#18 Grand Union Canal – North, East, West then South. September 2015

Sunday 13th September 2015      Black Bart has cruised a five mile section of the Tidal River Thames today, joining the tidal section via Teddington Locks (EA), bypassing Richmond Lock (POLA) and trying to leave the Thames at Brentford. Crossing the main channel at our junction with the River Brent/Grand Union Canal in a (some might say) graceful sideways ‘slide’ whilst fighting the current, finally winning the battle after a few worrying moments, then creeping the short arm to Brentford locks (CRT). We have enjoyed our days & nights on the Wonderful River Thames. The last few days even more so, being warmer & sunnier.  The final 75 minutes of Old Father Thames being a perfect end to our (probably) last river experience of 2015.

We arrive at Thames Locks Brentford at 5.00pm, only waiting a few minutes, rafted up to NB ‘Water Witch’ before being processed. Very busy at the moment. First boats have just passed through both locks & more are waiting behind Bart & neighbour, with more still travelling the last stretches of those wide waters.

A very quick flush & the chamber is full. We leave those deep dark wide waters for the confluence known as ‘River Brent’, for a brief, very slow chug passing house boats. Bart remains centre channel as much as is possible along this very curvy wurvy waterway. River’s high tide was 4.00pm today, so as we approached our junction we could see the water level had already dropped over two foot. Not sure of depth on this short section of the River Brent, which is still dropping, we progress gingerly, hoping not to find the river bed.

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After a short while Bart & current companion reaches Brentford Gauging locks, ascending 5’6″ after only a short wait.

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Now we are on the lookout for a viable mooring position.

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We creep into the last/end ‘position’ under the remains of an old boat loading bay. Quite interesting.

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Monday 14th September      We finished another of our 2015 river experiences yesterday. What a Fantastic experience it was. A culture shock being back on the canals. Sure we’ve been on rivers for longer than canals this year. So far anyway. The final ‘run’ ‘home’ might change that during our remaining few weeks of ‘Bart World 2015’. Anyway. Black Bart has been in a parallel world recently, you may think. This blog is now being updated, finally after two weeks of extreme blog laziness from skip. Bear with. Bear with. Our mileage has dropped considerably compared to past weeks/months. Such a stressful life this boating lark. Needed to back off a little. Te He !!  ‘Today’ we take a trog (of the foot variety) into Brentford. What a Marvellous place Brentford is. Oxford, Abingdon, Henley, Marlow, Windsor, Hampton, Kingston, etc.. etc.. pail into in-significance. Old Lister is finally turned over in preparation to reverse a few hundred feet back to the faucet facility. The gusty winds change Skip’s mind. Bart pirouettes quite well, swimming past all the moored boats, past the wet point, spins again & lands. We leave the watering hole being, heading out of this picturesque place. Bart is quite happy to jaunt along, just locking-up Clitheroe’s water chamber, only covering a slow, short distance.

Tuesday 15th September      A very slow day. Even in Bart terms. Weather remaining grey & cool, as has on many occasions in past weeks. We swish along the old Grand Union Canal very slowly, only rising via Osterley lock & covering similar meagre miles as yesterday. We Park Black Bart just short of Hanwell Lock flight. Very conveniently close to ‘The Fox’. Not sure how hungry Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Fox is today but Bart’s crew certainly are. Hungry that is. The Fox family prove themselves to be purveyors of fine ales & scrumptious foodies.

Wednesday 16th September     Dry start to the day. Bart’s crew is increasingly lazy. By the time Bart rouses crew it is raining. We slip those lines anyway, climbing over 53′ in six wide Hanwell locks. The rain is increasing in it’s wetness & quantity. Sense prevails. We stop after the flight. We could take some time to dry out after that deluge. The remaining two locks can wait. We start to drip dry.

Thursday 17th September      A little dryer today. Not sunny, but we do not care. Crew have almost dried out overnight. We rise a further 14′ before stopping to talk to Mr. Faucet. You would have thought we had enough water yesterday.

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A good cruise of 14 miles is enjoyed, turning at Bulls Bridge Junction to head for London on the Paddington Arm. Quite slow passage at times. A fair few moored boats in groups as we progress East. We are keeping our eyes open (unusual as that might be) looking out for NB Marpessa II. We haven’t seen our friends on said narrowboat for absolutely ages. No sign of them. They don’t know we is in this ‘ere area. We like to surprise them. Oh well !!  Maybe they had a sniff of us & have (sensibly) made their escape before we find them.

