... ... ... Seven years in an unassuming narrowboat on the waters of the "longest, friendliest village in England"  



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Posted on December 14, 2018 at 5:45 AM

KILBURN LIBRARY Friday14thDec2018

Graffiti noted on a Hackney Towpath.

"The Future is Now ... Only Later"

Pentargon's 2019 future began in sometime in 2009, when my [present] wife suggested I might consider coming in off the tide ... to inland waterways perhaps?... after a lifetime messing with boats and tidal water  ...I was born by the sea, grew up by the sea and had used salty, tidal water and a detailed knowledge of the Laws of Flotation all my life ... well! fifty or more years of all my life as of 2009 ... and my wife had already put up with ten years of my 'going down to the seas again and again' She had recently been hearing stories of escapades in Le Manche (aka The Channel) and feared if it went on, I might someday be brought home to her in a body bag ... or not at all ... So, I prepared a wish list of desirable features (as I saw them) in a free-floating man-cave which would spend it's years in various ditches around England.

The wish list was small but perfectly formed and significantly detailed (link) ... sailors tend to have fastidious temperaments. (story) 

I'd been advised early on, if I searched long enough for a suitable boat,

and if a soupcon of due diligence was applied ... the boat would find ME ...

Having searched and searched for many months and hundreds of driving miles,

nothing came up I wanted, even though my list was short and my needs were simple.

Then, late in 2011, Pentargon found me.

Pentargon matched all items on my wish list. (story£) and ownership transferred on Thursday 27th January 2012. (story) Pentargon departed WHMarina (story) near Daventry on Friday 28th January 2012 to park overnight nearby. (story) On Saturday, 29th January 2012, my dear wife, who happened to be passing that morning on Watling Street (A5) enroute to Sheffield, came aboard for a look and a little drive. But a bitter east wind fore-shortened the voyage so we turned and shivered our way back to the mooring.


Later that afternoon, second day of ownership, Pentargon  began what was to become a seven-year voyage around England culminating with the longest solo ring of England's waters ever attempted or achieved and which is currently the subject of a book (currently in the writing) Covering four miles, including a terrifying 2000yd blunder through Braunston Tunnel, to moor above Braunston Top Lock overnight. On the morrow's dawning, Pentargon descended the Braunston flight to the centre of the canal universe. A  cunning plan was hatched fornenst The Stop House ... I would join the Oxford and proceed to Hillmorton, within toddling distance of Grantham Bridge Boat Services. Moored up near Normandy, no not THAT Normandy, the other one the total mileage for the two days was 15. That night, I mused on the enormity of what had been done in an alien environment during the first two days of what was to become the next eight years of our future together. The future was then and "later" is NOW. 

Only now do I feel competent to roll the past into the future and admit what transpired during the firt 24hrs. Single handed, Pentargon had been taken out of a marina, moored overnight and slept in by candlelight with no heat.(story). On the following day, with just a little tiller practice, Braunston tunnel had been shot and" target="_blank">Pentargon tied up in the gloom above the top lock. On the Sunday morning, the remainder of the flight had been descended and, after breakfast, the Oxford with its funny bridges tackled, to moor that afternoon above Hillmorton locks. 48hrs after leaving the land and entering the cut the skipper was freezing, but ready to meet the nice people at Grantham Bridge Boat Services the following day and be in and out with a new bottom by the end of the week.  That was before I became acquainted with canal time (story)


 The dry-dock at Hillmorton was to feature majorly in my life for THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS. The time in and out of the boatyard and the adjacent cut contributed positively to the subsequent life and times of the Springer "Pentargon" over THE NEXT EIGHT YEARS. From Feb to May 2012, 'canal time' became an in-escapable reality and I learned to live with it as Pentargon put on weight: one metric tonne to be approximately precise, (story) represented by a replacement bottom of 6mm steel plate under the hand of a master welder, one Paul Demmelsweek

Hertford Library Fri 27thSep2019 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx continue editing from here

... "Canal Time" is the only reality on England's Inland Waterways.

Everything else is an illusion brought about by aeither a shortage or a surfeit of alcohol or stale bread.


Posted on December 5, 2018 at 11:30 AM

5thDec2018 at Pancras Library 1600-1700

16thDec2018 Home Computer

7thJan2019 Pancras Library 0815-0945 enroute to BL

27thSep2019 Hertford Library

I swore never to go into Central London again ... But ... sometimes, needs must

It has been a busy two months ... I needed to consider getting a new battery from Denka.My Banner Energy Bull Leisure has not been treated to the very best of attention over the past five years and probably should be replaced.And more solar panels might be useful. Denka is at Watford. (Faraday Road since you ask!) I need to replenish a Calor Gas Bottle and top up my diesel cans. And I need to be closer to the land house. I need to spend some time in the British Library too, unfinished business. And I need quick access to computer terminals in various libraries, so I can get this site up to speed and cleaned up.

Visiting Miro at Bow  ... I have neglected some 'friends' who teach me a lot, sometimes how NOT to do things.

