...    P E N T A R G O N  ...  S P R I N G E R  ..



unassuming and tatty narrowboat cruises the "Longest Friendliest Village in England"

HOME PAGE
   First view ... Welton Hythe ... 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'. 

 "Pentargon" is a hotlink.

"PENTARGON" means 'vantage point' or 'nice view' in Kernowek, the native language of Cornwall.

The word does NOT rhyme with a military building in Washington. 

DAY BY DAY 

Slough Uxbridge Boxmoor

7th Nov 2015 Slough arm on a #PogueAwayDay. On returning to Pentargon, Pogue decided to light the Hampshire. The diary for that day goes thus.
ariel 14 (check time of sunset!)

"It pissed all morning so 1o/c start. Also S. winds gusting. Sarah's boat was inside another longboat so over an hour was spent uncoupling boats and roping them around before getting under way. 1420. Towards Slough and winding hole. Turn boat with wind assistance, return to berth and tie up, including restoring shore power. 1630. Back to Pentargon to warm up the boat and the dinner. Do some house-keeping + farceberk 2200 ish to bed. Pretty ok but cabin too hot"

"Fire was made up with 25 walnut sized nuggets. Followed by 25 oranges and lemons. Flame thrower was used while charging the meth crucible (10min) and left on for a further 20mins. by which time the fluttering was finished and the fire was under way. . The air regulator was brought down to 4mm until the chimney pipe was really hot. Regulator was closed and the air vent stopped off. 7am it was possible to restart it on the remnant coals using the accellerator."

Weybridge library 11oc Fri 8th Dec 2017

West Drayton to Slough

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY 

I'd stopped by [Morrisons at Yiewsley] to fettle and locate a Grand Union Milestone. In finding the milestone, I also discovered the butt end of a canal I'd not seen before ...  just by the Packet Boat Marina. Looking up my A-Z and Nicholson's I discovered "The Slough Arm". It had been mentioned by an acquaintance, but didn't register at the time. Passing previously, I believed this little spur to be part of a marina but now discovered it was some five miles long. At the intersection, there was no sign at all of anything interesting but I was keen to find Sarah's boat which I understood to be down there 'at High Line'. Tiller hard over and [Pentargon Springer] stuck her nose in. There was a muddy but  well-used towpath on the left side.

Also on the left, a huge derelict warehouse indicated previous commercial or industrial activity. Closer observation showed the 'warehouse' to be stuffed to the very roof with fly-tip.. ... allegation ... Obviously, it must be some real estate which C&RT does not even know it owns and has been opportunistically commandeered by entrepreneurs to dispose cheaply of spoil they were paid thousands to get rid of legally. ... allegation ends ... Some day this opportunism may cost C&RT tens or hundreds of thousands to get rid of: if the building does not burst its seams first and dump all its contents across the towpath and into the canal.

The Slough Arm is well-described in Wikipedia. Feel free to look up the details. I need to deal  with some sustained "leaf-mugging" and may be gone awhile. I googled "leaf mugging" and to my great surprise discovered the only reference and description on t'internet is right here within this website and neatly incorporates a link to a rambling conversation playing around the subject on  canalworld.net

From [Pentargon Springer's] own website then:-  " Leaf mugging occurs when the propeller picks up and retains on the blades sodden and partly submerged or suspended leaves, reducing the ability of the prop to move the boat forward ... Provided it is anticipated or recognised, by stopping the prop for a moment this action will cause the water-flow over the blades to clear the prop ... Sometimes a momentary selection of reverse, speeds up the process and when forward is re-engaged,  it is possible and likely you will  see the leaves been churned away from the stern." 

 Another vegetable challenge on the Slough Arm is floating pennywort of which there is no shortage. This nasty and intrusive plant was introduced to England by aquatic garden centres in or about 1980 is becoming a particular nuisance in the London area. Luckily for me, it was not 'all joined up' during my visit and I was able to navigate through til arriving under the M25 at which point tying up for a cuppa and a stroll was deemed to be in order.

These 'strolls' are an essential element of my odyssey. I'm known to explore my surroundings intimately for "opportunities". An overhead bridge with traffic is an invitation to check above it for bus stops (well! not today on the M25!). Finding a bus stop is an opportunity to find where its bus goes. A copse is an invitation to check out the contents: mushrooms in Autumn, wild garlic in Spring, rose hips in Winter, bullace in Summer, maybe a spindle bush or an apple tree. The possibilities are endless. I was scheduled to meet Sarah on the following day, so I decided to wander right down to the end of the Slough Arm in the interim. To the "Basin".

