PENTARGON .. SPRINGER

An unassuming narrowboat perusing the
"Longest Friendliest Village in England".

HOME TO PENTARGON SPRINGER

 
 First view of Pentargon. Autumn 2011

 

 

PEN-TAAR-GON

 

Whenever you come across something underlined and [differently] coloured which lights up when you hover over it, you have found a 'hot-link'. When I actually make the connections you will be able to click on the hotlink to open a picture related to whatever drivel is written. As of 10Apr17 we are in test mode with the name "Pentargon".

PENTARGON comes from the Cornish language: Kernowek and means 'vantage point' or 'nice view'.

Pronounce "Pentargon" as above.

Pentargon does not rhyme with US Military HQ Washington.

 

 

 

DAY BY DAY ... or week by week more like ...

This web page is wot it sez on the tin!

a "day by day" account of Pentargon's travels across England

via libraries, locks, liquor and liquid history.

Sat.Apr 8th Rugby Library. (Oxford canal)

Mon.Apr.10th Nuneaton

Wed.Apr12th to Tues18th Atherstone. 

Sutton Stop (Coventry Canal)

Fazeley Junction (Trent and Mersey)

Great Haywood. (Staff & Worcs)

The River Severn

The Gloucester Ship Canal

 The Bristol Channel to Portishead

Portishead to Bristol and Bath

The Kennet and Avon to Newbury

 

WIP: 23/08/2017 

 

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 26th March 2017. At last the "Book" has commenced! The draft is at a temporary website!

The cupboards are still disorganised (as of August 2017)  as indexing is ongoing for

...  Book under Construction ... 

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 2017 Strategic Plan 

During Summer 2106 at Dartford, the boat gained a permanent crew member.

Mick Carroll joined as boatswain at Dartford in August 2016

to gain the experience of living on a boat and dealing with it.

He intends is to buy one eventually and take to a floating life.

 

The 2017 plan (builds on 2016). Stabbits to Limehouse to Kingston (boatswain's home territory!)  for Mick to learn the arcane art of ferry-gliding. Later, Pentargon descends to Brentford, joining the Grand Union Canal and following the milestones to Braunston. Taking the Oxford Canal to Hawkesbury Juction and the Coventry canal to Fazely junction puts us onto the Trent & Mersey Canal, going west and then south around Stafford on the Staff & Worcs Canal to the town of Wombourne.

A major stop here during June to refit refurbish and plan forward to Sharpness.

We hope to find our way through the Severn valley to Bristol in mid Summer to pick up the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, neatly slotting into last year's descent of the Isis Thames to Teddington and the sea. 

 

The 6mt Sep/Mar river licence was traded in at the end of December 2016 for a gold licence.

  

 "Katie" 2016

"Katie",  a storm of flying slate proportions swept middle England in late March 2016.

Pentargon was nailed to rings on the banks of the Kennet at the top end of Reading 

Pogue went back to his family for the duration to celebrate Easter.

There had been considerable flow on the Kennet, due to a deluge in the Thames valley

about a week previouslyand now "Katie" was due to call and wreck the place.

 

2016 >2017 

 Pentargon was river licensed Sep'16 to Mar'17 to get her back from the Darent to Stansted Abbotts

Out of the water to fit four new anodes, plans were hatched for some new adventure .

She lay over at Stabbits for Christmas, the New Year and splashed on Jan 20th2017.

 

Ice on the Lea.  

 

Edited to here at Atherstone Library Sat 15th Apr.2017 

 

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2016 Strategic Plan

 Approaching the end of March 2016, the basic strategy has worked. Pentargon reached Reading and side-tracked up the Kennet which flows through the centre of town.  Easter was upon us and family commitments suggested it might be a good idea to park up for a week. There was the added factor that the next 50miles to Teddington will be through very busy sections of river littered with holiday and leisure traffic. Waiting til the holiday is over and people are back at work will reduce the stress and hassle of the next legs.

St.Patrick's Day was spent inauspiciously on the Oxford near Isis Lock having come down the Cherwell from Enslow through Thrupp (sometimes at bicycle speeds) the previous day. Eight days ago, an exceptional weather front had dumped massive amounts of rain overnight in the Cherwell and Thames catchment areas and for the past week, this water was  draining off the land into rivers (and canals!) now in spate. 

