire boats'. We tend to test the mettle of the actual people and this works for us. We have met dickheads and arseholes on all types of boats even workboats but have yet to encounter either category in a hire boat. Sometimes they can be lacking in know-how but it is usually counter-balanced by a humility and an eagerness to add to their skills and store of knowledge
Our current quest (as part of a bigger overall plan to take us to the end of the year) was to locate Buster Gasman to have him dismantle the on board Vaillant heater and put it together working. We stopped off to spend a very convivial evening at the Grand Junction Pub near Hayes with Robert Beard, a canal colleague and veritable mine of knowledge and lore and know-how who confirmed Buster was "The Man".
Onwards to Uxbridge, where our first overnight was between the asbstos bridges. Here we were close to canal facilities such as a Lister specialist and a chandlers but a long way from a useful bus-stop. At the end of September we went for 14day mooring by the Oxford Road and see how we could reel in Buster to do the hot water.It did not happen and so the next chapter was opened.
Stand by for the next Hot Link
Lea and Stort surveyed stem to stern Summer 2013
Pentargon entered the Lee Navigation System on 15th June 2013 via Bow Lock and remained there until 15th September 2013, during which time she found her way to Top of Navigation at Hertford (River Lea) and Bishop's Stortford (River Stort). Pogue discovered (and now understands) the anomoly of "Lee" and "Lea". He already knows (being Oirish) that the River Lee is in Ireland and its mouth is the mighty Cork Harbour, the largest enclosed harbour in Europe. The variant "Lee" was introduced to Essex and East London at some stage during the development of the Lee and Stort Navigation to differientiate between the man-made watercourses while "Lea" was reserved for the original river. While at Bow we met a strapping young cyclist (well he could have been in his mid 30's) enquiring as to how he might best get to the end of the River Lea or even where was the end. It is perhaps a story for another day but he had come on his bicycle from the very source of the river near Luton and wished to complete the trek before cycling to Kings Cross to take a train home.
FATHER THAMES TAMED JUNE 2013
Pentargon made it to the Bayzo and got as far as Brookwood on 12th May. Shay, Brenda, Patricia, Jacqui, Karl boarded for a short trip from Brookwood to St.John's. Time precluded the passage of the 20 or so locks between there and Mychett which had been the original destination. But Hey! That's life!
Kingston Upon Thames endured early May
Pentargon is a 36' Springer narrowboat, built and fitted out at Market Harborough in 1973 but apparently registered in 1976. Investigations on-going. She's driven by an air-cooled Lister SR2 engine, believed to be the original and believed to have been new when fitted, and sweet as a nut. The SR2 drives a manual Lister box. The engine can be hand-cranked (if the starter battery ever lets us down!).
Pentargon has been lovingly maintained by previous owners and Pogue Muhone proudly acknowledges that here and now. It was their care which 'sold' the boat the first day and one feels privileged to be given the means to carry on their tradition. Now it has come to new ownership one hopes to maintain and develop Pentargon as we think they might have done. The last owners were forced off the water by 'circumstances' but Pogue is honoured to be in a position to inherit their boat and restore her to her original condition by bottoming her properly. The only major change envisaged is that she is to be converted to all weather and all year use. However most of that work though considerable will not be seen as it involves the insulation of the plumbing system.
It took from 1st Feb to late March to actually get Pentargon into dry dock and early April before work actually started. By mid April, the job was 'proceeding' inexorably but not yet finished. Pentargon eventually came out of dry dock at Hillmorton on Tue.7th May 2012, three months to the day after she was supposed to go in for ten days. The work done at Hillmorton by Paul was of the very highest standard and he can be recommended for any welding you will ever need. But the boat went in and came out if the dry dock a number of times during that three months, to make room for others booked in for blacking by guys who were erm cash rich and time poor."Canal Time" is NOT a fact of life on t'cut for these gentlefolk. They just pay their way around any time problem. Not so Pogue. In Irish "tomorrow" is 'amárach' .Kinda like the Spanish 'manyana' or the Cornish 'drekkley except that the Irish word conveys totally no sense of urgency. Canal time is beyond 'amárach'.
When we first came across Pentargon, in the Autumn of 2010, she was advertised for £16,000 as a 1976, 40' Springer. She was way above our 'size' and 'price' factors. Knowing there would be expenses (and lots of them) after the purchase, we passed. Pogue suspected on looking at her picture that she was nowhere near the 40' claimed.
When he first saw Pentargon in the marina, she definitely didn't look 40' so the tape measure came out and showed slightly under 36' stem to stern, not allowing for the bumpers (fenders in USA and on t'cut) because in real life boats are measured without removable appendages.
Pentargon was the exact length Pogue wanted, the longest narrowboat that can do a handbrake turn on t'cut. But she was outside the price range. Early in 2011 she re-appeared at £13000. One now had room to manoeuvre on 'price' and a margin to lean against. Let it be said right now that the game plan had ONE absolute: a budget of €17000 (£13,500?) to buy a boat, fix the glitches, add the 'extras', purchase a year's mooring, fund the annual licence and get the safety certification. There was no more money. We were not going to be doing business at the asking price, so ideology and business would have to take separate routes for a while.
Pogue is a simple lad when it comes to doing a deal. He did what he'd do with a length of black pudding and bid by the foot. After all, when the marina/broker talked mooring fees, that's what they talked AND they wanted to add in the fenders to the measure! 36/40ths of 'asking price' gave some more 'elbow room' and we were still talking. Well! The broker was talking. The seller was kept right out of the picture; that's how they all work in brokerage!