Crikey! Could it ever use the attentions of a Lengthsman

 However, what most took my fancy was a five mile stretch of cut (apart from 500m of linear mooring at Highline) ... completely devoid of boats ... while just a few miles away the London cut is teeming with boats often multi-moored. It is for others to extol the virtues of the Slough Arm as a mooring place, but could I suggest to C&RT that The Slough Arm could become a "Site of Special DisInterest" where enforcement officers would concentrate on licenses only?

Putting an optimistic notice up in the Slough Arm inviting Winter Mooring does not cut the mustard unless it includes the word "free". The fact that the Slough Arm has absolutely NO facilities would ensure that those who availed of the free mooring would, BY DEFINITION, have to travel five miles back and forth to Yiewsley for waste disposal, water and groceries. The constant canal traffic thus ensuing could only help to free up the bottom and disperse rotten leaves more evenly.  It might even help to make vegetable soup out of the pennywort?

 

Or not?

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!

Three Bridges to sleep on! Credit Lengthsman Chris for getting us to the E5 bus.

  For a lone ranger, without the company of another boat, The Hanwell Flight is a bit of a climb. Arriving at Three Bridges from below is a hard day's work and a good excuse to tie up and admire the genius of a very famous Victorian Engineer, who contrived to pass a railway line UNDER a canal which had a road passing OVER it. Wikipedia says Three Bridges (a transport intersection designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel) is an "ancient monument". And correctly it is TWO bridges, the canal aquaduct and the road bridge, but when you see it and how it is built you will not quibble over how many bridges are there.

Located where the north-south aligned Windmill Lane passes over east-west aligned Grand Union Canal, the canal goes over a railway line aligned NE-SW. There are in fact only TWO bridges at "Three Bridges" (road-over-canal and canal-over-rail) but the road the canal the railway and the bridges are stacked, one above another, with the road on top of the canal which is on top of the railway which is in a very deep cutting below the canal.

It was a nice day, sunny and light, ideal for a spot of house-keeping and even sleep over. The morrow morning, up early, we met Lengthsman Chris heading towards Northwood Top. Enquiring whether we were going up, he kindly offered to set the lock! I have great time for the canal people "on the ground": people like Chris who are the salt of the earth. We took his offer and this being the last lock for quite some time, We could get milk for a late breakfast at Morrisons in Yiewsley where Pentargon Springer has it's very own mooring device [picture].

After the Yewesley breakfast we moved on and around the corner discovered a whole hew housing development incorporated into a 'new' Tesco of maybe it's vice-versa. Astounded to find RINGS, we tied up and decided to advance a little "inside carpentry". With a a day or two in hand before our date with Sarah (who was,we had now established), at the "Highline" down the Slough Arm and not "Highline" on the Paddo as we'd expected.

Hanwell and a bottle of wine


This story involved a small fleet of dutch motor launches and a gang of lovely dutchmen who trailered their boats over and dropped their boats into the Paddington arm at highline, did a London ring down the Paddo and Regents out at Limehouse, going out on the same tide as Pentargon but vanishing upriver within minutes of getting out of the traps. They overnighted somewhere in the Brentford area and caught up with Pentargon as she laboured solo up 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! 


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. The Hanwell Flight itself runs behind Ealing Hospital and is, I believe, a listed momument and former lunatic asylum.

Clitheroe is the first lock out of Brentford and from there to Osterley the canal runs very close to the M4. There is a weir and the whole area is covered with trees which cause 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, we came upon a small flotilla of tupperware sporting Dutch Flags which we'd last seen in Limehouse lock on Saturday. 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 flottila. 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 Walloons and chuffed to find an Irishman on a narrowboat they had last seen in East London in Limehouse Lock.

Out of the blue 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 Willowtree Paddo, slipped them and did a London Ring before the closures at Vicky Park. 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! 

For me nothing changed 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 it was likely that every lock to Brentford would be set for him. Pentargon got just one lock, the next and so I slogged away slowly, to "Three Bridges"

Arriving short of 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.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ... ships carpenter ... xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


An ongoing project inside the main cabin is somewhat disruptive, to make massive amounts of storage space in what will later become the spare bed. The area designated as 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 and 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.   