"Spate" matters in transferring from the Oxford to the Thames, especially when your boat has a low-power engine. Part of the Isis diverts under Oxford station via a narrows known as the Sheepwash and the Sheepwash causes a 'bottle-neck' which in turn speeds up the water considerably.  On 17th March the speed through the narrows suggested that Pentargon might not be able to move quickly enough to actually make way: the Sheepwash was looking too 'fast' for a transit.

Friday 18th , having observed a BMC-d narrowboat get through Sheepwash without too much struggle, the decision was made! Engine start 1340Z and we dropped down Isis lock and went for it. Out in the main River, the flow was mighty but the sheer width gave plenty scope for manoeuvre. Osney Lock was negotiated by self-service from 1430 and by 1730 we were through Sandford where (the diary sez!) "after emptying the bilges" we moored up overnight. The GPS records [TH01 SANDFORD].

Fifty miles to Reading was done at speeds one could only imagine. Suffice to say for the moment that a seven mile stretch between locks (one of the longest reaches on the Thames) was completed from cast off to tie up in 55mins! The whole Thames experience was  amazing and a rest-over at Reading (from 22nd March through Easter) would let commuters enjoy their little holiday on the water. 

Another 50miles to Teddington Lock through Henley, Windsor Shepperton gave a great opportunity to see how 'the other half' lives and with the equinox passed, 6oc starts permitted at least a dozen miles a day to be completed before most of the holiday makers are up.

The engine and boat behaved impeccably on this massive 6mt ring  

 

 

Middle of October 2015, tide and wind willing, Pentargon leaves the comparative cosiness of Dartford Creek for a six month cruise through the winter muddle of England, towards Rugby, maybe Coventry, on a "ring" encompassing the Grand Union and Oxford Canals and the Thames tidal and non-tidal arriving back in Dartford in late April 2016.

On an appropriate day, [Pentargon] will drop down Dartford Creek under the helm of her master Pogue Muhone to a temporary anchorage on The River. Subsequently, she will 'take the tide' with "Crispy Nails" some 30miles to Thames Lock Brentford,  gateway to the English canal network. Entering the Grand Union Canal  via  the Gauging Lock, she will continuously cruise the largest 'ring' ever attempted by a narrowboat solo in Winter and encompassing 400 miles of tidal and freshwater rivers, canals, navigable watercourses and working some 250 locks and three miles of tunnel. 

Pentargon will meander northward 140miles, averaging no more than five miles a day and in reality much less at times, through Watford (where she gets her new leisure battery) and Berkhamsted climbing sixty locks over the Chiltern Hills to the summit by Bulbourne (to bunker a fresh supply of the purest water in England) before descending the Marsworth Flight to Leighton Buzzard. There she is expected to lay-over Christmas. Secretly, Pogue is a grandad, father, husband and 'family man' with a very understanding spouse and a large [extended] family.

During the Grand Union leg from Brentford to Braunston, Pentargon will sow the seeds of an idea for re-introducing Lengthsman to the cut. Between Brentford Gauging Lock and Braunston Stop House the Grand Union Canal is marked by [93] milestones: "93" being at Brentford Gauging Lock. Each milestone will be marked by GPS and a daffodil bulb planted alongside each marker (or it's assumed position if missing!). In the Spring it is expected to have a ribbon of yellow stretching all the way from London to Braunston to indicate the someone cares about the length in 21st Century.

M53 is on the Marsworth fllight and is dedicated to Cuba and Mia who planted the bulb there when Pogue "forgot" in the excitement of meeting them and their Mom and Dad.

Onwards to Milton Keynes, she will stop awhile by Bletchley Mile40 to visit the best bakery in middle England before a further forty locks to Braunston (including the Buckby flight) and Blisworth and Braunston tunnels. On then towards Rugby via the North Oxford Canal (where she will call in to "The Canal Shop" to pick up an "AirHead"), she'll 'turn around' at some point sometime early in 2016 retracing her wake to Braunston about the middle or end of January if not iced in.

Feb. and Mar .2016 are scheduled for the South Oxford Canal between Braunston  Napton, Banbury and Oxford. This would have been the not-so-funny part of the life of a working boatman in the 19th century. Ice and severe cold can be a daily part of winter cruising in Middle England and it is not unusual for boats to be 'frozen in' for weeks.

This is the real purpose of the trip:

to prove Pogue and [Pentargon] can live off-grid in the worst possible conditions.

