PENTARGON .. SPRINGER

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

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SAM SPRINGER ... UNSUNG GENIUS OF THE CUT

This article contains hotlinks to give extra information  or explain phrases.

   In 1973, Sam Springer was said to have been topping his 36' boats in wood. We were told Pentargon was re-topped in steel at some point in the 90s and that the existing windows were cut in and older windows shut up! Looks like a steel top from a longer Springer was dropped on an older hull. Hence the unique lines and the tiny forward deck. Or so the story goes.

During an archeological dig on 2012/3 to remove almost a ton of unwanted concrete slabs from the bilges, we were unable to unearth any evidence that the original boat had EVER been tampered with.

 

For the moment it looks as though Sam worked his magic and produced the ultimate Springer:

a narrowboat that can go to sea in total safety.

She's been tested in Class D waters and has behaved impeccably in sea trials. In mid 2007, at Gailey Wharf, the freeboard was raised to 750mm to comply with "Class D inland waters" (as defined by the MCA) Cat.C includes "inland" tidal rivers, estuaries and lakes and lochs where significant wave height could  'not be expected to be more than 1.2 metres at any time'.

Cat D: refers to tidal rivers and estuaries where significant wave height couldn’t be expected to be more than 2 metres at any time. Cat D is found in a very few areas.such as the Thames Estuary, the Bristol Channel and the Humber and has Summer and Winter specs.

 

Pentargon is a much larger boat inside than is apparent from her 36' overall. With over 6'3" head-room, her discrete fore-cabin (with en suite bathroom, Hampshire heater, wardrobes and storage) can be isolated from the aft cabin where mess and galley co-exist with considerable storage space. She is built for two in erm luxury but can accommodate four, with the [Summer] galley bunk made up!  She also has some 7' of cruiser stern with a canvas cover. With air-beds and sleeping bags out on deck it might be fun for up to four young hardies?

On-board there are only two of anything: cutlery, ware, table space, seats, steam cookers and almost everything of board has two uses; if it hasn't its days are numbered. A glass flower vase holds EXACTLY enough water to make a cuppa and the mugs hold exactly that amount of tea, coffee, cocoa, soup and THEY double up to hold the right amount of weetabix  for breakfast. 

During 2013, Pentargon's front cabin was extensively modified to fit a 4'6" memory foam mattress on a slatted [IKEA} base, raising the bed level up to the gunnel line thus permitting a view out the front window. An auxiliary bunk was fitted below and athwart for Pogue's personal use in exceptionally cold weather.And.This within this under bed space resides a black plastic tank which can hold enough drinking water for almost a years' cruising.

 

The Hampshire was tweaked, modified and repositioned to provide warm air heating to the space under the bed. Pogue found that the Hampshire had originally been heating the ceiling exceptionally well and the floor not at all. Over time an ingenious heat trap was made from marble slabs cut by a monumental mason in East London. Now the cross bunk and water tank can be made warm and the water retains heat for quite some time in operation.

Maiden voyage coming up

Waiting around for the cheque to be cleared in late January 2012 gave Pogue a chance to get some work done surreptitiously, on board in the marina, to plan future itineraries and be inventive. Pentargon  is exceptionally basic and that is something you come to love about her. Her design, layout and use intentionally tap into "off-grid" and she could exist in an isolated spot without outside intervention for some weeks if necessary. 

 The engine, when running, whirls a basic 12V alternator from a 70's Peugeot, which then charges the starter battery and the leisure set together. A dedicated relay (Lucas 630) is employed to isolate the starter battery when the engine is not running or turned off. This ensures there is always punch to start the motor. In six years, the starter battery has never ever failed to start the engine in seconds ...

 

   ...   unless the stop cable has NOT been pushed home after stopping the engine ...

 

A single track of robust electric cable goes down the length of the boat directly from the leisure battery bank supplying cabin lights as it goes this cable (rated at 200+amps) is routed down the keel under the sole plates to the front of the boat.

The fridge is supplied by a spur from the heavy cables, but may eventually be wired directly to the charging splitter, (to which it should have been attached originally).

 

(This edit is ongoing late Aug 2017!)

 

NEWS regarding BW reg. 60906

I though Pentargon was acquired 12thDec2011 but as of 11th Jan 2012, it was not yet mine.It eventually came into my hands on 27th January, 2012

The new owner (me?) should be the 3rd since the boat was 'launched'. Pentargon shows clear evidence of having been built by Sam Springer in 1972/3 but may have been not registered until 1976. 

 

That would fit with a theory that she may have been bought unfinished and the first owner took time in  finishing the cabin and only registered it when ready to sail.

 

Most of this is speculation and only time and a lot of rooting will discover the facts? The fact that she has sole plates suggest work done by an experienced shipwright and evidence points to the floor having been laid at the time the hull was fabricated. The bottom lacks a keel as such but uses an ingenious bending of metal sheet to provide a slightly "V" bottom. (For rocket scientists ... the dihedral angle is 173º, and this sort of advanced solid geometry would not be expected in a simple steel tank shaped like a narrowboat! The designer and builder of Pentargon knew EXACTLY what he was doing.

 

GOOD NEWS IS NO NEWS

12thJan2012 cheque gone in for clearing. Next week maybe I get a dotted line to sign on. The survey clearly showed up that Pentargon had bottom work misdone more than once in past years culminating in the totally botched 2002 job.

 

I got some numbers and engineering know-how regarding proper re-plating. It's accurate marine engineering but I have previous.

 

I want the bottom replated in 6mm all over, because that will give her 25 years of life.

 

6mm mild steel sheet weighs 48kg per sq metre. 

I reckon it'll take about 18sq metres weighing 844kg.

 

That weight would take Pentargon down 2", lower her CofG

AND make her more steerable and less giddy.

All this and I have yet to actually sail her?  

FINDING A FIX

 

13th Jan 2011

To avoid any more botching of bottoms, it was necessary to find a specialist in Springer repairs. He should have built the boat originally or at least drank in the same pub as the welders. This  happened. Plans hatched to get the boat into dry dock for Feb06.  The delivery was fun. Out of the marina onto the Leicester arm and on to Norton Junction by the A5. Yes! THAT A5. A couple of miles along to  Braunston tunnel, a mile and a quarter of sheer terror for many narrowboat skippers, down 6 locks then an 8 mile hike via Barby to Hillmorton. Down two locks .. to the dry dock at Galbraith's Bridge and PAUL DEMELLSWEEK. In hindsight:- if only it had been that simple. However, in early May Pentargon emerged with a full new bottom, beautifully fitted by one of the best arc-welders in the country. And it emerged on budget because we did not have a time schedule to worry us.

Nor had we any more money!