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 on Harrods Furniture Depository 

 

I've tried in vain to find an internet link which describes "short sea" 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 for 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 waves are smooth and far apart; a short sea is the exact opposite. I thought my 'short sea' days were behind til I took [Pentargon] out of [Limehouse] at 1.30pm for Brentford on a beautiful, calm sunny Saturday on 31st of October 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.

 


We shipped water over the larboard in a short sea in the middle of London. and tripped over a 2metre bow wave. Mad .. mad .. mad .. .. and later?  Boring as watching the paint dry on Harrods Furniture Depository.

I've tried in vain to find an internet link which describes or defines a "short sea"  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 "a rolling sea".  A short sea is the exact opposite.

I thought my 'short sea' days were behind me '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. 

We were already more than a little wound up by the ape who was working [Limehouse] Lock. No! Not the the South African navy ... He never gives us any trouble ...  The one I'd not seen before is an ape who thinks it is his bounden duty to give it large to boaters, especially those in scruffy little coasters. He knows as much about lock-keeping as I do about antidisestablishmentarianism but Crispy and myself decided as soon as we got clear of the lock in the company of "Deep Thought" to let it go. 

We had been talking with "Deep Thought" earlier and planning our moves.There were three rather engaging Tupperware Pots all tied up together and booked out for 1315. I'd phoned in earlier to book 1330 (that being three hours before the London Bridge High prediction of 1625BST)  and knew "Deep Thought" had done something similar. DT was going right up to Teddington bound for a new winter berth at Shepperton. Seeing as it's impossible to empty [Limehouse] (of water!) I reckoned Team Tupperware would be released as a unit and let away, and then the heavyweights sent down. The ape decided to stuff all five boats in together. Fukn cretin. Nobody with half a brain mixes plastic with steel in a lock like Limehouse.

 "Deep Thought" is a very elegant 60 footer in immaculate condition. Nothing on the roof [Jess Good] but the nicest skipper you could ever come across: no pretensions, no delusions. And his wifely crew the same. Those who know ["Pentargon.Springer"] know she is the antithesis of chic. She does extraordinary things perhaps but she ain't ever going to win concours d'elegance. ... 

"Deep Thought", with a powerful engine, intended to 'go for it'. (Pentargon drifts along with the tide and usually takes about four hours for the passage to Brentford Thames Lock). We were out of the lock like a hare from the traps and into the tide, a bit choppy, well actually quite choppy, and had made a good 100m on "Deep Thought" by the time she blasted her horn and shot out. Long before we had reached the ["Hermes"] fuel barge, "Deep Thought" was already under the centre of Tower Bridge, having passed us within minutes. By the time we made Tower Bridge in very heavy seas she'd vanished upriver! 

[Pentargon Springer] encountered her biggest ever side-on wave just before the Tower when a heavily laden cruiser going at full bore generated a 2metre breaking bow wave which lashed into the side of our boat. It was the breaking component that caused Pentargon to delay lifting for a nano-second. We shipped  water over the gunnel 1/4 second before we were lifted two metres up and slid down the other side. Glad to report both crew are hardy sailors who retained both their dignity and their breakfasts. In retrospect I recall that was the moment Pogue decided to adapt Pentargon to Class D Inland Waters, which actually happend in July 2017 at Gailey Wharf

I advise ANY narrowboat AGAINST going up the River on Saturdays.

The seas lasted right up to Westminster after which things calmed down hugely. By Vauxhall the surface was like a sheet of glass and really the next two hours was just a matter of holding the rudder through bridge after bridge and mile after mile while repeating out mantra "we come this way because it takes three hours instead of three days". Suffice to say we arrived at Brentford Thameslock right at top of tide having taken a 30 minute break down hear Fulham earlier, where we attended to a little engine glitch ... as you do ... 1730 we were on the sliding mooring waiting for tide and lock-keeper  Diary notes that 1830 we were "in, tied up, saw martin off, got milk 1803 at Morrisons brought the boat up to [M93], went through to GlaxoSmithKline and moored 001"

Crispy was on his bus by 6pm. Pogue snuck up to the Gauging Lock, planted a daffodil bulb at Milestone 93 and continued up to a favoured mooring by the A40. Later a dander up to Clitheroe with a windlass ensured the lock would be set for first light. 