 We rely on The Daily Express to deliver its annual promise of a wicked winter just this once. The last time it got it right was 1963.

Arriving in Oxford towards the end of March (come ice, hail, rain or shine!)  Pentargon will descend Duke's Cut and drop onto the mighty River: the Isis later the Thames will take her by Abingdon, Reading, Windsor and Shepperton to Teddington. There she re-enters tidal water in mid to late April for her [eventual] return to Dartford Creek where there is (or will be) unfinished business with the "Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek aka Steam Crane Wharf".

 

Slough Uxbridge Boxmoor

Work in Progress over Crimbo.

West Drayton to Slough

Two days from Hanwell to Morrisons for milk

Three Bridges to sleep on! 

Lengthsman Chris gets us to the E5 bus.

Buses always lead to hinterland exploration.

Hanwell was a madhouse back in the day, later upgraded to a lunatic asylum.

Westminster serves as the 21stC equivalent 

 

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY!

Hanwell and a bottle of wine

SUNDAY

13/12/2015 Work in Progress

Bow Limehouse Brentford

SATURDAY

Pentargon ships water over the larboard in short seas, in the middle of London,

and tripped over a 2metre bow wave.

Mad .. mad .. mad ..

And later?

Boring as watching paint drying

 

I've tried in vain to find an internet link which describes what a "short sea" is, with no success, so here is my own! "A short sea" is a coaster's worst nightmare. Off the North Foreland is a great place to encounter short seas. I was out there about ten years ago in the small hours on a 40' ketch and to say it was 'interesting' is to totally understate the experience. Sailor's call a long sea one where the waves are smooth and far apart and a short sea is the exact opposite.I thought my 'short sea' days were behind til I took [Pentargon] out of [Limehouse] for Brentford on a beautiful, calm sunny Saturday at the end of October in 2015. Probably the balmiest day you possibly could have and Pentargon encountered short seas. In the middle of London.

Hang in there awhile til we get that writ large.

 SHORT SEAS UNDER LONDON BRIDGE

It was fukn hair-raisin.

 

Ingress to Bow via Cymbeline!

We mentioned an original intention of leaving Dartford on exceptional highs predicted for the end of October and attempting a continuous passage, using tidal power only, from Kent to Brentford. Such a feat has neither been attempted nor achieved in modern times by a narrowoat, although I await evidence of lightermen of old doing it. (link: CymbeIine)  

It would require Pentargon to be on the Thames as high up to Crayfordness as possible, ready to go at slack water about dawn, aiming at a Richmond High of 1600 and giving a total 'window' of 8+hrs. We knew from previous passages of the top end, that a 1315 Limehouse dep. would put us at Brentford between 1615 and 1645. We had no figures for the lower river but, from previous passages between Bow and Dartford on Pentargon, gauged that from the Darent Barrier to Bugsby's Reach should take about 3hrs at which time the tide would be racing up Greenwich Reach at over 5kts carrying us past Newcastle Draw Dock at almost 10mph.

But all that beautiful plan was now discarded. The trip we were now to Bow Lock in Bow Creek. The delay til 5pm Saturday (knowing sunset was an hour later) put Ingress Pier and Swanscombe (Broadness) Creek in our sights. In the event we arrived off Ingress in rapidly deepening dusk at 7pm and threw the anchor close to shore but far out enough we thought to keep the boat afloat at bottom of tide. We brewed up and cooked up and Crispy took some photographs. And the boat bottomed. And leaned over 7º as Springers with v bottoms are prone to do. It was about 100m too far in, but we are the first narrowboat ever to engage in this exercise!

At 3am there would be another top of tide where we could make "adjustments".

3am we were both up admiring the view and the floating Pentargon Springer when we decided to weigh anchor, move the boat 200m towards the fairway (out to sea for land-lubbers) and drop anchor again. We wanted water under the boat at turn'o'tide. Back to sleep. After breakfast with the last of the tide falling away, Pogue noticed the anchor rope going slack. Realising the boat was still too close to shore t we quickly started the engine, drove up to  the anchor and shipped it, swung the boat in an arc to ensure it would stay afloat in a still-falling tide and set a westerly course towards London.

