The simple life afloat of a simple boater in a simple boat.


Water is colourless?

hat makes any body of water bigger than a barrel look blue or green ...? Why are rivers usually muddy coloured or grey ...? How does a diving bird see under water?

 Scooped out into a glass and visually examined, water is [usually] colourless. The same water, when looked at as a body, always has colour, the palette being restricted to GREY, GREEN, MUDDY. Occasionally, sea water may be blue and sometimes lakes and rivers might be black. Any other colour or hue suggests serious pollution . Except by the northern approaches to the Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey where the water is orange.

My book is named "Grey Green Muddy Water".

Over the past seven years, I have sailed on water which has [almost always] been grey, green, muddy, black or a combination. It occurred to me to research WHY this should be so and got a nerdy surprise. Most of the colour of water as a body comes from within the water itself. In a large body ... whether it be river, canal, lake or sea, water absorbs light from the red end of the light spectrum and reflects it from the blue end. 

When the sky is overcast, infra red from the solar supply will be absorbed by the moisture which IS the cloud . causing a cooler day on the surface as the cloud cover acts as a barrier and a warmer muggier night as the cloud cover acts as a warm blanket. Seas look grey on overcast days mostly because clouds filter out the sun's red light before it reaches the surface."Blue" light is reflected by water and the effect may be enhanced in sea-water and lakes containing solid particulates and vegetable and animal debris at or near the surface, which reflect the blue end of the light spectrum to make the water look bluer. The intense blue-green of tropical waters is due entirely to absorption of red light rather then reflection of blue. The tropical water tropics is "cleaner" than the murkier seas of the North Atlantic where the  'blue' is affected by suspended particles and microscopic plants.

Different hues may be produced by different suspended substances absorbing or reflecting differently.

Earth (mud is earth!) acts oppositely to water. It reflects infra red and absorbs ultra violet. Muddy water always looks brownish because it reflects and absorbs like earth. Rivers are major transporters of soil run-off, canals have the mud on the floor churned up by the first boat through in the morning and that mud remains suspended all day. Canals fed by muddy waters remain muddy H24; you can see this above and below weirs. This little gem helps boaters who know how, to harvest water for cleaning and hygiene without having to worry where the next water point is.

Peat dissolved in water absorbs almost all light frequencies. The River Shannon in Ireland and most of its lakes look very black indeed. The Shannon and its tributaries flow predominantly through ancient peat and carry that black down even to the Estuary. Tixall Wide at the top of the Staff and Worcs canal near Great Haywood is a place to see peatiness in action. 

And so ... Grey Green Muddy Water is launched ...


...GREY GREEN MUDDY WATER ... chronicles a 'relationship' between (Pentargon) and (Pogue), developed over six years activity on the inland waterways of south-eastern England between 2011 and 2018. The canvas spreads across Northants. Herts, Essex and Oxfordshire and bits of Beds., Bucks., Berks., Leics,. Warks., Surrey and Hants. come and go. Greater London is there in the earlier years before it went savage. The scope of Grey Green Muddy Waters includes the courses of the Thames and tributaries, Canals from Grand Union, Oxford and Coventry to the Trent and Mersey, the whole length of the beautiful and testing Staff.&Worcs. all the way to the Severn and the sea via Sharpness and Bristol. The "Lea and Stort Navigations" which loosely follow the [original] county boundaries of Essex and Hertfordshire to the north of London was cruised to the ends. The freshwater Thames from Oxford to Teddington including tributaries Kennet and Wey, (the latter leading to the Basingstoke Canal) were explored .  . and the tidal Thames from Teddington to Tilbury including many of its tidal tributaries.

You might consider only a sad person could have a relationship with a boat. But landlubbers bond with shoes and cars and houses and I-phones so why should a boater not bond with a boat? Over half a decade, "Pogue" bonded with "Pentargon", learning her foibles, eccentricities, strengths and weaknesses. "Personal Relationships" depending on friendships and acquaintance mean scores of people, real and imagined, inhabit a parallel dimension, flitting in and out of the water, on and off the land and popping up in Grey Green Muddy Water.

"The Cut Is The Longest, Friendliest Village In England" was a comment Pogue picked up early on that's is how it is! The Cut is more socially diverse than any other form of English society. Everybody shares the same waters, locks, trials, tribulations, laughs, beverages and boaty troubles. Some of the cut's inhabitants are totally water-based and water-borne and know no other way; others live in floating accommodation without even realising their home is actually a BOAT. More manage to morph seamlessly back and forth between one and t'other, today a boater, tomorrow a land-lubber.