Ingress to Bow via Cymbeline!

We mentioned an original intention of leaving Dartford on exceptional highs predicted for the end of October 2015 to attempt 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 have second hand evidence of watermen of old doing it under oar.

(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 Bosun Martin 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.A "four & two" refers to four short blasts on a ship's whistle followed by two short blasts. it means the ship is slipping away from a straboard mooring and turning left in the river to proceed to sea.

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 north side by Cross Ness when we saw her change tack and make for the south bank. Looking down-river we saw a huge ferry turning the corner 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 and hard in. (She was bound for Erith) and about the same time Cymbeline rounded it in the middle of the fairway enroute for Dagenham Dock. Our GPS at 1145 showed we were doing 2.3kts going up the 'wrong' side of the Long Reach!  Our clocks and tables showed the tide should have turned, though it did not appear so 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?Shall we hold watch on 14 then?

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 Flood 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 usable 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 along on the tide rather than being driven by a huge engine. The Lister SR2 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 3 to 4kts. 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.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

 

 

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


After all the blundering and messing in November and December, Pentargon arrived back in the Lea at 2349 on 31st December with 11 minutes remaining on his all-singing all-dancing £825 2013 Gold Licence. Pogue had originally planned to have Pentargon heaved out at Stansted Abbotts before Crimbo, but late 2013 reality will probably make an even better story than the 2013 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 will be spent on the Lea Navigation and the River 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

 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".

 NEW YEAR 2014 

 Our 2014 New Year story really begins in Brentford, on the bridge above the tidal Lock on  Monday 30th Dec 2013 but the roots of Pentargon's Seasonal Festivities went back exactly one week to Monday 23rd Dec 2013 when Pogue nursed Pentargon into Brentford after a lunatic solo blast of 100 locks and 94 miles down the Grand Union Canal from Braunston to Brentford in 72hrs, to find on arrival in the semi-tidal that Thames Lock was unmanned with the lockies gone off for Christmas.

Next 'official' opening would be in January.

'Twas blowing an unbelievable hooley on 23rdDec2013 in London so even if Pogue and Pentargon had gotten onto the River that day, they would have had to huddle in the tidal Thames just outside Thames Lock 'til the storm passed and hope for a calmer daylit slot, on a future day, to float down to Limehouse. [It was subsequently discovered that Limehouse lockies had also gone home for Christmas].

"Future days" in this case would be Xmas Eve, Xmas Day, Boxing Day and so on. Very sociable 

Pentargon was by now slotted into a favourite mooring in the semi-tidal, just a hundred metres upstream of the exit onto the tidal. In all the circumstances the right thing would be to leave the boat there and go home. For Once, The Right Thing Was Expeditiously Done. 

CHRISTMAS and BOXING DAY were spent at home with wife, a son and a granny. They would be all be dispersing after the Noeline festivities, giving an excellent excuse for returning to the boat to check the stern-gland and water in the bilge. You know the sort of things that draw one on board.

Pogue travelled back from land house in Furrock to floating country cottage in Brentford.Family situation was that  SunWun was away ski-ing in the Alps, SunToo was in Kiwiland's South Island for the interim. Wife was honouring a long-standing and much anticipated New Year invitation at Bude in Cornwall. All this had been planned months ago and as part of the original plan, Pogue was going to rest and sleep and chill through the New Year period with the boat land-side at Stabbits. Build up energy for whatever might be ahead?

But now Pogue would be chilling on board Pentargon.. (literally! as all his heating charcoal was spent). Pentargon had been moored at Thames Lock for a week. Pogue was expecting someone might have noticed; someone might let us through the lock at 1030/1130 on Mon30Dec, so as to be able to use a favourable tide and the very short day that was in it, to loop down to Limehouse before dark and get in before dark and thus onto the Lee Navigation and the River Lea. We could then wander up to Stansted Abbotts to get Pentargon under that crane before the New Year. That is what we call Plan A and plan A was now heading with remarkleable alacrity down shit creek without the proverbial paddle.

PogueMuHone is an inveterate optimist. He still hoped that if Pentargon were to be on the actual holding bollards by the Thames Lock early on the first 'working' day after Christmas, somebody might possibly come along with a 'key in their pocket' , as it were, open a gate [just to check the hydraulics were working] and he could escape? 