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Bart creeps along, swimming the last mile of our current very green slimy journey, passing through Little Venice in North Eastern Italia.

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We turn at the junction with the Regents Canal making for Paddington Basin. As the basin opens out in front of Bart, all positions are taken. Nowhere to moor. Suddenly, Marpessa is eyed. Bart sneaks up to said craft & lines are secured. Friends appear pleasantly surprised to see Bart. Maybe even to see crew too. Gin & cider (unmixed) is enjoyed by two crews of two (plus one pooch each). Pooches not participating in alcohol.

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Friday 18th September      Maintenance procedures are carried out today. A couple of tings need to be sorted. Sorted they are.

Saturday 19th September      Bart is left alone in the Basin today. We crew of two plus one (poochy) are off to Rochester. Tube & train to historical homeland. Meeting rental estate agents, then our tenants for ‘checking out’, who are unfortunately moving on having bought their new home. Tool roll comes in handy for some likkle jobs & Garden trimmed, tidied & looking smart again. Photographs taken ready for new  inventory. Taken ages. Left Bart/Home aboat 8.30am now walking back to Rochester Station for our return train. Oh Dear, Train cancelled. If we’d known could have stopped for a bevy. All trains coming through are now delayed. Finally the next one for us arrives & we are on our way back to Victoria then Paddington. Finally home 8.30pm. Long day. Quite tie-red !!

Sunday 20th September      We is in recovery today. Chilling day.

Monday 21st September      We are popping out of Paddington Basin to refuel Bart’s Water tank in Little (or is that Likkle) Venice. Return journey to Paddington Basin pleasantly reveals vacant mooring. Marpessa won’t have to put up with us now. Two reprobates are waving at us as Bart cruises back in. Not sure who invited these folks. We try to ignore them. Particularly as they appear to be accompanied by a large suitcase. Bart’s attempted Bow-to mooring fails. Noticed our mooring option (always an excuse) a wee bit too late & angles not good. Wind not helping either. Abort. Abort !!  We move out, turn in the winding ‘spot’ at ta end of ta basin, fooling udders into thinking we is leaving again. But, No. We are not. The tactic works. We reverse into our new found (temporary) home slot. Those wavers (Duke & Duchess of Gloucester we believe) reprieve themselves by pulling the centre rope as skip fends off ta rear & skippet fends off neighbouring narrowboat. Interesting arrival successful. It’s always good to make a spectacle of yourself(s) on occasion. Further reprieve is achieved by short walk to adjacent (almost) coffee & cake shop. Delish-ush. The big suit case was causing concern, but it’s OK. Panic over. A devious disguise. upon opening two ‘huge’ toilet blue bottles are hidden inside. Fantastic courier service from Crawley. A BIG Thank-You is extended to all parties concerned with this logistical delivery nightmare. Well Done !! !!  We wave a sad tearful goodbye at the end of the day when our guests leave Bart returning to their own home. Until another time……..

Tuesday 22nd September      We are tidying up our Bart. Just a tittle. More guests. Well one. Our Friend of Little Venice floating accommodation (Fabulous home) is coming for lunch.

And what a splendid lunch it is. Chitty-chatty catchup. Fantastic day. Lunch time is extended today. Additional guest, Brother J also comes over to Bart join in the discussions. Options are discussed to aid guest numero uno in possible transit of new boat Leap of Faith from Laleham to Oxford. Might happen. Not sure yet. Depends on completion & planned ‘sea trials’. Fingers & toes crossed. Another sad goodbye is had much later, although we may well meet again before Black Bart sets sail from the Port of old London Town for our long cruise back to home port. That be way way way ‘op-North’. As one (or even two) of you might k-no-w.

