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



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Giggity Bridge

Posted by PentargonSpringer on June 16, 2017 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (0)

une 8th 2017 was a Thursday and the day the UK would go to the polls to return a government with  a  ticket to screw the proletariat senseless and run amok. For the next five years. [Their plan back-fired spectacularly when youthful voters (from 18yo to 108yrs) turned out in force on the morrow] ...  

It has ALWAYS been my habit to vote even if it takes some bother, having learned that in Ireland where I always took an active interest in politics. Men died so I could inherit the democratic right to declare from time to time that such and such was sound (or a gobshite!) ...  Ireland has Proportional Representation built into it's form of democracy, which allows the PEOPLE to tell the government what it may or may not do ...

The misfortunate UK voters are not considered intelligent enough to handle numbers so they get to put an x in one box, to ensure the establishment always rule. With my boat west of Wolverhampton and my vote in Essex, UK2017 was going to be a bother. So a plan was hatched to take a coach from Wolverhampton via Birmingham to London on 7th, cast my vote on Jun8th, do some gardening at the stone frigate after that, and return to the boat some days later to descend towards Kidderminster or Stourbridge, where I would be within reach of the navigable Severn.

... Shit Happens ...

Just in case it ever happens to YOU, I should now explain that I had developed a tiny nick on my index finger somewhere between Rugely and Radford Bank early June. Maybe a bit of steel swarf in there but it was only a tiny thing and I could easily soak it in saline at home and show it to a doctor, if it got annoying.That was the plan

So during the 7th, I checked out the boat for a few days away. You know the drill, turn off switches make sure it is well tied, stern gland not dripping over much, fridge ajar, no food left to rot, hopper windows ajar for some airflow. 

I bussed it from Giggety Wharf early on a fine morning, leaving behind a fully dried out bilge and Pentargon reasonable ship-shape in case I was away longer than expected. My bus ticket would give me a nice tour of the country on routes you don't often get to by car or rail or boat. I even got to see M6J6 (Gravelly Hill) and can confirm a canal does indeed run right under the famous" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Spaghetti Junction.

And I arrived at the" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> stone frigate about 6pm that evening with basis provisions for a day or two.On the morn I was down at our polling station early, wondering why said location is only 200meters from the" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">house while a pint of milk is well over half a mile away. The finger earlier mentioned was getting a bit bothersome but I persisted in the saline soaking and did a bit on erm housekeeping deciding that it would be a very good idea indeed to hang around for the weekend.

... Shit Happened ...

Trouble was looming and the finger would become central. 

It seemed sensible to take 347/496 to Queens A+E where D. later looked after me for the day. Opinion was strong antibiotics. I later walked back into town with D. who was bound for EGKK to return to Alba so we split at the station.

By Monday Jun12, it was clear finger was in trouble so I presented at local doctor who prescribed even stronger anti-biotics ...the following morning the finger was very much worse and out of control so I biked up to Peartree and just caught 370 and 193 to A+E in Queen's Romford.

Having spent most of the day there I found myself being ambulanced to a specialist hospital way out in the depths of rural Essex beyond Chelmsford for immediate surgery which ...

... I'll spare you the gory details ... 

Suffice to say, I am ... home  ... pro-tem ... Friday 16th June 2017 wondering where a missing week went and waiting for the clock so I can a stuff a night's supply of antibiotics down my neck

TBC. Sat Jun17 23.25 and later



Oh! I almost forgot!

This is a boat blog. I can't leave the house unsupervised for at least ten to twelve days.

And hope the bilge stays dry in the interim

TBC. Tue Jun 20 14.04




At least the forecast is good for the next while ..

TBC Fri 23rd 10.13 and counting ...




  I tried to get a message through to C&RT/Liz yesterday and may even have succeeded

Staff and Worcs Stage Two. Watling Street Goodbye

Posted by PentargonSpringer on June 2, 2017 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Thursday 1st June 2017 10oc to 2pm was given over to Jamie at Gailey boatyard to weld 3mm plate all round the cruiser deck to bring the freeboard up to 760mm. Pentargon had lain over for a week for this date and boy, was it worthwhile.  The job was done with great good will and skill "on time and on budget"

It is essential to declare that the boatyard at Gailey (home base to Viking Narrowboat Hire) is far and away the most impressive yard I've come across in my time on the cut. The team has a breath-taking range of diverse skills and backgrounds, considerably more than the sum of the parts, as befits an area which was the cradle of the industrial revolution and is home to Jaguar/Land Rover. The team works together as a unified team, with great good humour and a sincere welcome for everybody and a TOTAL lack of horsemanure.  'Little Dave' had given me an idea which would provide the raw materials for remaking a throttle cable of which more later. "The Other Dave" had shown me how to fabricate a complete silencer system using gunmetal and how to apply fibreglass bandage using a bucket of water. "Big Dave" had shared knowledge of painting (a job I hate) and the carpenter (whose name is also Dave) had added to my carpentry tricks.

