A True Boater. 1st July

Rembrandt Gardens to St Pancras Cruising Club

Bye bye Rembrandt Gardens

Our booked seven days at Rembrandt Gardens were up today. After a leisurely start we pushed off at 11am, waving our new neighbours goodbye. The moorings under the trees are not so good for solar, but in warmer weather the shade would be welcome. One thing however that I’m not going to miss is the almost constant smell of weed. It seems as if nobody smokes cigarettes anymore, they just roll joints and find a boat to smoke them by!

Maida Hill Tunnel all of 249m

We rounded the island and turned onto the Regents Canal. NB Muddy Waters a Finesse boat is still moored along the stretch before Maida Hill Tunnel, it looks like their tunnel light is as rusty as ours after four years. The tunnel was clear so no need to wait, popping out the other side where there are permanent moorings.

At the far end work is being done, it looks like new jetties are going in. Mick’s tug being put to work.

The stretch through Regents Park is always interesting. The big expensive houses with immaculate lawns, there will be a good crop of brambles on the other sides of their railings in a few weeks time! The towpath was busier than we’ve seen it before, so was the canal. Paddleboarders, trip boats and narrowboats all managing to be in the same place at once.

The Snowden Aviary at the Zoo is empty of birds, instead scaffolding was being erected and a chap stood on tip toes angle grinding another hole in the mesh. The aviary a Grade 2* listed building is being transformed by the architects Foster + Partners. It will become a walkthrough exhibit with colobus monkeys overhead, red duiker on the forest floor and African grey parrots will fly up to the top of the structure. More information can be found here.

Chocka block

As we rounded the bend by the Chinese floating restaurant we are still amazed that four years ago on Oleanna’s first trip to the capital we managed to get one of the 7 day moorings in Camden. Today it was crammed full, just like every other time we’ve been along this stretch. Good job we weren’t wanting a mooring today.

Just under the railway bridges we could see Christine walking towards us. She’d come to watch us go through Hampstead Road, Hawley and Kentish Town Locks as she only lives a few minutes walk away. Mick slowed Oleanna down and prepared to pick Christine up, however she decided to walk along the towpath.

A few minutes of us pootling along and chatting was brought to a very sudden stop!

How does time know when to slow down? It always manages it on such occasions.

I saw Christine put her right foot down, expecting there to be a solid surface below to meet it. Her foot just clipping the edge of the towpath, then there was nowhere else for it to go but into the canal, very closely followed by the rest of Christine!

Engine out of gear straight away. Oh blimey!!!

We still had momentum going forward getting further away from Christine. Mick shouted to a lady on the bank to help, ‘Please could you just hold her hand’. At least we hoped that would help until we could get off Oleanna to help her out.

The incident already evaporating away

In the meantime other people came running, we didn’t quite see what happened as we tried to get close to the bank without the prop becoming a danger. As soon as we looked again Christine had been helped up onto the towpath and was proceeding to empty her bag of water. Thank you’s all round and the samaritans who’d helped just seemed to vanish.

A sit down on Oleanna to assess any damage and to recover from the shock. Poor Christine, thankfully apart from a wet none functioning mobile she only seemed to have gained a grazed knee, which may have happened when she was pulled out of the water. We offered her a shower, but she decided as she was close to home she’d walk back an have one there. A short rather wet visit.


Up at the lock two canoes were coming up, then we were waved in. I hopped off to help the volunteer and take photos.


With volunteers at the next two locks we were a touch mob handed. The help was welcome, but when one of them commented that I was doing his job, I just carried on doing mine, I at least wait for confirmation from the helm before I start emptying a lock!

Four years ago there were cranes overhead, the general area a big building site. Today the railway arches are being converted into a cinema, a screen for each arch by the sounds of it.

Old and new

I love that these two little blue houses have been allowed to keep an eye on the canal, with a gap between the modern boat like apartments.