Thus the story of New Year 2014 began at Brentford

on the bridge above the tidal lock on Mon30thDec. 

 

 THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE NEW YEAR 2014

 Morning of 30th, Pogue had one of his 'little ideas' and took two small diesel cans down to the Jet station by Kew Bridge and brought back about 12L of 'insurance'. It had been some time since fuel had been purchased for the boat. In fact the last 'refill' was at Aynho down near Bicester on the Oxford Canal quite some time ago. To get to and from the Jet station, Pogue had to cross the bridge over the lock.

At 1030 on Mon30thDec, he was standing on the bridge, with a can of diesel in each mitt, watching the rising of the tide and dreaming of lock gates magically opening within the hour, when the local C&RT manager, who is an 'old friend/acquaintance' passed by.

He bid Pogue the sentiments of the Season and confirmed that earlier he had checked the lock-keeping arrangements (which are not in his brief even though Pogue KNOWS he has a key in his pocket but suffers from advanced jobs-worth-iness).

 "The lock" (sez yer man) "has been booked 'especially' for you, 1330 Thurs 02 Jan 2014".

Yeah!

Right!

Sunset on Thu 2 Jan 2014 would be at 1603z, two and a half hours after the time I'd be let go. Takes three hours or more on a good day to get to Limehouse from the Brent; more like three and a half. AND you arrive in the pool of London with an edd tide running at five knots. Getting out of Thames Lock at 1330 was pointless. It would be just getting dark at Westminster with at least thirty minutes to go to Limehouse, including that infamous section under Blackfriars and London Bridges in wild winds.

NoWay! Jóse!

As well as which, gales were forecast to parade across the British Isles one after another for the foreseeable future. Last thing you need in a Narrow Boat in fading light on the River is a gale and torrential rain. Even if it is supposed to be in your back.

Do you wonder why we use the word "suppose"

It may not be immediately obvious, even to a seasoned sailor/navigator, that the tidal Thames is a Law Unto Itself as regards wind direction. Lay a course from Brentford to Limehouse and you get about 080 degrees true . But check the Imray chart and find that, at any given moment, you may be tracking 358 (at Chiswick RNLI station) or 185 (at Barn Elms reach). Not a lot of sailors realise that as you steam by the venerable Houses of Parliament at Westminster you are actually tracking due North South.  

Pentargon is not [yet] FITTED with working navigation lights so she can't be used 'at night' on the tidal Thames. (She does have the parts etc on board and Pogue is a competent and confident sparkie but it would take some time to wire them all up, being as how they were never on a priority list.)

Some mental arithmetic, and a hunch, establishes in short order that this is NOT going to work.

What to do?

 Well! The ONLY reason Pentargon is at Brentford is to use the tide to make a four-hour passage devoid of locks, instead of a three or four-day passage via Camden and Duckett's Cut and almost twenty locks. There are ten between where Pentargon lay on the Brent and Bull's Bridge about three miles up t'cut.The Gauging Lock first up, Clitheroe's next, by the A40 and Osterley upstream. Then the Hanwell flight of five by Ealing hospital, followed by Hanwell Top, followed by Norwood Top. 

 1130/Dec30, ship's log notes "engine started".

Strategies are now being jettisoned and the tactics bag is being pulled out and dusted.

It is going to be a long haul across London. No Lock from Norwood Top to the three at Camden, one at St.Pancras, then City Road, Sturt, Acton before the haul by Borough market and Victoria Park to Old Ford, finishing with the infamous trio in Duckett's Cut. Upper, Middle and Lower.

Tony Buckland is contacted, is free and will meet the boat somewhere about the middle of the Ealing Five. Which he does and is a very welcome addition. Tony owns NB "Black Jack" hard by Alperton and this is his manor. He is also excellent crew and company. We have sailed together on deeper waters and are old friends.

Suffice to say we moor up at Tesco Bulls Bridge about 1600 having done 3.5mls and ten locks in four and a half hours. Pentargon's trusty ole Lister has had enough at that stage and it would be foolish to proceed due to the Black Smoke Syndrome. The SR2 would simply overheat and cut out. Tony leaves the boat at that point; he lives only a few miles away near Alperton.