By 2.30pm, Pentargon was ready to move forward and onward. The throttle is still not fixed but is held at a fast tickover with a shock cord, the boat was in a shambles after having to clear the decks but we were on the way and a major conversion which has been niggling all year is fait complait. Pentargon SSR 191018 now complies with MCA Class D inland waters and the stretch of the Bristol Channel between Sharpness and Portishead is defined Class C.

1630hrs tied up at Cóve'n, Fox'n'Anchor on a convenient ring, having advanced four miles closer to Wolverhampton. A toddle down to the Co-op in the village of less tha 800yds took three minutes on the Strida and back on board by 5oc, dinner was going on for 6.30.

The tedious job of logging all the receipts I collect into the ships log was completed and up to date before retiring to bed with my favourite idle woman, Susan Woolfit. I am now on  my third reading and now know that an idle woman's breakfast is coffee, toast and marmalade at 5.45 with porridge at 9am. My cardamon seed laced coffee is ground in a mortar with a pestle although I keep a jar of laced Douwe Egberts on the side for emergency. Tomorrow morning will be an emergency as my store of doctored ground has been depleted to nothingness and I really am too tired at 9pm to start that little job. So I sew a couple of auxilary buttons onto the pockets of my FCUK shirt to hold two phones safely and prevent them going to have a look at the bottom of the canal.

The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

Posted by PentargonSpringer on May 19, 2017 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

It was originally intended that Pentargon would be at or near Liverpool for Pogue's birthday in mid May. 

As the day loomed and the boat was at a decision point at Great Haywood junction, immediate entry to the Staff & Worcs was deemed prudent, if the voyage was to advance to Bristol before Jun was out. 

In fact it was deemed prudent to get it to Wombourne before May was out but trouble was just around the corner; it always is on the cut. Nearing Penkridge, the engine began to falter with symptoms like fuel starvation.

Ron's boat (see the Macclesfield detour) was used to tow it to through the lock after Tixall Wide to find somewhere secure to tie it up and try to sort out what was wrong and fix it.

It transpired that cleaning of the port tank had been less than perfect in 2014. Also water had entered the tank over past winters through the inspection plate. Elements of diesel bug were also suspected as the fuel filter was clogged up and collapsed. At Penkridge, the lift pump gauze was replaced with the filter, the tank was given a preliminary cleaning and a jury tank rigged up. And then the rain which had been absent for weeks, nay months, all came at once. However, the engine was running and a decision was made to rest up and go to the land house, until after the monsoon. 

The weather broke fine within days, so it was deemed prudent to return to the boat on 22nd using a ticket to Atherstone that would run out on the morrow and hopping off to renew some books from the library and then advancing to Stafford by stealth. 23rd to 26th were spent removing the tank from its anchors, cleaning it out scrupulously and then washing the crud out through the [rear] stopcock into the bilges and allowing the tank to dry itself. It was refitted but with a pad under the forward end so it now sits at a slight incline. All assemby was meticulous and half a can of clean diesel (about 15L) was put in, almost half-filling the tank. The bottom of the pick-up pipe was confirmed as being clear of the floor of the tank and all pipery was secured. All this work was completed by Friday evening, 26th.

We had an advance ticket from Wolverhampton station to get us to London on the Saturday and had planned a long w/e resting and doing some house work.

The boat is at Gailey, (home to Viking Narrowboat Holidays) where we find a most efficient operation right on the side of Watling Street.  They have an experienced in-house welder who has secured a day on Thursday Jun1 to do a slight conversion on the rear cruiser deck adding 120mm of steel sheet all round to raise the "freeboard" above 760mm. Pentargon will be going into the Bristol Channel and so there are absolutle no doubts as to its seaworthiness it will comply with MCA recommendations for class D waters as laid down in MSN 1837 1st April 2013.

There is also the matter of the broken and foreshortened throttle cable with we hope "Little Dave" has a solution, using a gearchange cable over 10' long. And we have ongoing decluttering to keep us busy once the essential work is done and we are back on the road.