Buy in a hurry and you buy at the seller's price; bide a wee and you buy at the your price.
A verbal bid was launched to see if it might fly. Buyer's market late in 2011: recession deepening. In a previous life in car dealing one always reckoned it a good idea to allow for surprises when buying a banger. Pogue allowed for plenty surprises with Pentargon. on the basis that if they could not get the age of the boat or the length of the boat right, there were likely to be other delicious surprises in the sunset.
Little did Pogue know at the time how true that would turn out to be!
The brokers came back to know if I'd like to put my offer in writing? This apparently was on foot of their phoning the sellers to see whether they would proceed at the [rather miserly] offer. I rummaged for a fag packet and a pencil.
THE WRITING ON THE WALL
Geographically, Welton Hythe is an excellently suitable home port with certain reservations which I tested to the limit! (Details of these testings are to be found in the blogs!). Welton Hythe is close to Norton Junction, (a canal hub) near the A5 and the M1 with an adjacent bus service to Daventry and Long Buckby where a rail station gives further access to London and Birmingham. Its pound is bounded by the Buckby flight a mile east, the Watford stairs two miles North, Braunston flight three miles west at the other end of the formidable - but for a novice, exciting - Braunston tunnel. Welton Hythe is private and secluded and if the arcane ground rules can be mastered and understood, it could be a relaxed base. The working staff are lovely personalities. I really could work with Chris and Phil and Steve and Mark and especially Kevin who became quite a close pal very early on. The 'tenants' were a hugely mixed bunch of rather nice people from all walks of life with vessels from a couple of Tupperwares to floating corridors touching the limits of dimensional credulity and financial largesse.
There are some who seemed never to leave port; some who seem to almost never come home if the empty spaces represent boats 'away' ; some seemed to 'live' there almost permanently; some seemed to call by rarely if ever. If Pogue bought Pentargon, which had already been moored there for at least two years by all accounts, (and the purchase would be subject to holding that berth) it would suit his purposes nicely. Once again he was going to get some surprises but they may be detailed in the blogs.
FIRST WE HAVE TO PURCHASE PENTARGON
so YOU can know what YOU are letting yourself in for if YOU want or need to buy a boat the 'proper' way, these are the exact words on an innocuous piece of paper which you will have to deal with. ... " template for an agreement for the sale and purchase ofa second-hand vessel subject to survey and sea-trial("the conditional agreement") [June 2007]sponsored by the British Marine Federation in consultation with the Royal Yachting Association This document is intended to create a legally binding contract;if you are unsure as to the effect of any of the provisions you are advised to takeappropriate professional advice" ... Get yourself a copy of this document before you even think of looking at boats in brokers' marinas. I'm sure the document is somewhere on the web but nobody told me there was such a thing until I wanted to 'put it in writing' and reached for a fag packet. To continue with Pentargon's story, for it is her story we want to tell .....the document intended to create a legally binding contract was duly signed on 25th Nov. 2011 and as you will see when you get and read your own copy, I got nailed into my coffin that day. As of that date I am subject to the rigours of the law until I might ...
1... Buy the boat ... or ... 2... invoke clause 5.1 of said binding contract because the boat fails its survey.
The FIRST thing to note is that the signed document must be accompanied by 10% of the [agreed] "purchase price". The 'offer' has legally morphed into a 'purchase price'. the purchaser, (who did not fall out of the last Christmas tree) asked for and received a 'spare' copy of the document and you should too, so that at all times you have in your hot sticky paw a copy of the small print ... Let's say the agreed purchase price was the advertised figure of £13.000 and let's go into the second person singular, which from now on is YOU. YOU have to write a cheque for £1,300 right now made out to the broker. Don't try to offer cash, credit card, IOU or debit card. They don't DO cash, cards, quantitative easing, IOUs or anything else except a CHEQUE. There will be a wait of many days while they clear that cheque. They will tell YOU they have to be in 'contact the seller'. In reality that £1300 is making interest for someone while the purchaser and the seller twiddle their thumbs ... "The broker" (who will be a member of the British Marine Federation and the Boat Retailers and Brokers Association) now becomes a legal entity known as "the broker" and you become "the purchaser" Section 5 of your contract should become the focus of all your attention. 5.1 is to be watched very carefully. Hidden deep in the clause is a sting. You can't just pull out of a 'defective' boat and get your money back if the defects can be fixed for x% of the purchase price. In my case I would not agree to x being other than 5%. 5% of £13,000 is £650 AND! if you had not noticed this, it could be £650 on top of the £13,000 just because you failed to study the small print with a large magnifier..
... NOT the back of a fag packet as I innocently expected when I decided to make a pitch for? ... far from it ...
(Buyer Beware ... Never give a sucker an even break ... Don't buy a pig in a poke. etc.)
PENTARGON'S ENGINE TAG
3849 SR 226 M
I don't yet know what story is fully told by the number. The SR series was built by Lister between 1969 and 1976, within which window the boat is known to have been built. 1973 is a provisional stab due to rudder features on the boat which relate to that year and no other.
SR2M series: diesel fuelled, air-cooled 2cyl, 1103cc Bore/Stroke 3.5"x3.5" [email protected] Weight 635 lb