(For purposes of Grey Green Muddy Water we need to define "boater" and compare it with "sailor".) WIP 20-09-2017

Pogue is a "sailor" with a life's experience (including many and long intervening breaks) of boats and water. Born by the sea, grew up by the sea, lived by the sea and took to English canals as a "Canalability" volunteer in 2010. and bought a "Springer" in late 2011 to test the limits of boat and crew as a lone cruiser on any available stretch of water in south-east England.


"Pentargon" is defined by her beam of 6'10" and her airdraft (6'10") and her 36' length overall . These dimensions allows her to slip seamlessly through any lock in the British Isles. Although there are many and varied locks, the narrowest are 7' in width and have been since the beginning. Pentargon is exactly half the length of the standard working narrow boats pulled by draught horses in the reign of George III. The length is meaningful; she can share any lock anywhere with any narrowboat her length or shorter.

"Pentargon" plied the navigations constantly from January 2012 from a land base in Essex and a marina near Rugby. In April 2015, Pentargon left Harlow, her then base on the Lee and Stort navigation, to visit Kent via Bow Creek, the Thames Estuary and Dartford Creek. Pogue was, at that time, pursuing someone else's dream which became his by association. Pentargon became the first boat in over forty years known to stay overnight in the derelict and abandoned Dartford Port. She stayed ten nights before cruising back to Harlow. On that first descent, Pentargon had carried FOUR narrowboat skippers. Pogue familiarised three others with the ways of the estuary and entered them in a VERY small list of who have ever made that trip and qualifying them for immediate membership of "Dartford Creek Navigators".  Pogue and Pentargon stayed  ten days on that visit before returnung to Harlow and Canalability.

On her second descent in June 2015, with two more [different] skippers, Pogue landed Pentargon at Steam Crane Wharf for what turned out to be a three month stay. The objective was to complete a study of tides, water, flora, fauna, opportunities, challenges and all aspects of using Dartford and Crayford Creeks for waterborne and bankside activity. Pogue interacted with Dartford people to 'reclaim' their neglected and forgotten amenity from developers and from nature itself.

In April 2016, Pogue brought Pentargon back to Dartford Creek to develop the concept of the 21c"lengthsman" for possible introduction  later to the canals of England.

"Kenya Jacaranda" sailed the waters of the Thames Gateway, between Tower Bridge and Canvey, down-river to Southend and Whitstable. She navigated the Medway from Sheerness to Rochester on weekend cruises with longer voyages down the Channel to Brixham and up the East Coast to Lowestoft.

 Her CENTRAL role was to carry 'disadvantaged' young people, primarily but not exclusively from the area known as the Thames Gateway, as supplementary  crew; learning seamanship and team-work under the guidance of the CoreCrew of  "Kenya Jacaranda" who 'advantaged' them as they sailed.

An AUXILIARY role was to provide a platform for hardier sailors (or those who would be) to log hours sailing a real sailing ship the real way. Training on a Brixham Trawler makes REAL sailors. out of plastic-tub-skiffers.

Candidates came on board to learn a centuries-old tradition that was rapidly vanishing midst today's plastic and metal. "Kenya Jacaranda' didn't carry passengers. It took 18 hardy annuals to move this floating Porsche Carrera at its optimum. The North Sea in Force 7 is no place for the faint-hearted. At one time, KJ could handle Force 10! What Force can you handle?

KJ had a GENTLER role of sail-training for the less hardy on 'overnight' trips between Tilbury and Tower Bridge. Trainees learned about wind and tide, lights and marks and the ways of the river. All this is (for the moment at least) gone west but a small team of dedicated volunteers still hold the fort. Shaun Wall. Dec.15th 2011


83 years in three small paragraphs

Between 1923 and 1937, "Torbay Lass" was a Brixham trawler. In 1937 she was 'retired' and was purchased by an Essex house builder named Bradshaw who converted her at Rainham for pleasure yachting. He took her on a voyage in 1938 just before Hitler invaded Poland. She was ordered off the water while cruising along the East coast and is believed to have spent the war years inland behind Lowestoft (as did many tall-masted boats) acting as a deterrent to Huns landing gliders there. Her war years are  lost to us, but being well-fettled and fitted she may have been used by officers-on-leave for R+R.

