which lights up when you hover over it,you have found a 'hot-link'.
"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.
13/12/2015 Work in Progress
Pentargon ships water over the larboard in short seas, in the middle of London,
and tripped over a 2metre bow wave.
Mad .. mad .. mad ..
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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
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..
(Buyer beware. Never give a sucker an even break. Don't buy a pig in a poke. etc.)
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
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