Pogue sets about some 'house-keeping' and degrades his self to visit Tesco and in general just wastes time as the engine cools down a bit. By 1800, having done some mental arithmetic and sqez a hunch or two, he realises it could take three hours to get to Alperton, possibly a bit more, as Pentargon's engine does not like being driven hard later in the day due to The Black Smoke Syndrome.

So he sets off. Details of the section shall, for the moment, remain vague. Suffice to say that he tied up eventually outside Sainsbury's in Alperton at 2330, some five and a half hours after leaving Bulls Bridge for a 'two-hour' drive over seven miles of cut with no lock. Time to get the head down, get some sleep, before new Year's Eve, while Pentargon spends the night cooling her engine down to ambient.

 

NEW YEAR'S EVE 2013

Tony had promised to rejoin the boat 'in the morning' which he did at 1130 by Sainsbury's Kensal Green, a two hour boat drive for Pentargon from her overnight mooring at Sainsbury's Alperton. The team then proceeded through Little Venice, Lissom Grove and Regent's Park where an enforced stop was entertained to allow Pentargon to cool down before negotiating the Islington tunnel. 

Onwards to Camden Locks and finally, just as we had cleared them, the engine unexpectedly and very suddenly cut out at 1600. Nothing for it but to rope Pentargon to safety and go to a nearby Turkish take-away for Lamachun and Turkish Tea. Neither will we mention the smashing of the ship's lamp against a bridge abuttment in windy conditions under rope control before Pentargon reached a safe place to tie up at about 1640.

Tony took his leave just as darkness descended and left Pogue to his own devices. About 1800, Pogue decided to check the systems as there was something about this cut-out which was different from previous ones.

You may recall a couple of cans of Jet diesel early yesterday morning at Kew Bridge?

Bought as 'insurance' against unforeseen circumstances?

The port tank was dry and the port tank is where the diesel which drives the engine lives.

Pogue cashed in his 'insurance' by emptying the two cans into the port tank and decided, since the Black Smoke Syndrome was not the issue, that he would press on. Engine overheating was not the problem. Fuel starvation was. We know for the future what happens when she runs out of diesel.  We know she self-primes and starts in no time just by using the decompressers. 

Pogue knows London waterways very well and the series of locks that eventually lead to Victoria Park. Advance was achieved lock by lock, pound by pound, always keeping the engine as unstressed as possible. And so by 2230 we were descending Vicky Park Old Ford Lock. For purposes of orientation we are close to the famous East End market at Roman Road and on home ground. An hour and a half to go before New Year and all's well.

Ahead of us now the most trying and contrary bit of cut in all of London and possibly the South East Region. Correctly named the Hertfordshire Union Canal but known to all and sundry as Duckett's Cut, it is a mile long stretch with three locks, hilariously known as Upper, Middle and Lower. It takes every bit of skill and training and an awful lot of luck to cross this stretch at night in good weather with crew. At 2245 on New Year's Eve, Pogue Muhone was doing it alone with a gale brewing. This is where fifty years of sailing experience begins to come in handy. 

The last time I'd gone across Duckett's there was thin sheet ice on it and I was shepherding Sarah Grimstone who could make no headway against the ice in her Tupperware Yoghurt Pot. So I acted as a sort of ice-breaker and minder. Sarah had only recently come onto the cut and was learning as she went. Fair dues she has become not just a great buddy, with a wicked sense of humour, but a skilled skipper whom I am delighted to have as a friend. 

Luck was on the side of the brave (foolhardy?) and Pentargon emerged at Fish Island at 2345, onto the Lea, into a howling southerly gale with torrential rain, seeking a mooring. It was surprisingly quiet on the towpath, but the weather being absolutely foul that might be expected? However the parking was wall-to-wall. It would be necessary not just to find a secure mooring but find a place to park in any event!

Because it is New Year's Eve, any sort of lunacy with intent is not only POSSIBLE in East London but PROBABLE. Last year at Bow Interchange, Pentargon was left overnight just for ONE night and a window was smashed. Decision was taken to turn South into the teeth of the gale and make up to E20 Old Ford Lock. We are going to HAVE to upload diesel at Bow before heading up the Lea anyway. Luckily the [electric] gates were open. A text book entrance and tie up was effected without mishap at 2357, howling winds, rain bucketing down and fireworks beginning to go off in the murk.