She is mentioned in [Lady Claude Hamilton's] memoirs "A Stone's Throw" as having been purchased by said lady in 1945 at the end of hostilities. Torbay Lass was further developed (including being renamed "Kenya Jacaranda") by, among other things, being copper clad to the waterline. Other changes appropriate for activity in warm tropical waters were made. Lady Hamilton's memoirs do not mention the subsequent fate of the ship, but her owner inherited her mother's substantial estate in Surrey in 1946 and the boat is never again mentioned.

What we know for certain is that, in 1949, still copper clad and still owned by Lady Hamilton, she was wallowing in a muddy creek near Southampton. KJ was rescued from the Hamble and went into service on the Thames, training Sea Cadets out of The Lower Pool, in 1951. KJ is said to have taken some 4000 young people to sea between 1951 and 1979 when she was squeezed out of her London berths by Docklands developments. At the same time the Bermondsey Sea Cadets were finding it almost impossible to maintain her.

The ship was moved 'temporarily' to Tilbury Dock in 1980 retaining mostly the original people, who re-grouped as the "Mayflower Sail Training Society". She carried on more or less as before, enabling youngsters from deprived areas of Greater London to sail a traditional sailing vessel at an affordable price (free to the actual kids in most cases!). Between 1980 and 2006, Kenya Jacaranda 'enabled' some 3000 young people (and an unknown number of adults). She competed in the Brixham Trawler Race at least twice, with MSTS crew and on one famous occasion (2005?) was baulked by weather trying to get out of the Thames estuary and then, some time later, had her propellor fouled off Eastbourne while trying vainly to make up lost time..

She was still berthed in Tilbury over 30 years later, although she had been seen now and then in her old haunts as late as 2005.  In that year, on a night run up-river she was driven onto Purfleet Pier at 5kts and damaged irreparably. In 2014 it was rumoured she had been moved to hard-standing at Maldon but this is not currently verified. (2015/11/24)

The Mayflower Sail Training Society was disbanded in 2007, allegedly for reasons stated on the official website and the boat was still in Tilbury in September 2011 as various interests haggled over what best to do with her. (Shaun Wall 15th Dec 2011)

Nice little earner?

Practice (safe) voyages for 'rookies'

KJ can do 'overnight' trips up-river for training. Learn to sleep on board. Learn to cook on board. Learn to keep watch by night. Learn to read the lights and buoys on the river! Learn about tides! Learn about PLA and Radio Telephony! 60 per person for a supplementary crew of 12 (600 for the boat for a 24hr detail if you want to 'charter' it ) sounds about right. Join at either end. Familiarise with the boat, MOB exercises, safety stuff, how to cast off, make to etc. Use C2C to close the loop with Travelcard provided. Safe all the year round, subject to occasional tide glitches. Nice little earner as every 50 profit made on these 'commercial' runs permitted another young and disadvantaged London youngster to get a day's sail training.

Haulin' the nets with a Brixham Trawler

" When the net was ready for hauling, the ship was set with the wind slightly abaft the beam. The towing wires were released from the securing block. The weight of the trawl brought the ship broadside to wind and  blew her away from the gear. All hands arrived at their posts while the steam-winch wound in the warps. The doors were brought up to the head of the gallows and secured with a massive chain. This allowed the net to be released to pull it on board by hand. "

" All hands lined the rail and pulled in unison with the down-roll of the ship. On the up-roll, everyone laid-on the net, over the bulwark rail. Eventually the cod-end would come into view, depending upon the size of catch. The sooner they saw the cod-end the more fish they had. With all the air inside each fish it, acted like a huge balloon. This is watched for with expectation and delight. With an average size bag the cod -end was brought alongside. "

"A  stout rope becket was passed round the outside of the net. The becket was hooked onto a thick wire leading up to the fore-mast head, the wire wrapped round the winch barrel and lifted clear of the water. For a very large catch, the process of lifting might happen a number of times. "

"As each full cod end was swung on board, over the fish-ponds, the Mate reached under the bag of fish, cascading with cold salt-water, to release the special knot securing the net. The fish poured out, and if another lot had to be picked up the same routine was gone through again, til all the fish were on board. Then the cod-end was re-tied to start the whole fishing cycle again. "