.. TBC ... 1458/19/05/17

... TBC ...2120/27/05/17

An interesting detour to Macclesfield

Posted by PentargonSpringer on May 17, 2017 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Pentargon arrived at Fazely junction(which is the [top] end of the Coventry Canal) end of April where Pogue was picked up by Ron and transported across country to Macclesfield to take a 26' tub south towards Birmingham. In the event three days solo took it down the Trent and Mersey from Macclesfield through Stone and Stoke on Trent to Gt. Haywood where the top of the Staff and Worcs. could take it via Pentridge to Athersley junction.It actually ended up at Penkridge later when it became the tow boat to Pentargon.

Pogue went down to Fazely from Gt. Haywood on buses to bring Pentargon up taking two days due to a throttle problem  and overnight stop-overs at Rugely and Little Haywood by Shugborough Hall before going up very early in the morning to tie up at Great Haywood and take stock.

This section of the trip had been more than a little entertaining due to the throttle cable snapping way back at Atherstone and a temporary repair failing later on. The last part of the Coventry was done with a shock cord holding the throttle part open. You ain't lived til you have motored a canboat with a fixed throttle.

50yo engineering means you do not just go to the nearest motor factor and order up a replacement throttle cable. The original was hand made so you remake the replacement. For that you need "piano wire". But nobody knows what you are talking about. By sheer luck and while staying over at Fazeley junction I got "steel tube" 1.6mm diam but it's length (3m) meant it had to be put aside awhile til further ingenuity surfaced.

  to Pentridge ... more to follow ...

It had been whispered that a marina just outside Penkridge might be able to help with bits and pieces but on getting the boat there it was found to be totally useless, so the boat moved on to Gailey wharf, the home base of Viking Afloat and the most efficient and helpful marina team we have come across since we went on the cut.

TBC ... 2130/27/05/17

Birthday and half way mark co-incide at Penkridge

Posted by PentargonSpringer on May 17, 2017 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

The sudden and unexpected  engine cut-out half way into Penkridge lock necessitated a bit of rope-work and a lie-over til sorted. Along with the broken throttle cable, it transpired there was water contamination of the port tank. The inspection plate had not been sealed before bolting it down and whenever there was rain some was seeping into the tank to feed the bio-bugs. Gunge was sucked up into the fuel filter until it was completely sealed and no more fuel could pass. Halfway into Penkridge lock the engine died. Luckily, inertia carried her through the bottom gates and she was roped through the top and bow-hauled to a safe mooring out of the way.

Over many weeks of cruising the boat had been getting progressively more untidy and disorganised. Single-handing does not lend itself to tidiness or even cleankliness and there is a constant battle between keeping the boat tidy, keeping systems running, making improvements and changes, recording progress, getting miles in and exploring the countryside ...

  ... more to follow ...

Polesworth lie-over

Posted by PentargonSpringer on April 25, 2017 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Tue 24th April 2017. Belhus library 10.09am. blog times are US east coast time (6hrs before BST)

Over the weekend at Polesworth the whole bilge got cleaned out and the stern gland checked as the boat may be here some time. The forecast for the week is pure cat with arctic air pulling snow, hail and showers down across England. The Midlands is likely to get it and Polesworth is in the Midlands. 

I got some old whit spanners in a second hand shop in Tamworth for doing up the stern gland flange nuts. I went to Tamworth station to get a month return and went "home" for the duration. Pentargon is nailed and the solars are pointing south. All electrics are switched off. So even it it pisses down the bilges are empty and ready for it. The cover is NOT up as winds are forecast to be high over the next few days.

It starts to get better towards the weekend and next week is forecast as warm. and I have therapy on Wed followed by recuperation for the afternoon.

Thursday, up and away from the house in Essex on the trusty Strida at 6.25am to catch 370/6.35 for Romford 86/7.05 an 86 for Ilford, 25/8.05 to Bow Church and finally a 205 which planted me at Euston at 9.40 just in time to catch the Northampton, using an old ticket valid to Leighton Buzzard but brazing it out.

Change of platform put me onto the Crewe train through Rugby under cover of the return part of the Tamworth ticket which got me to that nice town at 11oc.

A half mile ride to catch the Stafford 825 busand a short pedal to the boat

Overnight Friday it milled down but by 9oc the sun was shining the day was warming and it was off to the library to uopdate the blog Fri 28th April 2017 Polesworth Library. 9.35am

Atherstone lie-over

Posted by PentargonSpringer on April 19, 2017 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Atherstone has to be my favourite village so far in as much of middle England as I have covered. 

Tell me about it.