Our next stop

Then as we ducked under the railway bridges and the repurposed gasometers came into view we knew we had reached our destination. St Pancras Cruising Club. We slowed and then started to back in towards NB Floradora who was to be our neighbour.

St Pancras Cruising Club

There had already been a discussion onboard as to whether it would be frowned upon to use our bow thruster to assist in mooring, but the amount of weed in the basin prohibited it’s use anyway. Terry from NB Floradora popped out to lend a hand, our centre rope passed over a t stud on the roof, this meant Oleanna could be brought into the gap almost sideways.

The weed made this a slow job, but after a while we were close enough for Mick to be able to catch the bow line and help pull her in to nestle up in the 60ft space below the HS1 line. Terry very kindly gave us a tour round, elsan, bins, garden, toilet etc, during which we met various people who all seemed to know who we were, well Marty did anyway!

Tucked in under the railway

We’d originally booked in for a few more days in Paddington Basin, but had been given the heads up by Heather Bleasdale that one of the longer boats at the cruising club was out at the moment, meaning that we might be able to use their mooring. We got in touch with the Harbour Master and booked our stay here instead, cancelling Paddington Basin as soon as we had confirmation.

Once we’d settled the first thing was to check if Christine was okay. She’d made it home safely, had a shower and was in the mobile phone shop trying to sort a replacement. Thank goodness she was okay.

The basin

Not long after we’d arrived there was a knock on the roof. Heather is down in London for a few days and staying on a boat in the basin. We made plans to meet later in the garden for food and then headed off to explore the area.

The new development around Kings Cross goes on for miles. It is a nice mixture of old warehouses mixed with modern architecture. Retail units, bars, restaurants, Central St Martins art college, plus exhibition spaces and gardens.

The gasometers now have flats built inside them, if you have a spare £825,000 you could buy one too! The old structure surrounds the new and gave a very vocal Blackbird a good perch to sing it’s heart out. Plenty to see and explore, we’ll have to come back to see more.

Once our evening meal was cooked, we loaded a bag with wine, crockery and cutlery and carried our two pans all the way round the basin to the garden. Heather joined us as did others to chat away the evening, a selection of gin and tonics spread across the table. It was dark by the time we decided to call it a day. After three glasses of wine each we made sure we walked carefully back round the basin to Oleanna with our dirty pots.

Gasholders at night

3 locks, 3.25 miles, 1 empty wee tank, 1 wind, 0 birds, 1 true none boating boater, 1 drip dry Christine, 1 reverse, 60ft under the railway lines, 1 visitation, 1 blackbird, 1 Tilly eyeing up the wall! 1 Tilly grounded, 2 spag bols in the garden, 3 glasses of wine, 4 gins, 1 very pleasant evening.


3 thoughts on “A True Boater. 1st July

  1. jennie230

    Hi Pip,

    Your poor friend – what a shock for her, but I am glad to hear that she is okay. I told you a while back that we seemed to remember meeting Heather on Bleasdale – well today I found the blog entry to confirm our meeting. It was actually whilst Tentatrice was being built which is why I failed to find the blog post before. See here for the first time we met her https://pippa13.blogspot.com/2013/06/twenty-fourth-visit-and-day-with.html and here when we met her again the next day and had a cuppa aboard Bleasdale https://pippa13.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-cup-that-cheers.html. When you next see Heather, please send her our regards as we still remember her with fondness even though we only met twice. Jennie x

    1. Pip Post author

      Hopefully we’ll get to see Heather in the next couple of days and I’ll remember you to her.
      Sorry to hear of your knee, along with your decision to sell Tentatrice. I hope our paths will still cross at some point.
      Pip x

      1. jennie230

        We are currently emptying Tentatrice in preparation for her to be handed over to the broker. It is the right decision albeit a hard one. I will still read blogs and if we are anywhere near by you we will pop over to say hello and maybe even work a lock or two! Jennie x

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