20th Aug 21st 2005

Kj to Eastbourne slipped away on the midnight tide, Friday, having had to wait for Shaun and Ásgeir. Core-Crew: Paul Ladyman, Gerry Goldner, John Young, Mac Saddington, Ásgeir Faben, Shaun Wall. with the Crofton Crusaders, led by Andy Lake and Amy Liddl, joining ship 2100 at the Flying Angel. Victoria Barrington, Katie Dennis, Ruth Gayton, Joy Barron, Sophie White, Lucy Whittaker, Catherine Haslett, Lauren Gilbert, Joe Simpson, Jonathon Styff, supplementary crewmen. Brilliant 19 hour voyage down, snuck into Sovereign Harbour on the last foot of water Sat 1750, boom down into lock, with 200 spectators, moored up at the waterfront 1800. The Crofton crusarders left for further adventues on the IOW. The boat was left in beautiful condition, but we suspect MUCH of the work was actually done by the two leaders Andy and Amy.

21st Aug - 2ndSep 2005

Kj on vacation at Sovereign Marina!  Spectacular life-saving display with RNLI! Editor visited top of top mast. Gareth James descended into the ward-room in his wheelchair via fishing takel and told us how to fit the boat for him to sail. An 87year-old lady told our Chairman that we could make a fortune hauling adrenalin-seekers to the top of the top mast at " 30 to 50 a go ". Everyone else wanted to know why we were not doing sea trips with KJ at " 20 a head ". Marina staff told us they will arrange to have punters ferried out to transfer to KJ at sea. There's a fortune waiting for MSTS at Eastbourne 2006. Every 20 made means another dis-advantaged kid gets a day's sailing on the good ship "Kenya Jacaranda" This year we took 800. next year it may be 4000.

7th to 9th October 2005

AHOY's inaugeral sail with KJ Mike Cloy John Young, Malcolm Mac Saddington, Nick Carter Dan and Marion McGarrigle. Supplementary crew: AnneMarie Whelan,  George Butler, (Sammy) Jusu,  Samina Jusu, Richard Sheridan, Josh Hulks,  Rachel Bermingham,  Jack O'Neill,  Rubin Woodin,  Joslyn Brightwell, Billy Waterworth.

The following report was submitted from AHOY

Dear All, The Youth Team were away for the weekend on the Brixham sailing trawler "Kenya Jacaranda". What an amazing and fabulous experience this was for all. We arrived at Tilbury Docks on the Friday with nine very excited children and were soon acquainted with the Skipper and crew. The children were then given the guided tour of the ship and were told stories about the rats, spiders and FISH GHOSTS!

Everyone got busy organising their luggage, bedding and bunks without looking behind them for fear of finding something untoward.  Once this was completed we headed to the Mission club where all the children were able to use the pool and snooker tables, play table tennis, watch TV and also use the internet. This was all free of charge and the children loved it. The evening here showed early signs of a group coming together and bonding.

6o/c start on  Saturday to catch tides and get through the lock gates. Later the wind started to build an we got ready to SAIL. George and Ann-Marie watched as the team were put to the test of getting  the huge sails up : a task that took almost an hour and a half. Everyone had loads of fun rigging this giant vessel. The wind died on Sunday, but didn't dampen spirits in any way

leaving the ship on Sunday, some were less disappointed than others to have not witnessed any creepy crawlies, vermin or ghouls throughout the whole trip. Some suspect they may not exist. The team spirit that came out during this event has created lasting friendships and relationships. The behaviour was impeccable. It was  wonderful to have the Core Crew of Kenya Jacaranda to look after us.  Below are some statements from the gang.

This was a good experience for it being the first time I've ever spent the night on a boat. I enjoyed myself and learnt more about sailing.
Samina Jusu

I thought this was trip was really good, being here meeting new people was great. I really did have a laugh and enjoyed  learning how a ship works.
Thank you! I had a jolly good time Rachel Bermingham

Ruben: This was the first time I had been on a ship this size. It was a great experience. But a bit cold. Thanks Jacaranda people and AHOY.

Rich Sheridan: I enjoyed this trip because it is a different type of sailing, I enjoyed going into the estuary when we were using radar.

Jocylin:I had a great time on the trip and we had some good laughs. A fantastic trip!!

Jack ONeill: The trip was very good, a fabulous experience. a lot of teamwork. I made lots of friends

Sammy Jusu:  good experience. They were all nice. Watch out for the man with the weird teeth.

Will: It was fun with lots to learn and I made new friends

Billy Waterworth: a great experience; enjoyed sleeping on the boat. lots of new friends. learned how to read charts and helm the ship.