Hang in there awhile til we get that writ large.
SHORT SEAS UNDER LONDON BRIDGE
It was fukn hair-raisin.
We were already more than a little wound up by the ape who was working [Limehouse] Lock. No! Not the one from the South African navy. He never gives us any trouble.
The one I've 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 giving birth 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 of 1630) and knew "Deep Thought" had done something similar but 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 to let them away, and then the heavy-weights would be 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 and in immaculate condition. Nothing on the roof [Jess Good] but the nicest skipper you could ever come across. No pretensions, no delusions. And his 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 a 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 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 dignity and lunch.
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.
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.
Work in progress! .............. coming to a laptop near you shortly.
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".
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 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 now had established, at "Highline" down the Slough Arm and not "Highline" on the Paddo as we'd expected.
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 only about three miles but contains the infamous Hanwell Flight. Ten locks in all and 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 slowly fill 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 quite 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 was for them to complete the loop back to their cars, hitch up and head home. So I suppose 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.
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.