Joel Sanders Boatcast – Swans are not Fenders. Guests: Two Fish

Young newlywed boaters, Ed & Carli Fish have been boating for 3 years. We were double moored together in East London and bumped into each other again on the Grand Union this week. In this fun discussion, we talk about  the etiquette of double mooring and what it’s like to be newbies living afloat in our overcrowded metropolis.

You can read more about their experiences at Carli’s superb boating blog.


Joel Sanders Boatcast – Swans are not Fenders. Guest: Dave Tonner


Dave Tonner, the warden at Apsley marina, is Joel’s oldest boating friend. Apsley is where Joel began his life on a narrowboat. Amongst other topics, they discuss marinas vs life on the towpath, Apsley’s connection with the Kray Twins, the Hemel Hempstead court appearance which caused Joel to leave and the day Dave found a dead body.


100 Things I Hate About Boating In London (revised)

(1) Day boaters with a Captain’s hat or eye patch.
(2) Boaters who think the ‘no engines after 8 pm rule’ has a ‘give or take 4 hours’ clause.
(3) Being asked how long I’ve been sailing for.
(4) Drunks by the bins at Little Venice. They should move to Kensal.
(5) No bins at Kensal.
(6) Moored boaters telling me to slow down.
(7) Boaters speeding past when I’m moored up.
(8) Double standards.
(9) Boaters who resemble Harry Enfield characters.
(10) Tourists who take my photo and don’t smile when I take theirs.

(11) Brand new rusty mooring rings.
(12) Dragging a shopping trolley out of the canal to discover there’s no £1 coin in the slot.
(14) Tourists who think my deck is a photo opportunity.
(15) Pump out machines that won’t accept an old travel card.
(16) Tube barriers that won’t accept an old pump out card.
(17) The posh drunk who was outraged when I refused to give him a lift through the Islington tunnel.
(18) People in rowing boats who ask for a tow so they can save energy.
(19) People in rowing boats who won’t tow me so I can save diesel.
(20) The Paddington basin jacuzzi moorings.

(21) Paddle Boarders.
(22) Bikes in the canal.
(23) Bikes on the towpath.
(24) Bikes on boat roofs – especially red with a ‘Santander’ logo.
(25) People walking slowly down the towpath while I’m on my bike.
(26) Retying a loose boat with mooring ropes that are too short.
(27) Dropping my windlass in a lock & trying to retrieve it with a sea magnet, then dropping the magnet in the lock.
(28) Waiting for another boat to exit so I can get into a tunnel.
(29) People chilling out on the lock gates.
(30) Concrete towpaths with no mooring rings.

(31) Boaters who play music on the roof or with their doors open.
(32) Boaters who believe owning a socket makes them a “marine engineer”
(33) The Little Venice ‘Benches for Degenerates’ programme.
(34) Boaters who tie a canoe alongside to stop others mooring against them.
(35) Boats with cratch covers & pram hoods so that – if you do moor against them – you can’t get off your boat.
(36) Troll moorings (under a bridge)
(37) Dropping my centre rope in the water and having it emerge a different colour.
(38) Boats moored overnight on waterpoints & lock landings.
(39) Boats with “broken down – waiting for engineer” signs in their window.
(40) Water points that flow at the correct pace for Chinese Water torture.

(41) Private marinas that add an extra charge for coal to non berth holders.
(42) Those white buoyant, floaty things that explode when you moor against them (swans?).
(43) Taybrite.
(44) Algae on lock ladders.
(45) New boaters with old questions.
(46) Strangers who ask what I paid for my boat.
(47) Overhearing someone outside say, “Do people actually live on these?”
(48) The lock gates at Victoria Park that swing back open after you close them.
(49) Boaters selling home made cakes from their side hatch.
(50) Hackney towpath sales on used underwear.

(51) Wide beams called Narrow Escape.
(52) Any boat named after a rock band.
(53) 7 Day moorings.
(54) The dog walker who overheard me mention fenders and asked how long I’d been playing guitar.
(55) The Noel Rd woman.
(56) Boaters’ whistles.
(57) Stickers in boat windows for boaters’ whistles.
(58) Boaters on canal boats who know the full range of ship horn blast signals.
(59) Boaters who make their own ale.
(60) Boats tied to railings and park benches.

(61) Tunnels not wide enough for 2 way traffic.
(62) The volunteer who saw me coming, closed the lock gates and opened them again 30 seconds later to “save the water.”
(63) Unlit towpaths
(64) No canals in South London, hence no Clapham Wharf.
(65) The “w” in “Bow Locks” not being another “L”.
(66) Having to wait for a lock because a canoe is going through before me.
(67) Paddington basin turning a gust of wind into a force 5 hurricane.
(68) Rowing clubs practising on Sunday at 6 am.
(69) Strangers asking if they can look inside.
(70) People asking if winter gets cold.

