Maritime Heritage afloat in Dartford Creek and Slough

Management Side of what might have been a Great Maritime idea

Bow Limehouse Brentford

 We shipped water over the larboard in a short sea in the middle of London. and tripped over a 2metre bow wave. Mad .. mad .. mad .. .. and later?  Boring as watching the paint dry on Harrods Furniture Depository.

I've tried in vain to find an internet link which describes or defines a "short sea"  with no success, so here is my own! "A short sea" is a coaster's worst nightmare. Off the North Foreland is a great place to encounter short seas. I was out there about ten years ago in the small hours on a 40' ketch and to say it was 'interesting' is to totally understate the experience. Sailor's call a long sea one where the waves are smooth and far apart "a rolling sea".  A short sea is the exact opposite.

I thought my 'short sea' days were behind me 'til I took [Pentargon] out of [Limehouse] for Brentford on a beautiful, calm sunny Saturday at the end of October in 2015. Probably the balmiest day you possibly could have and Pentargon encountered short seas. In the middle of London.

Hang in there awhile til we get that writ large.


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.