Real ale at The Angel,

real motor factors at Autoquip,

real breakfast at Café Resta,

real hardware store in Long Street, 

real trains and buses by the mooring

I haven't even STARTED

and I'm certainly not finished

...... to be continued ......

I had limped into Atherstone a week ago with a broken throttle cable. It had never been right! Not from the first day I got the boat, but in true mechanic's style had never been attended to. Even when it gave trouble a couple of years ago (trying to tell me to fix it, I did a gunter-job and sailed on. While in Atherstone, I met Mark Jordon who runs a sheet metel fabrication business from behind TNT. Mark made me steel sheets to my pattern and measurements to be welded to the cruiser deck later, to increase the freeboard and allow the boat to comply with class D estuary waters.  Seeing as how I'm planning to go down the Bristol Channel to Portishead mid summer and seeing as the boat is a registered Small Ship (SSR 161019) I may as well make it a proper sea-going boat. You will hear more about this later. At Gailey. Alongside Watling Street.

Polesworth Library Sat 27 2017

to be continued 

What is a "macerator"

Posted by PentargonSpringer on April 19, 2017 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

OED: 'macerate'  (especially with reference to food) "soften or become soft by soaking in a liquid".


8.15am Wed.19th Bridge 43a Coventry canal. A good night's sleep having been enjoyed and the sun shining in a blue sky, I've made coffee and had two boiled eggs with toast when next door's engine starts. It's a 60' floating corridor with a lovely couple on their second day's hiring. They tied up 'longside last night and we had chatted. They had rightly backed off from Lock5 before dusk and tied up the longboat beside mine and only 100m from the lock.

The bottom gates are prone to yawn when the lock is empty and the lock is prone to empty overnight so first boat up, MAY be able to gently drive into the ole using the boat to push back the gates. I'd suggested if they set out early they could probably make a clean sweep right to the top seeing as how the last boat last night had come down. All the locks should be in favour.

But, back to the morrow morn!  8.15am Wed.19th Bridge 43a Coventry canal. I hear next door's engine firing and reckon [wrongly] they are going to do a "first away" and greet them with the morning's felicitations. He sez "We have to start the engine to go to the toilet" I'm incredulous but he explains that the floating corridor needs lecky and his batteries are effectively flat. 

So he has to start the engine

to run the alternator

to make the lekky

to charge the batteries

to supply the power

to run the "macerator"

to use the toilet 

He had shared with me that some sort of heating system on board

only worked while the engine was running.

This was explained through a huge cloud of steam/smoke

emitting from an exhaust pipe. 

Pentargon has an "Airhead" composting toilet. When I want to shoot a log I just sit down on the seat and do it. As an aside, I now have a cuppa coffee each morning hand ground in Pentargon's pestle and mortar with cardamom seeds. Cardamom has excellent laxitive properties. The seeds for coffee, the pods for tea! 

Polesworth Sat.20Apr. 

Nuneaton to Atherstone in the wind

Posted by PentargonSpringer on April 19, 2017 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

This is the day the throttle cable finally breaks and the last three miles are completed with the aid of an elastic band. Including the first five locks of the Atherstone flight. In a howling wind. 

I earned this experience.

I REALLY earned this experience.

The throttle control has never been 'smooth and right' on Pentargon.

It's the original from 1973 using a "piano wire " inner and is 3.5m long.

I rarely if ever use revs so it has not been slid along its full length. It slowly seized solid.

I can tell you this now using my "hind-sight" app.

Pity I did not use foresight five years ago.

At Mancetter (where Boadicea had an unfortunate last stand against the Romans on one side of Watling Street) and fighting a foul northerly breeze. threading through moored boats, you really need a good throttle control the throttle! The lever suddenly came unbelievelably free. The wire had broken. So it was a dive for a convenient bank, tie up to discover what was wrong.

Being only two miles out from a preferred mooring plus a set of five locks, I jury rigged an elastic band to hold the throttle fixed at a highish setting and went forward, using the gearstick and tiller to get to the top lock about 4pm. Engine off then and roped the boat down the whole flight. taking over two hours and intertwining with opposite direction all the way.  

It eventually took about six hours spread over three days to completely dismantle the system and rebuild it. Still a gunterjob  as I've yet to source 1.6mm piano wire 10' long to replace the original.

Polesworth Library Sat 22Apr ... to be continued

Hawksbury to Nuneaton

Posted by PentargonSpringer on April 19, 2017 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The Coventry canal is everything the Oxford isn't and the moment you hit the last lock (all 12" of it) the evidence is clear,