Fuelled at Hackney Wick ... Charcoal heats onboard. State of the art, bespoke, uses lumpwood charcoal

and the only source for bulk buying  is Hackney Wick

Back on the Magic Ring  ... I do love my magic ring. No-one else EVER parks there. They don't know how to tie up!

Places me at a strategic point in East London from which all points are easily accessed, by bus, tube, overground, mainline, dlr

Bow Back Rivers Revisited

Now being touted by C&RT as a convenient London "ring", I have yet to meet ANYONE in London who actually uses it. I have gone round it a couple of times. I was even on the inaugeral run, piloting a huge 68'x12'6" fatbeam same size as Red Watch at Canalability, on which I got my stripes in 2010. Pentargon has now done in thrice, as in thrice round she flew in 2018

Gian, Reub and Johan Limehouse to Vicky Park

Had some Eurpoean students staying over at the land house to polish up their Englishness and become familiar with English as she are spoke. A day out on Pentargon from Limehouse to Vicky Park gave them an unforgettable experience late in 2018

Onwards to Rosemary Branch

Nov28th Helen LilyV saw me passing hers going through Haggerston enroute for Rosemary Branch. The destination is British Library but not too quickly. A couple of miles is more than enough to keep the leisures topped up and it is more [productive than just running the engine while moored.

Piloting Neil and Trevor Limehouse to Vicky Park

Tues.4th Dec, my friend Trevor texted at 13.50GMT to say the boat he was piloting had passed the Belfast. It entered Limehouse about 3pm and moored for the night with mine just out of sight around the corner.  The following day, I came on board to erm help them up Commercial Road lock for breakfast at Franks. Fortified. we did Salmon Road, Johnsons, Mile End, Old Ford Vicky and pulled in at the corner of Vicky as dusk fell.

Visiting Market Harborough and Foxton Staircase by Car

Sat 1stDec. Diane and I were invited to overnight with our prospective new in-laws near Leicester, up the M11 to the A14 and detoured to find Market Harborough Basin and then the Foxton Stairs where Diane spied a goldcrest as we parked! Onwards then to Tayla's parents and a very pleasant evening with Paul and Sharyn and Ásgeir and Tayla and Arlo.

An Overnight in the Leicester suburbs

2nd Dec. We slept well overnight and got a fine breakfast on Sunday before letting the SatNav take us home ... 

Visiting Brenda's Attic

Sat.8th Driven down from Essex for a party 'that evening' at John Morris' which turned out to be at 1oc. We dived into Guildford as we were and went onwards to Brenda's later for the evening and overnighted. I'd been down to stay with Brenda earlier in the month to dig all the boat gear out of her attic, sort it, repack it and have it ready to put in our car on the Sunday. We had lunch and scarpered about 3pm to get home in daylight, unloading the boxes into the garage before darkness fell.  

You h'ain't 'eard the 'arf of it

Mon10Dec. The European chaps were so enamoured of the last 'voyage' they asked for an encore which happened on Mon10Dec. They had fun finding the boat and actually came on board 1oc. We cast off immediately for Sturt's which was in view and in favour, then City, in favour. Through Islington tunnel my new distance glasses were useless and had to be discarded. We scraped through and onwards through KingsX, up Pancras Lock in company and all three Camdens where we let the company away. On through Regents Park and Maida Vale tunnel to clear skies and a ticking clock as we entered Paddington basin looking for opportunities which were thin on the ground.

Piloting R+J Rosemary Paddington

... always fun jockeying for space in the basin. On arrival, it was stuffed. With darkness imminent, pentargon was tied up for a short while down the basin, (beyond the cleats and tied to another boats bobbin at one end with the mudweight holding the stern in). Luckily, during a temporary respite in the wind, I located a tiny space between two sets of boats and a RING to tie to. Mark (ShaunSoto) and I had some interesting chats before he decided to move on and I grabbed the quay-side. For a Christmas lie-over.

Settling in at Paddington.

Chris and John on Fender Boat appeared the following day, and tied up around me to their own rings for a day or two. I was coming and going all the time but sleeping on board most nights. They got a quayside berth alonside Sat15th and were attended on Sunday by Red on his fuel barge. Paul in the Butty-in-the-Corner introduced and was interested in the Hampshire Heater.  Mikael arrived outside outside me on Sunday, while I was servicing the boat to leave it liveable. There had been a massive downpour the previous day and the bilges had to be pumped out, along with stored deck-water which was siphoned down to the bilges. Initial work at preparing the stern gland for future work and running the engine first to the starter battery, then to the leisures, got both well-hyped. Discovered the downpour had leaked onto the mattress via the front hatch but had to clean out and fire up the Hampshire as the chaps had not turned up. When troubles come, they come not single spies but in battalions

Guests overnighting at Paddo

Johannes in contact with Diane 8pm to say he can't FIND the boat. This was hilarious. I had forgotten I'd left the boys OFF way down the basin and although I had shown them the ring I would moor to, they had been gone before the boat was moved. They were told the boat was tied to the side and OUTSIDE the tube entrance. Eventually they found it. Why were they on board anyway? Well, after ours they had moved to airbnb at Leytonstone to be near the city and their time was up two days before their bus would leave Victoria for Europe. Smart lads! They asked whether they could overnight on Pentargon for a couple of nights. And of course they could. They did not get the hang of the Hampshire but luckily, the weather was mild and they survived.