Wednesday 23rd September      Marpessa has escaped again. Bart & crew move quickly (relatively speaking) to ‘nick’ their now vacant mooring position. Diagonally forward of our current position. Better here ‘on’ outer floating pontoon. More jobs on/in Bart today. External Stern roof area, central diamonds are finish painted Bounty Red. Looking Ab-Fab. Internal swim area rear most section of Bart under water needs some tlc. Anti-corrosion works commence today. This be the area where the prop-shaft passes from inside Bart, through the hull into the waterscape outside. Although nowhere near the engine room (this being someway forward in Bart) we is calling it the Bilge. Some water bailing entails, then the area is dried, scraped, loose rusty slithers of metal aggressively removed where required then flushed out, bailed again & dried again. This is not the most easy comfortable place to access & work in. Visitors (when/if invited) are welcome to see for their own eyes. Reaching right to that rear most ‘tip’ of the swim is awkward (that’s the nice word) even with long arms. First coat of anti-corrosion treatment is applied. That all took blooming ages.

Thursday 24th September      Anti-corrosion protection works continue. Body is protesting, but on we go. Rear floor boards (1.5″ thick reclaimed oak) (Lovely, if you haven’t seen it) are lifted to gain access again. Oh Dear !!  The ‘stuff’ has not ‘set’/’activated’. White liquid when applied, turns blue before going clear in non-rusty surfaces & black in the rusty bits. Bits. Ha. More than rusty bits down there. Anyway, It’s still all white & not even going sticky, let alone drying. Skippet has a Fab idea. Hair dryer. The domestic batteries won’t cope with the hair dryer blowing away. Lister is turned over. Hair dryer blows most of the day. Lister runs most of the day. Slowly things are occurring. Patience my young understudy. We will get there. The metal must have been just soo cold & damp down there, sitting in the chilly waters of Paddington basin. The warm & dry conditions help. That is an understatement. Persistence (a trait) (that’s wot they call it) allows a second coat to be applied late afternoon & continued drying method allows the magic stuff to ‘do it’s magic’, I guess.

Friday 25th September      We have to leave. Sorry aboat that. Goodbye.     No Not you lot. Silly Billies.   Black Bart is leaving Paddington Basin heading in a (generally) West direction. Bart needs diesel. Just a few litres to get us through the next moth or so. Will fill up closer to base. We head for Willow Tree Marina as attempts to ‘raise’ any local fuel boats prove fruitless. The Basin waives us goodbye at 8.30am. A general slow chug out of London takes Bart & crew 12 miles in a while over four ‘ers. A sharp turn & gently approach is made entering the marina. unfortunately, the refuelling mooring is past the marina entrance, on the cutting. Bart makes a slow, careful tight 180 deg aboat turn & as we are pulling out of the entrance a member of staff shouts to let us know they cannot serve fuel to us. Great !!  Bart is committed to exiting marina to the left. We get out (Skip annoyed), reposition, reverse & then turn in the entrance to face West again. Skippet is trying to find & contact next possible diesel supplier be it boatyard or marina. None are close. As we are aboat to move on (skip is dawdling on purpose, trying to converse with a marina representative aboat his annoyance). They have a six boat hire fleet & it is turn-around day with new hirers enroute to the marina to start their ‘olidays. Said boats are on the refuelling mooring. Although they do not identify as such on website or the place itself, they do not serve passing boats on Mondays or Fridays, apparently. Suddenly Steve, the Boss appears. He invites us over to the refuelling station. We raft up to a hire boat. Apologies offered & accepted. He seems happy to serve us. Strange, but true. Also good restoring skip’s loss of faith in the boating community spirit. 100-ish litres (only a 3rd of a tank) + new 13kg gas bottle & a ‘free’ water refill are negotiated. One hour later & Nearly £130 diminished, we are shaking hands & slipping Bart’s lines, a relaxed chuggen swim onto Bulls Bridge Junction. We turn right/North & reverse a few boat lengths to a viable looking mooring. Unable to get within a foot of the high bank, but we are good. Mooring pins hammered well into the bank & lines secured. It be aboat 4.00pm. A long day just for some fuel. Was getting worryingly low mind. We can sleep easy for a few nights (and days) now. It must be marked, it is a Beautiful sunny day. Bart’s mooring position & orientation is/are perfect for those solar panels to do their work & keep those batteries charged once Lister is rested for a few ‘ers. Crew make good use of the continued fine weather. Skippet paints first Bounty Red coat on sliding stern hatch And (yes &) first coat of green (Yes, now green) paint is slapped onto those diamond shaped patterns. Skip is back in that staying dry swim/bilge area. Almost getting to ‘like’ it now. Third coat of the magic metal saving splurge (hopefully) sprayed (brushed actually) down there.

