... ... Eight years in an un-assuming narrowboat on the waters of the "longest, friendliest village in England"  



view:  full / summary

TOMORROW is today's future

Posted on December 14, 2018 at 5:45 AM

"The Future is Now, Only Later"... (Hackney towpath graffiti)

Today may be your Future!


Pentargon's 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  ...

My wife had already put up with ten years of

my   'going down to the seas again and again'  

She heard stories of escapades in The Channel

and feared that, if it went on,

I might someday be brought home to her

in a body bag .....or maybe not at all ...

So, I prepared a wish list for a free floating man-cave which would spend its years on inland waterways, having been advised early on, that if I searched long enough for a suitable boat, and  applied due diligence ... the boat would find ME ... After searching for many months and driving  many hundreds of miles nothing came up  ... until Pentargon found me. Pentargon matched most of the items on my wish list and ownership transferred on 27th January 2012. The following day Pentargon departed a Marina near Daventry to stop overnight at Norton Junction. [2012-06-15 08.13 2947 GATEWAY]  Later that afternoon, on the second day of ownership, Pentargon set off on what would become an eight-year voyage around England culminating in the longest solo ring of England's waters ever achieved or so I believe ... Covering four miles, including a terrifying 2000yd blunder through Braunston Tunnel, she was moored below the top lock overnight.  On the morrow's misty dawning, Pentargon descended the rest of the Braunston flight to the centre of the canal universe. 

The arrival went totally unnoticed even by a Muscovy duck. (2012-01-29 11.55 0519)  

Having tarried awhile fornenst the Stop House, I decided to join the North Oxford  and proceed in the directioion of Hillmorton. The departure also went totally unnoticed unless some finely-tuned ear heard the distinctive sound  of a Lister SR2 on the mildest of tickovers traversing a deserted village (2012-01-29 11.13 0511) shrouded in mist.  That evening, after a few practice moorings,(2012-01-30 10.09.06) I tied up just beyond the Barby Straight (2012-01-10 12.37 DSCF0408) and  mused on the enormity of what had been achieved in an alien environment during the first two days of what was to become the next eight years of our future together. 

Fifty years of sea-sailing had not prepared me for this. 

Single handedly, Pentargon had been taken out of a marina, moored overnight and slept in by candlelight with no heat.  The following evening,  Braunston tunnel had been shot and  Pentargon had tied up in the gloom below the top lock.  Early on the Sunday morning, the remaining five locks had been had been descended and the Oxford with its funny bridges had been tackled, to moor that afternoon near  Hillmorton.  48hrs after leaving 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.  The following day, I would become acquainted with  [storyCANAL TIME  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 (2012-03-01 08.19 F0724) contributed positively to the subsequent life and times of the Springer over the next eight years. Between February and May, Canal Time became an inescapable reality and I learned to live with it as Pentargon put on weight by a replacement bottom of 6mm steel plate laid on by a master fabricator (2012-03-31 413 11.24).  This chapter ties in with "Archimedes" (2012-02-22 12.29 gauging)

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

©walltoall 2020


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

18thNov2019 Stratford Library while moored to a White Post

16thJan2020 Chrisp St. Library

I swore I would never 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 it is how NOT to do things.

Fuelled at Hackney Wick

... Charcoal heater on board.  State of the art.  Bespoke.  Uses lumpwood charcoal.  See the webpage "HEAT"  

Back on the Magic Ring 

Between 16th and 24th Oct, I was visiting Ireland to try to sort out my TSB account leaving the boat under Twelve Trees Bridge at Bow.I was back on board at 11oc on 25th to move away (17days!) to the magic ring at 13.50. Tied up and away  for bank at 14.00 with pressure cooker for home. 26th I was back on board for a visit and again on Sunday between 13.000 and 14.00. Overnight clocks went back to old time

25Oct? 29th Oct... I love my magic ring. No-one else EVER parks there.  They don't know how to find it !

Places me at a strategic point in East London from which all points are easily accessed, by public conveyance

I motored down to Miro at 1700 on 29th Oct, (it is now old time) departed 1800 for Old Ford. 19.00 through Old Ford , 20.00, moored up above top lock in Ducketts. Fire had been lit earlier ar 4pm. Topped up 9.30pm and so to bed.  Still warm at 7.30 half hour after I had got up and had my porridge and statins and omega3 and tea. Diary says I spent the day housekeeping and grading charcoal. 2ndNov. therapy at 11 and back on board at 3pm departing 4pm to tie up in the dark at broadway, 6pm.

Bow Back Rivers Revisited  Now touted by C&RT as a convenient London "ring", I have yet to meet ANYONE in London who actually uses it.  I've gone round it a few times.   I was on the inaugeral run, piloting a huge 68'x12'6" fatbeam. Same size as Canalability's Red Watch, on which I got my stripes in 2010.  In 2018, I piloted this boat from Eel Pie Island, all the way to Limehouse and into the basin. In fact the skipper did all the work and I only made a few comments.

GianMarco, Reuben and Johannes from Limehouse to Vicky Park

mon. 19th Nov. Diane had some European students staying over at the land house to polish up their Englishness and become familiar with de languish as she are spoke.  A day out on Pentargon from Limehouse to Vicky Park gave them an unforgettable experience. Picked them up ay Limehouse and went as far as the blue bridge by Vicky Park 

28th Nov.2018. Onwards to Rosemary Branch.  Helen LilyV saw me passing hers going through Haggerston enroute for Rosemary Branch.  My destination?  The 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 running the engine moored.

Piloting Neil and Trevor Limehouse to Vicky Park

Tues.4th Dec,2018

my friend Trevor texted at 13.50GMT to say the boat he was piloting had passed Tower Bridge. 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 pilot 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. The skipper is just a tad too cocky.  But Islington Tunnel took a bite out of his cabin, because he would not listen to my advice.  His problem not mine. And he did eventually get it into Paddo to park on the C&RT moorings.

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 Dec 2018 

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


Mon 10th Dec ...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.

WIP 16/01/2020 Chrisp St.


Posted on November 16, 2018 at 11:05 AM

Nov16/2018 [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... and corn flakes ...  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 Dec... 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

BUTTERFLY BUSH AND A MAPLE. Friday 2nd November 2018

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