Posted on November 16, 2018 at 11:05 AM

Nov16/[email protected] Library

I heard on Monday12th afternoon that Acton's Lock would be closed from 7am the following morning for an indefinite period.

I am running out of charcoal and I am above the lock right now and maybe 400m from Cat&Mutton Bridge. My charcoal supplier is below the lock ...  as in below Acton's lock and below Old Ford Vicky. Add in Duckett's three locks while you're at it and include that infamous centre pound in the future plans.

It's after 3pm; it will get dark in about 90minutes; the fire is not yet light nor even set and the last of the charcoal needs grading.That is a fruity pursuit dealt with elsewhere. Grapes, apricots, lemons, oranges and pomelos is part of the charcoal burner ritual... but first ... !

In spite of lateness of the hour, I must away from Regents Row, where with Diane's help, I decluttered and removed a carload of stuff last Sunday11th ... and had been parked up for almost a week since abandoning the bush mooring at Broadway.

left turn into Ducketts and park overnight  above the top lock at Parnell Road


Posted on November 3, 2018 at 6:55 AM


London is mad.

Down at Ducketts top lock about 3pm on Friday, basking in the sun and looking forward to a few days respite, a passing boater told me the Old Ford lock which was closing for ten days was the one at Vicky Pk. NOT the one at E20.  I decided to cast off forthwith and follow them, knowing full well they would probably have to turn the lock. As soon as let go, the prop collected a plastic bag, a dive down the weedhatch had it off in minutes, and I preened my forward planning for the foresight of setting up the weedhatch for instant access. Steaming up to the lock as my friends were entering, I rammed in beside them and up we went. It was now dark and they were pulling over for the night. But I had nowhere to park so I motoered on Getting to the end of the line and the rings, I found a butterfly bush growing out of a crack in the concrete.

Yes! I tied to it so I could "lockwheel" forward to find something more substantial for over-nighting. The bush would hold it for the mo. but a passing boat would drag my 10tonne off in a second. Shanking to Broadway market under cover of darkness, somewhere, anywhere, to tie up was a prime objective. With boats moored everywhere, mostly doubled and even tripled, there was no where any where or was there?

A single ring at the beginning of a massive line of boats would provide a solution of sorts. I  went back to untie from the butterfly bush and move forward to the ring. The only option was to get the bow in and use the front painter to make purchase, while I sorted out something better. This time I at least had security up front. How to pull the stern in? Initially my trusty mudweight was utilised and then a convenient maple was heavily trimmed with the on-board loppers to provide a more secure stern hold ... That's tonight looked after. AND. it allowed me to get to an 8oc booking at Pancras Library using the 394 and 214 buses!

Upon return there was a tupperware pot tied to mine. But a reasonable discussion with the liveaboard ensued and he was willing to move along so I couls escape as soon as I found a forward mooring. I pottered upstream and wonder of wonders found 13meters free after Acton. So I scarpered at once, shared the lock with a Bug and raced up to my chosen spot. Still there and shoe horned in to the side behind Jeremy and Claire and in front of Callum's Dawncraft.

Sun. Pancras library 1155 ...

to be continued or amended as more facts come to light or more imagination enlightens ...

Gunmaker Wharf ... 276 488 8 Scoffs

Posted on October 31, 2018 at 4:20 AM

Keep those dogies moving ... make new villages ... charge them batteries ...

Returning from my Irish visit to the boat under the bridge at Bow Locks on Thursday25th, it made sense to get outa there ... Everything was fine on board,

Moving would be an excuse to charge the batteries, there was no reason to be there any longer, cold weather was forecast, and old time was due to hit at the weekend. The Magic Ring is a suntrap and the solars get some action afternoons. It is easy to get home from and I had had a doctor's appointment on 29th. Miro had whispered that Old Ford was to close Nov5. for "ten days"  ... uh huh  I need to be topside to get to Sarah's knees-up at Haggerston on 10th so after just a few days in a well-favoured mooring I shoved off (on Mon.29th). While Od Ford was filling, I shanked upstream to identify possible tie ups in the dark.

Nothing much doing: the bank was solid from the lock to Ducketts turn. By the time I had cleared Old Ford, dusk was heavily falling and it was only 4.30pm. Approaching Ducketts, a boat was exiting to go up the Lea, indicating a distinct possibility that he had come down the locks and they would all be in favour ... which they were. In the dark though, the powerful searchlights now favoured by London cyclists were a constant source of bother. Approaching locks was a blind flying exercise, but all the bottom gates were open, as in both sides. The guy coming down must have an enormous ego. His boat seemed to be less than wide but it was tupperware and summa dem is 7'6" narrow.

So I got topside of the top lock and was able to grab two rings just beyond the yellow top mushrooms and in no time was securely purchased and able to tend to fire lighting. It is not cold but "practice ahead of need" has been my many-time saviour, so some under cover of darkness grading on the bankside was in order. And then a fire of sorts, rooting out long forgotten meths. and blowtorch and tongs and flint and steel and