This is what real sailing is about. "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley" and ne'er more so than on the briny ocean. The clock was at 10. The tide would not turn for almost an hour. But we were free. So we poddled up the southerly side of the estuary in almost slack water in the general direction of the QE2 bridge

Correctly we should have been looking at crossing to the North but there be dragons: a whole line of rather big ships and no sight line for the Long Reach on that side. We had tried to talk with London VTS but their radio equipment is set up to deal with very big boats and aerials about 100' above the water, so we just motored on. Their radar head at Crayfordness would pick us out eventually. Once we had a nice sight line, we took Pentargon right out into the centre of the channel to go under [QE2]. We were aware of traffic but didn't want to go Northside in case one of the tubs decided to do a [four and two], although we reckoned we'd hear them talking to VTS well in advance.

The tide having just turned, the most likely traffic would be from behind. The sloop Ajax was making way up-river behind us under power and sail. She was fairly hard in to the Northside when we saw her change tack and make for the south bank. Looking down-river we saw a huge ferry turning the corner at [Stone Ness] and decided it would be VERY prudent to adopt a similar course as Ajax. Tiddlers are not SUPPOSED to be in the centre of the fairway. Knowing VTS could see us on radar, we tried calling to assure them but again "Station calling London VTS, unreadable". Well bollox to you then!

[Cymbeline] passed us about 10 minutes later as we hugged the Littlebrook coolers. She had given us a warning blast a while back passing under [QE2] presumably frightening the livin' shit out of the motor traffic 100' above her.

Ajax rounded Crayfordness well ahead of us. (She was bound for Erith) and about the same time Cymbeline rounded it enroute Dagenham. Our GPS at 1145 showed we were doing 2.3kts going up the 'wrong' side of the Long Reach!  our clocks and tables showed us the tide should have turned though it did not show on the water. About time to make ourselves street legal! Look up and down the river and hard to starboard just short of Dartford Creek, right angles to the fairway, cross over to Purfleet clear of  the dragons and steady her parallel to the North Bank one we were over there.

Howzat look on radar, VTS?

Dartford to Bow - Stage One

Pentargon Springer spent ten weeks in Dartford Creek during the Summer of 2015. Mid-October it was time to move on or at least plan it. Tide tables were consulted as the boat was parked on top of a mudbank and could only be floated off at a Tilbury high of OVER 6.3m. Such tides are always Springs; that's how The River works and such tides only happen twice a month and then only if you are lucky.

The original intent was to leave on exceptional highs expected at the end of October and, by careful timing, attempt a continuous passage from Kent to Brentford Thameslock in one swoop. To the knowledge of this scribe, such a feat has never been attempted or achieved and certainly not in modern times and would require Pentargon to be on the River, ready to go at slack water at dawn aiming at a Brentford High about 1500hrs thus giving a total elapsed time of 8hrs. We had no previous figures to go by but from previous passages between Bow Creek and Dartford Creek gauged that from the Mardyke outlet opposite the Darent Floof Relief Barrier to Bugsby's reach should take about 3hrs at which time the tide would be racing up Greenwich Reach at over 5kts.

In the event, this plan was scuppered on Thu.Oct15. when Pogue Muhone got wind of a word that, during the 'exceptional highs' he had hoped to use, the Thames Barrier might be lowered to prevent London flooding. Timing was crucial. 17thOct was tail-end of the mid-month highs after which the boat could not be floated off for at least a fortnight!

Because of a long-standing appointment for Fri.16th, and the last useable tide Sat.16th, life suddenly became interesting. The Tilbury high would be 6.3m at 4pm (1500GMT since we are still on BST). Sunset was 6pm (http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/london?month=10) and nautical twilight 7.15pm. A phone call confirmed "Crispy Nails", Pogue's preferred bo'sun available, ready, willing and able to come aboard midday Saturday. Two weeks was telescoped into two days as the boat was made ready for sea.

Pentargon floats with the tide rather than being driven by a huge engine. The tiny Lister is able to push her along in still water at 3kts. Once freed of the bank and floated down over the lock-sill she could take a gently falling tide down Dartford Creek to the Darent Flood Relief Barrier and out onto the Thames, which would be flowing towards the North Sea at 3to6kts. The moment she slipped moorings at Lock Quay she was totally committed. There was no turning back and no access to land until and unless she went all the way to Gravesend Town Pier some 6mls away. Although Pentargon is fitted with nav lights for 'night-driving', Pogue has more sense than to fly-boat on the lower Thames. Town lights merge with house lights merge with car lights merge with marine navigation lights in a visual cacophony that confuses spatial perception and makes for great stress and confusion.