Saturday 26th September      Another sunny day. A few clouds, but not sufficient to spoil tings. Moor coats of green. Diamonds, diamonds everywhere. Them there diamonds are Brilliant, sparkling gems of multi-coloured paint. Fantastic. Cannot wait for the final two (Yes two moor) colours to be applied. Patience young student. Patience. Skips favourite place is investigated. Yesterday afternoon’s extra coat has ‘cured’, feels dry & skip is relieved. The previous coats presumably providing some protection from the cold water below, and maybe Paddington’s waters were more icy in their nature. All that sun must be helping too/two. Skips transfers attention to the (forward) Gas locker. No, there is not a rearward gas locker. Said storage facility being located at the fore of the forward well-deck. Starting to get quite close to the front ‘tip’ of Black Bart here you k-no-w. Anyway, locker is cleared except for the current piped gas bottle, metalwork rubbed down, specially in those nasty rusty areas. The tack welded angle running across the forward well, stabilising the locker’s rear bulkhead (slightly impressive, yet over stated word for this particular occasion) is (strangely) suspended approx. 3mm above the well-deck. The sealant in there is obviously loosing it’s touch as whilst cruising on rivers and during locking-up procedures Bart takes in water through the gas vent holes in the sides of the said locker, which then washes into the froward well-deck. Sumwot of a pain in the butt, as sum would likely say. All the sealant is dug out & scraped off. All offending tings removed, the area is washed, wiped clean & dried. The magic glupe pot is opened again and slapped all over. This metalwork does not sit below water level (just) so glupe is curing well here. All black & clear (in the appropriate locations. Now relax…  After all crew (persons) have had a much required proper washy showery thing-amy-jib, all is clean & fresh again. Lister powers up & Bart slips diagonally froward crossing the canal to gain access to the H2O quay. Skippet is of, heading for the big larder shop while skip lubricates that forward well tank. Plastic you know. The tank, that is. No rusty issues with our ‘in-house’ (in-boat really) water (Yes, we are talking water in this case) supply. Skippet returns with laden trolley & we are soon off – returning East, part way along the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal. We cruise along for a couple of ‘ers, making camp at Perivale. Not able to make the bank, but Hey !!  Who cares. We do not. Mooring pins are called upon again. Secured we are.

Sunday 27th September      Sunday. Untoasted eggs & soft boiled soldiers are the breakfast of Sundays. That strange sound floats in waves from the radio, warning of invaders from a far flung place sum call Ambridge. Not always as regular a tradition on our Bart as it should be. As was in the homestead that was Woodfell. Ah !! Woodfell. The only thing I (we) can say is that Bartholomew Roberts is & our life on Bart is Soo Fantastic, it is the only result that could ever justify leaving (selling, of course) such a Fab home for new custodians (buying, of course) to enjoy & look after, for the years to come. As said before (& likely to be said again) Skip (as now known) was only going to be leaving that wonderful home in a six foot plus wooden box. Of course the length of box, style of box, construction material, method of propulsion & of course, facilities inside this ‘box’ have been upgraded. Mad I hear you say. Even Scream. Yeh !!  So Wot !!  You have to be slightly mad to live & even participate (on occasion) (and when invited) in ‘Bart World’. That’s quite enough of that. Back to today. Particularly as we are now almost back up to date with this lovely ‘tittle’ (homage to the most gorgeous girl Ruby, for those that do not know) (Sorry Roxy, but ’tis true) (luckily, you may not fully understand though, so as far as you are concerned Roxy, Yes you are the most Gorgeous Girl) (also) Blog. Skippet progresses into Black diamonds & half diamonds. The pattern you know. Please understand. We have Guest. Lovely Lady of Danson Park is visiting today. Long time friend of Skippet & more recent (20+) years of Skip is bussing, training & tubing her way to Perivale to spend the day with Bart & crew. And a Wonderful Day it were to. Time goes by soo quickly, sumtimes. Goodbye Friend. We hope we see you again (and your fella also), in the not too dim & distant future.