(71) Getting up at 7 am to be the first at the water point and someone is already there.
(72) Getting up at 7 am to be the first at the water point and someone is already there…. with drawn curtains and no sign of a hose.
(73) Being unable to move due to being moored inside 2 other boats – then being told I’ve overstayed.
(74) Triple mooring when other boats in that stretch have overstayed – then being asked to move as I’ve triple moored.
(75) Clearing my prop in the Islington Tunnel.
(76) ‘Angle mooring’ my 60 ft boat into a 58 ft space.
(77) Mooring near graffiti.
(78) Boats with 2013 licences in the window.
(79) Pubs by the towpath charging £5+ a pint.
(80) Working the lock for an oncoming couple before I can go through and they don’t lower the paddles.

(81) Winter Moorings taking up precious towpath space.
(82) Canal Time bearing no resemblance to any established system of time keeping.
(83) Someone moving my boat to make room for theirs and securing me with a different knot to what I’m used to.
(84) Shallow pounds on the Hertford Cut.
(85) Mooring rings in Paddington spaced out with gaps that don’t work for any boat of any size.
(86) Plain Clothes Towpath rangers. Super hero costumes should be mandatory.
(87) Anyone who thinks a bow is the male version of a curtsy.
(88) Anyone who thinks ‘Angry Boater’ should be called ‘Stern Boater’…..
(89) …. or ‘Slightly Anode Boater.’
(90) Being told I live on a floating corridor.

(91) Wide beams mooring on my outside & screwing up my Sunday by inviting their friends over for a rooftop mingle.
(92) 400 tourists watching me go through the Locks at Camden.
(93) 0 tourists helping with the lock gates at Camden.
(94) Boats passing by at 3 am.
(95) Manually working an electric lock.
(96) Gentrification causing more sections of the towpath to become both appealing & over-populated.
(97) Dead cat in the lock.
(98) Mooring by a bench.
(99) Slow locks with padlocked, broken gates.
(100) Boaters whose solution to the pump out vs cassette debate is to drink their own urine.

….. and I didn’t mention elsans once.

10 things to avoid saying to a London Boater

10 things to avoid saying to a London Boater.

(1) Alright if I have a look inside?
(2) Slow down!
(3) I’m bringing my new widebeam to King Cross.
(4) Close the lock gates!
(5) How much does one of these cost?
(6) At least put the paddles down!
(7) I’d like to interview you for my university thesis on alternative lifestyles.
(8) OK if I use your toilet?
(9) My mate’s got one of these.
(10) Any idea where Pete is?

Appalling Triple Mooring

Once upon a time, London’s canals were so full that, to create more space, boats had to double moor.

Those were the good old days.

Now, you’ll see boats moored 3 or 4 abreast.

London is busy.

Soon boats will go all the way over to the far bank, plastic boats will park on their roofs and submarines will pile in below.

Everyone wants to be in London.

On one occasion, I saw boats moored 140 abreast. It was Cavalcade.

Recently, triple mooring has been discouraged. One argument is that it’s extremely unsafe. But, if that’s true, what is it that makes double mooring so much safer? Or Cavalcade?

Living on a boat in an overcrowded city is full of perils. Boats sink, bodies end up in the canal and boats get broken into. We get on with it as best we can.

A few weeks ago, I was double moored (on the outside) and another 2 boats moored against me – I was 2nd in a line of 4. I was due to move shortly so arranged with the 2 new boats to move to the outside position.

The following morning,  a note appeared on my front deck asking me to move on account of being triple moored.

But I was not triple moored!

The boat next to me was triple moored.

I was quadruple moored!

Volunteering to move to the outside had been the boating equivalent of an own goal. I thought about asking the others if I could swap back to position 2 but, as I was due to move soon anyway, I cut my stay short and moved further East.

Once again, I found myself tied to the outside of a single boat.

A few days later, I returned to find that my boat had been moved. The boat to the inside of me had gone and I’d been pulled alongside the 2 boats behind.

Whilst I’d been out, I had, involuntarily, been moved onto another triple mooring and a pair of new boats had arrived, filling up the space where I had been.


The next morning, I got another “move your craft” note, the arrival of which induced a severe attack of  tourettes.

I was describing all this to a friend in Cowroast yesterday.

“You should come here,” he said, “We’re all single moored here.”

“Of course, everyone is single moored there,” I said, “There’s a petrol station, a pub and, until 9 pm, one bus an hour to Berkhamsted.”

I put the phone down and went to sleep, dreaming of boats quadruple moored in Cowroast …. on a lock landing that doubles as a water point …. and staying put for 16 days.

Joel Sanders

November 30th, 2015

See the FINAL 2015 performance of  ‘The Angry Boater’ this Wednesday, Dec 2nd at Bar Rumba, 36 Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Circus. 7.30 pm to 9.15 pm. No triple mooring.


Floating Around With Mood Swings


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