Because she is under 11m in length, Pentargon is classed as a 'small recreational craft' by the Port of London Authority. She can, to all intents and purposes come and go as she pleases on tidal water, but in reality she is a 36' long, 7' high steel tank which can paint a massive blob on PLA radar. Most of the 'small recreational boats' are tupperware and Pogue knows PLA radar could shit themselves if they saw a massive radar blob ejecting from the Darent and heading downstream in a fast-ebbing tide.

He likes to tell them the boat's passage plan but it is impossible to contact them by VHF from the Creek or even in the Long Reach.

Once the boat had been heaved off the shelf (and that could have been a story in itself!) and gotten by the sill it was a matter of planning what to do when one hit the River. We delayed intentionally til about 5pm knowing that sunset was an hour later and put Ingress pier and Swanscombe Creek in our sights. In the event we arrived off Ingress Pier in rapidly deepening dusk at 7pm and threw the anchor. Time for some sleep. During the night the tide would finish its descent, rise some 6+m and fall again, before 'our' tide began to flood about 1030am on the morrow morn.

 

 

Welcome Facebook Friends All Over from Pentargon

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 (book antiqua) 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! 

 

Site actively  WIP.  This time I [think I] mean 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 here for hot link

Pentargon's Crazy 2013 New Year

 Click  ... for a hot link to another place in the cloud where all will be revealed

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

The mere thought of it now is making me tired. Just THINKING about it. But the boat had to be there ready for when Cropredy lock25 re-opened so we didn't get snookered enroute to the Thames

Norton Junction to Marston Doles

IN ONE DAY.  I kid you not. The tunnel, the descent, the Gongoozler's Rest breakfast (Jackie, Avril you are masters of the art of feeding hungry boaters and the HONEY is divine) The run to Napton, the climb and eventually the mooring up in pitch black of night. Wait for the hot link to the detailed journal

Three Locks to Stoke Breurne

Under NO circumstances may you pass Stoke without dining in the Indian Restaurant. Trust me on this til I have time to write about it

Berko to Three Locks

Gimme time I have to get the feckin boat to the Thames

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

PentargonSpringer and Pogue cracked how to transfer from Brentford Thames Lock to Bow Lock in 8hrs rather than the three or four days it might take overland. By harnessing the tides, a motley crew which included Danny Creedon and Tony Buckland locked out of Brentford at 0750 on 15th June 2013 and locked in at Bow Lock at 1550 on the same day. Below will eventually be a picture of Bow Locks when I can find a suitable one.
       Meanwhile enjoy a careened sailing brig near Dover in the early part of the 19th Century

Basingstoke Canal successfully navigated in mid May

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 had a horrific week by Lower Ham Road after an engine failure. It turned out to be a loose olive union on the tap on top of the port tank. Hindsight is wonderful. After waiting a whole week for a Lister specialist who, eventually, could not attend, Pogue located and fixed the problem hisself. The horror was provided by a combination of speeding boats and howling gales causing Pentargon to be repeatedly bashed off an adjacent tree while Pogue was away, arranging for repairs and over-nighting at the land house. Serious damage was done to the cruiser deck railings, which were finally 'repaired' (well actually bodged up) at Ponders End in late August. It is well nigh impossible to keep Pentargon off a weather shore in even a moderate  breeze; the windage is considerable on narrowboats. Lesson learned

HOME TO PENTARGON SPRINGER

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, exactly three months to the day after she was supposed to go in for ten days. "Canal Time" is a fact of life on t'cut. However 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. 

 

The Irish word for "tomorrow" is 'amárach'. The difference between 'amárach' and 'manyana' is that the Irish word conveys or suggests nothing like the sense of urgency of the Spanish. 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 price range.  Early in 2011 she re-appeared at £13000 and 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 glitches, add 'extras', purchase a mooring for 2012, fund the annual boat 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 ungenerous?] offer. So I searched 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), 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 could 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. And it is NOT the back of a fag packet as I innocently expected when I decided to make a pitch for

 

" template for an agreement for the sale and purchase of

a 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 take

appropriate 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 bingding 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, quantatative easing, IOUs or anything else except a CHEQUE. There will be a wait of many days while they clear the cheque. They will tell YOU thay 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..

 

EMPTOR CAVEAT 

 (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" 13BHP@2000rpm Weight 635 lb

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