(Skippet here ‘ yes I have to admit, Skip is completely bonkers!) 😉😭😂

Monday 28th September      Our most eminent (& expected) guest of today is unwell & with bad back this morning. Not good. Especially on top of the recent ankle incident. A Restful, relaxing recovering day at home is requested, agreed on & prescribed. Another date will be sorted when all parties are top-hole. Get well soon Queen of Balham. Back to the boring stuff/work then. Corrosion treatments & painting jobs are continued. Gas locker bulkhead zones are (hopefully) leak proofed. sealants are generously applied to required runs/gaps. Forthcoming cruising days/weeks will prove if this is successful or the defences need to be shored up even further. Watch this space. Good bye for now avid reader/blog follower. Mad person.

Tuesday 29th September      Black Bart finally escapes those land ties, heading East to swing round near Alperton. This is a 70′ ‘winding hole’ according to the map. Only just according to Bart. Inches to spare. Bow & stern almost scraping the concrete banks. We moor & skippet is off for a few supplies while skip checks the weed hatch & a few udder tings. Skippet finally returns. We can hear skippet returning as the trolley of goods is traversing the very smooth towpath. The wine & cider stocks have also been replenished. Thank goodness for that. Trolley safely back at base (not in the canal) & we make our move returning west for a couple or so ‘ers making the turn South at Bulls Bridge on the Grand Union Main line. We should be heading North but plans are for changing in this boating world. Bart World too. We are going South, for a short while anyway, before West then finally it will might be North, mayhaps. We moor just down from the junction and await the arrival of lovely friends on Marpessa. Arrival being in the dark, cruising down from Drayton. Great to meet up again before we must leave this place called London Town for the mercy mission volunteered for, by NB Black Bart & crew.

Wednesday 30th September      Crew is up & sorted. All heading south on our new course, heading for Brentford in Essex. In less than an ‘er we is pulling over for water, followed quickly (it’s all relative you k-no-w) by the start of Hanwell locks. Skippet is not in her usual top form. Suffering moments of Dizziness. Luckily for Bart & crew two very helpful lock keepers are on hand. They take control, skippet relaxes on Bart & we make steady progress locking down all eight chambers. Both lock keepers looking after Bart all the way down. Fantabulous. Today hot, sunny, although a bit windy. Better than two weeks ago-ish when we got Very wet whilst arising this lock flight. At the base of the Hanwell Lock flight the Grand Union Canal joins/shares it’s banks with the River Brent. Moorings are busy, but NB ‘Great Britain’ very kindly invites Black Bart to “raft up”. Thank you kind sir. And your kind boat. Decision made to stop for the afternoon (and night of course).

Thursday 1st October      We are nearing the end of our shortened Grand Union Canal experience. We take a leisurely approach to the morning. Cream diamonds are second coated. All Looking really Fabulous now. Late morning & we unraft from our overnight companion, continuing down South, lowering Bart through both Osterley & Clitheroe’s locks. We have new travelling companions. A couple from Germany, enjoying their 9th year of hire boating over ‘ere in the British isles. On arrival in Brentford Bart stops for water & hire NB Laura lands for a town break. Bart continues down through Brentford Gauging locks, ten minutes or so later, mooring on the final approach to the Brentford Thames locks. Skip takes wander round the local & sees the tide is starting to come in. Won’t be long now.

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Bart’s crew are feeling a slight nervousness. It’s that tidal river thing. Not to be taken lightly. Anchor is attached to Bart’s bow eye & buoyancy aids are readied. NB Laura arrives.

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At 3.45pm Black Bart & Laura slip their lines & enter the Brentford Thames Locks all prepared for the tidal flow West up to Teddington. The sky is blue & Mr./Mrs. Sun is out in all his/her glory. Hat an’all. Goodbye Grand Union Canal & River Brent, until another day, yet unknown.


Black Bart has cruised from Brentford to Paddington Basin & back to Brentford with a couple of extra tittle squiggles to add to the fun, swimming just 18 miles (x 2 & a bit) of the London local Grand Union Canal ascending 12 wide locks & then descending those same 12 wide locks again. Black Bart will one day revisit this canal & cruise it’s 137 miles in their entirety.

4 thoughts on “#18 Grand Union Canal – North, East, West then South. September 2015

  1. Of course you are both completely mad but some how it works ….:-)
    It reminds me of wind in the willows…Mr Toad aka skip and Ratty aka skippet ….
    simply nothing quite nothing as nice as messing about in (N) boats…

    Liked by 1 person

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