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

Here's how Pentargon ensured emergency power to charge phones and run GPS in the early days.  The device could act as a jump start OR even supplement or replace the leisure circuit.  Keen piece of kit for anyone buying a typical "budget" narrow-boat where nothing is known to work properly or trusted?  Fuzzy photo is intentional so that you have to ask me to produce a working copy of this.

My email is at the bottom of the page. Pentargon is an OFF-GRID boat with a vengeance!  While cruising, the device was clamped across the starter battery and charged by the alternator when the engine was running.  The sockets were bridged across the crocodile clips to provide a 12v supply which could be left on the roof while cruising, if not in "charge" mode.  It was independent of boat, car, marina ...  

In 2012, when Pentargon began touring under my helm, the only practical way to keep in touch with the outside world while cruising inland waters was by mobile phone ... provided you had a signal ... and a charged phone ... Believe it or not, the day after I had taken ownership, I had to climb 150' upwards to Braunston village to phone my wife to tell her I was safe.  The boat had no way to charge a phone back then.  Nor indeed had ANY canal boat.   I needed to find ways of ensuring that I always had a charged phone and a signal. (story) 

The device was made on the kitchen table at the 'home' late 2011 when I was driving around the  country looking at my 'list of possible boats'.  That "Power Station" kept my Garmin GPS and mobile phone peaked during those treks ... independent of the car.  Being totally mobile, it could be hawked onto boats or anywhere.  Working on it honed my lateral thinking and many features of Pentargon have come about by thinking outside the box.  Pentargon was the first canal boat in England to have a proper composting toilet.  It was (and still is!) the only narrow boat on the cut to be heated by a Hampshire Heater  which uses restaurant grade charcoal to heat the sleeping quarters in Winter.   I always advise new owners to think outside the box or go on a #PogueAwayDay to discover how to think outside the box and get your canal craftswomanship together ... 

Pentargon had a Dyson handheld DC30 vac. from the beginning, the only item on board that requires mains to recharge its battery, but only because I have not yet got round to changing the leisure circuits to 24V.  To answer the inevitable question "Is it cold in Winter?" read the "Heat" page. 

occurs when the propeller picks up and retains sodden and partly submerged or suspended leaves on the blades, reducing or negating the ability of the prop to move the boat forward.  Generally, (provided it is anticipated or recognised) if you stop the prop for a moment, the forward way causes the water-flow over the blades to clear the prop.  Sometimes momentary selection of reverse speeds up the clearing and when drive is re-engaged it is possible to see the leaves been churned away from the stern.  Experience teaches one to avoid or minimize these hazards and makes one aware of where to look for trouble.  If bank-side contractors have been chopping at rose briars and dropping them in the cut, the cuttings hang about for weeks either sinking as they rot or accumulating at the head-race above the top gate of locks.  If the water is very cold, pour a kettle of hot into the weed-hatch before putting your your hands in and if you need more time, have more hot water on the way.  Don't waste your onboard supply!  Nick the water from the cut. It'll be going back there! WF


SAM SPRINGER ... UNSUNG GENIUS OF THE CUT      This article contains          hotlinks .

   In 1973, Sam Springer was said to have been topping his 36' boats in wood: well, the ones he actually topped and they were not many as most boats left Market Harborough to be completed elsewhere.  It is rumoured that Pentargon was topped or re-topped at some point in the 90s and that existing windows were cut in and others  shut up!  Pentargon does look 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 a 2012/13 'archeological dig' to remove almost a ton of un-needed 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 to the most inhospitable inland waters in total safety

She's been tested in Class D water and has behaved impeccably in sea trials.


Cat D: refers to tidal rivers and estuaries where significant wave height could be expected to be 2 metres.

In 2017, at Gailey Wharf, the freeboard was raised to 750mm to comply with "Class D" (as defined above ) 

Cat.C is as far as we intended to take her. Defined as "inland" tidal rivers, estuaries, lakes and lochs where significant wave height could  'not be expected to be more than 1.2 metres at any time'. 

Pentargon had a pending date with the Bristol Channel later that Summer.

Cat D [inland waterways] is found in very few places, such as the Thames Estuary, the Bristol Channel and the Humber and you do not need to be there to experience Class D conditions.   Pentargon has weathered bow waves from Thames Clippers in the Greenwich Reach well in excess of 2m and before the freeboard was raised in Gailey


Pentargon is a much larger boat inside than is apparent from her 36' overall. She is constructed with a bulkhead to gunnel height separating the engine room from the galley behind which is a 'cruiser' deck: 8ft of cruiser deck. But the inside space is larger than found on most 42' boats as there is no waste in the bow. The main bunk goes right under the fire-escape window and is a full 4'6" double at gunnel height with a crew berth under it! 

During 2013, Pentargon's fore 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 ... within this under bed space resides a black plastic tank which can hold enough drinking water for almost a years' cruising in keeping with the stated aim of living 'off grid'.

 The fore-cabin (with en-suite bathroom, Hampshire heater, wardrobes and storage) is thermally isolated from the aft cabin. Pentargon is built for two in luxury with an addition crew bunk under the main bunk. In winter, the fore- cabin is permanently maintained at around 14-18C. Early on, the  Hampshire was tweaked, modified and re-positioned to duct warm air into the space under the bed. Originally , it had 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 crew bunk can be made VERY warm and the main bed very comfortable. The water tank retains heat for some time in operation as indeed do all the furnishings and contents.

With over 6'3" head-room, the aft cabin is not directly heated but is always warmer than outside. The mess and galley co-exist with considerable storage and [summer] bunk space, but she can accommodate two more with the galley bunk made up!

On-board there are only two of anything: cutlery, ware, table space, seats, steam cookers. glasses, chairs.  Also,  everything of board has [at least] two uses; if it hasn't its days are numbered.  A glass flower vase holds EXACTLY enough water (150ml) to make a cuppa and the mugs hold exactly that amount of tea, coffee, cocoa, soup or whatever and THEY double up to hold the right amount of Weetabix for breakfast.