Pogue got onto the landing stage and, this being an automated lock, used his key to switch it on just as cheers began to ring out from the high-rise flats all around, where everyone in balconies in the lee of the wind was commencing to usher in 2014. Nobody saw the sodden yellow-suited sailor pressing the button to close the gates. As the fireworks started to bang, the electric sluice paddles began to open, the festive crowd was counting down ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one and with a huge cheer from the invisible but noisy revellers, the boat lowered itself down and out of the wind.

Down in the sheltered pound below Old Ford, one sleeps like a baby. One did. The head was down before 0030 and next thing Pogue vaguely remembers is daylight and the hands of the clock showing 8.30am. It has become a mission nowadays to produce a bowl of porridge on board as an antidote to winter mornings. This was done. Then washing up. Then dressing up. Then having a look in the bilges. Checking the batteries. Checking the clock. 1100 GMT

 NEW YEAR 

Pogue pulls live human body, suffering from hypothermia, from canal, organises NHS to take victim away and is told the subject is showing 30degC. but will live. 

NEW YEARS DAY JANUARY 1 2014 / 1100GMT

We may as well get out of this dark place into a bit of sunlight somewhere down the cut. Start engines. Unleash boat and pull in fenders. Check throttle settings. Check tiller. Engage gear. Start moving. Check wash and heading. Just a small curve in the towpath and we will be under the Green Road. Something in the water. Against the wall.

Looks humanoid. Is it a black mannekin someone tipped in the canal? Oh Fcuk. It's human, half hanging onto the wall. Alive. Braying. No safety chains on curve. No ladder. Oh Fcuk.

Enter save-a-fellow-man-mode. Details sketchy. He's fully conscious. That water is cold. You could die of hypothermia  in minutes. Forget all the shit they taught you about saving an "overboard". None of it applies or will work here. I'm a lone ranger. I don't have one crew to call 999. I don't have a second crewman to throw a lifebelt. I don't have a third crewman to establish our exact location for the emergency services. I don't have a fourth crewman to watch the victim and whisper confident sweet nothings in his ear.

The boat is reversed slowly until it's as close as possible to the rescue and prop disconnected. He seems compos mentis which is good because shortly before death he would get dopey, drowsy, uncooperative . He's told to grab anything he can grab at the back of the boat, find the rudder with his feet, so I can manhandle him on board. He does not want to be helpful. He's frightened and dis-orientated. . I take a mooring pin and tell him if he does not grab some part of the boat NOW, I'll belt him one with the pin and then tie him to the boat with a mooring line. He gets the message and within seconds he's on deck saturated and holding onto his little bag of courage.

He is out of his head. Stoned. Well! The Lord be thanked for small mercies. That'll help keep him alive a bit longer than usual. 999 is called for an ambulance. Boat is tied up as well as circumstances allow. Emergency cannot locate our position and ask what street we're on. Fcukkit! We're not on a street. We're in a boat. In a canal. Near a lock. Called Old Ford Lock.

They still can't place me. Can I find a street name. I ask a jogger. He turns out to be "non-English" but offers E20. Jazes."E20" is an alternative title for a TV soap called East Enders and is used by a canalside charity for disabled ex-servicemen. (Great bunch of guys by the way, providing a great service to themselves, the canal community and the general area.

Where are we?

Gotta cover this guy up somehow and get help. But not from an East European jogger. Pogue  orders the victim to sit on the deck, covered with a fleece dressing gown, told to not even THINK of moving. Pogue runs back up the cut, across the bridge, looking for a street name. Dace Road is offered by a passer by. Pogue is on the mobile. They cannot locate Dace Road.

Pogue looks back to the boat, from the bridge. The rescued one is off the boat and hoofing it down the towpath. Race back,  grab the mooring pin, grab him and show him the mooring pin. Offer to club him unless he returns at once to the place where-at he was left. He gets the drift.

Pogue  explains that with one swipe of the pin, he will if necessary make him totally immovable for some considerable time. He seems to understand the reasoning and becomes quite cooperative. The nee-naw finds us, after what seems to be an age and control is handed to them. They're good! Job done; they tell me there is no paperwork. The last fukki thing I want is paperwork. I just want to get into a sunny spot.

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" [email protected] Weight 635 lb