... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Bongle bongle

I think it is fairly widely known that I hold the view that side fenders are, to put it mildly, much misused and greatly over-used (and I will not put it any less mildly in case you, dear reader, are a fan of them. See how diplomatic I'm getting?).

However, there is one situation in which the deployment of a bongler* can bring some benefit - when you are tying up for more than a few hours against another boat or a piled bank. This has nothing to do with protecting your blacking, let alone your paintwork, and everything to do with reducing irritating banging and grinding noises, especially when it's windy and you're trying to sleep.

So today I have finally got around to fixing up a couple of bonglers to go between Chertsey and Bakewell; go-cart tyres salvaged by Jim, to which I have spliced (yes, spliced. No untidy knots for us!) some bits of string, and Jim is tying them onto Bakewell's handrails as I write.

One of these tyres was very useful at Droitwich for hanging over a bolt protruding from the piling, where a wooden strake had rotted and fallen off; further along, where there were two more, I banged a couple of pins into the bank and hung a plank from them. A bit of scraping on the hull I don't mind, but I do draw the line at a puncture.

*Thanks to Izzie for that wonderfully descriptive word for them.


  1. This is precisely the only reason we use our tyre fenders - to prevent the banging and crunching of hull against concrete when rowers pass.

    And 'bonglers' - what a lovely word for them!

  2. Having strung two between the boats, we now realise it's the bank we're grinding on. More bonglers required!

  3. I see you're using slicks. Shouldn't you be using treaded tyres in all this rain?

  4. Is your view of bonglers widely held, Sarah? I've heard about bow bonglers being caught on lock gates, but where else could they cause problems? And do you shout "BONGLERS!!!" to boaters bongling inappropriately?

  5. It does seem to inspire passion on both sides. I would say that most serious boaters would not be seen dead with side fenders except when tied up, and then the minimum necessary and only between the boat and the hard object. They certainly can cause problems with getting stuck in narrow locks, not just getting in and out but, more dangerously, going up and down. Hoicking them up onto the gunnel or cabin top creates a trip hazard, and all for what, as they serve no purpose whatsoever except in very limited and specific situations. I think that's what frustrates me most; that people are simply too stupid to see the futility of them (oh well, bang goes the diplomacy) There's no point trying to tell people, and anyway, they won't care that I respect them that bit less.

    The most vitriolic set of comments I ever got on this blog was in response to comments I made about side fenders. So to save people the trouble I will just say, yes, it's your boat and you can have a dozen barrage balloons tied round it if you want, but it's my blog, and if I think you're stupid for doing so, then I can say so.

  6. Thanks for the explanation, Sarah. I asked out of genuine ignorance, and just wanted to understand your viewpoint.

    Very useful.

    Rest assured, I will only dongle when necessary (if/when I get a boat). :-)