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


...GREY GREEN MUDDY WATER chronicles about fifteen months of a seven year 'relationship' between a narrowboat (Pentargon) and a sailor come in from the sea (Pogue), forged on the inland waterways of south-eastern England during the second decade of the 21st century.  The canvas was rolled out in Northamptonshire and onwards to Leicestershire and Warwickshire in the early months of 2012 while the boat was based in a marina near Rugby and was being subjected to considerable but not readily visible modifications which are chronicled in a sister book ..."Pentargon ... Springer". 

In August 2012, Pentargon commenced a slow cruise southwards to Greater London's "100 miles of waterways" which were subsequently explored in considerable detail. The "Lea and Stort Navigations" were cruised to their ends during the early months of 2013. Pentargon then cruised away on a Solo Winter Navigation of the "London Ring" following the Grand Union Canal to Braunston and the Oxford Canal to the Thames from whence it was planned to descend via Reading to London. That the trip was aborted at Isis Lock and the reverse trip made in atrocious conditions is dealt with [elsewhere in ... "Aborted London Ring in Winter". 2014 was again spent in and about London and the Lea and Stort before the London Ring was successfully completed later in the year and Pentargon returned to hard-standing at Stansted Abbotts. These exploits are covered in ... "A Life in the Year of a Continuous Cruiser" 

Greater London featured prominently before it went savage ... Then early in 2015 came a challenge. "Friends of Dartford and Crayford Creek" was set up to resurrect a forgotten river. The Darent flows almost unnoticed through Dartford crossing Watling Street by St. Andrews Church and meandering northwards to the Thames.

In April 2015, Pentargon left the cosy rural and urban waterways; slipped out of Bow Lock and sailed away down the Thames Estuary to discover an abandoned river at Dartford. She made a number of trips to Dartford before mooring up on the Darent til October 2015 when she returned to Stansted Abbots for a lay-over.  The Darent experience was repeated in 2016. Thus was born "GREY GREEN MUDDY WATERS" ...

Leaving Dartford in the late Autumn of 2016, Pentargon was positioned to Hackney bunker a tonne of lumpwood charcoal to ensure the onboard Hampshire Heater could deal with what winter England might send ... Pentargon then crossed London to the Grand Union Canal and turned north. Progressively through 2017 a massive solo circumnavigation of southern England brought the boat into the beautiful counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire across Wiltshire on the rather beautiful [Kennet and] Avon navigation.

The scope of GREY GREEN MUDDY WATER includes maritime and freshwater courses of the Thames and it's estuary, the Grand Union canal, the Oxford to Sutton Stop and the Coventry to the Trent and Mersey at Fradley Junction, the whole length of the beautiful and testing Staff.&Worcs., part of the Severn valley and the sea via Sharpness and Portishead to Bristol where the K&A were joined. 


Is it odd that someone could have a relationship with a boat?

Landlubbers bond with shoes, cars, houses and I-phones so why not a boater bonding with a boat? Over seven years, "Pogue" developed a very personal relationship with Sam Springer's "Pentargon", learning her foibles, eccentricities, strengths and weaknesses. "Human Relationships" depending on friendships and acquaintance mean that scores of people, real and imagined, inhabit a a dampish parallel dimension, flitting in and out of the water, on and off the land and popping up unexpectedly and often unannounced in Grey Green Muddy Water.

"The Cut Is The Longest, Friendliest Village In England"

This comment, picked up early on, is how it is! The cut is more socially diverse than any other form of English society and effectively classless. Everyone 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 the other: today a boater, tomorrow a land-lubber. But one thing is certain anyone who thinks their shite is currant buns gets an awful let down the first time their pump-out toilet throws a wobbly or they have to carry a thetford cassette to an "Elsan" point and dispose of the contents.

Who is my Neighbour
(For purposes of Grey Green Muddy Water we need to define "boater" and compare it with "sailor".) WIP 21-11-2017

A "boater" is someone who lives on a floating device which may be used as permanent temporary or occasional living accommodation but who does not necessarily know it is a boat.


A "boater" is someone who would be a sailor if he knew anything?

A "part time boater" is the owner of a [canal?] boat who does not use it to its optimum. In late 2017, there was a boat lying on the GU near Dodsworth, purchased a few miles upriver, by someone, believed to be from erm London, who having paid for it and taken it a few miles decided he did not really like boating after all , tied it up[entirely inappropriately] and, to all intents and purposes walked away from it, and later tried to foist it BACK on the seller.

There are hundreds of boats around the system with some similar story to tell. "boaters" who, as soon as the weather gets a little bit cold, take themselves ashore and come back at "14day intervals" to move the boat to a different "place". There are boaters who winter their boats and pay big money to the canal authority for the 'privilege' of not having to move for a few months. Finally there are those (and Pogue has been one!) who choose to park up betimes and walk away for as long as they please because they don't give a shit about petty rules and know their way around the law. ...
Pogue incidentally 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, built and sailed boats and took to English canals as a "Canalability" volunteer in 2010. Bought a "Springer" in 2011 to taste the waters and subsequently earned a reputation as one who could test the limits of boat and crew as a lone ranger on any available stretch of water upon which the boat could be cruised. 



How can water be colourless?

hat makes any body of water bigger than a barrel look opaque?  Why are rivers usually muddy or grey ...?  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 generally restricted to GREY, GREEN, MUDDY. Sometimes lakes and rivers might be black.

This book is named "Grey Green Muddy Water".

Over the past seven years, I have sailed on water which has [almost always] been grey, green or muddy. Sometimes, up early I could see right to the bottom by the boat and yet just a few feet away from the boat I could not see beyond the surface. Research kicked up all sorts of useless and fascinating information. It seems that most of the 'colour' of water as a body comes from within the water itself and from stuff suspended in the water  ... the surface of a large body of water absorbs light from the red end of the light spectrum and reflects it from the blue end.  The beholder beholds the result of this nerdy observation in a strange way.

Earth (mud is earth!) acts oppositely to water, reflecting infra red ( the warm end!) and absorbing ultra violet. Thus in strong sun you may get burnt (and I MEAN burnt!) in the country whereas you would get tanned by the sea.  Muddy water looks brown because it reflects and absorbs like the earth. Rivers are major transporters of soil run-off, canals have puddle clay on the floor churned up by the first boat through in the morning and that mud remains suspended all day. Canals fed by muddy rover waters remain muddy H24; you can see this above and below weirs. This little gem may help knowing boaters where best to to harvest water for cleaning and hygiene without having to worry where the next water point is.

Peat dissolved in water absorbs 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 English peatiness in action. 

When the sky is overcast, the warm infra red rays from the sun 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 sea water on clear days but impurities shift the blueness towards green. However that is getting away from narrowboats and canals and locks and weirdos.

And so ... Grey Green Muddy Water launches ...

"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.