To GONGOOZLE is to stand by the canal and idly watch the passage of boats, especially standing by locks or on bridges.
In his vade mecum on language World Wide Words, Michael Quinion quotes rumour that it was canal worker's slang, first recorded in late Victorian or Edwardian times. He says it was given wider currency by LTC Rolt in the seminal book Narrow Boat, first published in 1944, and "is said to derive from a couple of words in Lincolnshire dialect: gawn and gooze, both meaning to stare or gape." However, he adds, that is largely speculation. I've also heard it might originally be Cumberland dialect. I guess that means we are all experts on the origin of the term.
I find gongoozlers often very helpful on long flights of locks when I am single-handed, although it takes a certain social knack to rope them in and manage them as a team of ANIMALS or lock monkeys, and I've rarely managed this successfully.
When there are children amongst them, all social rules of behaviour are off, and you are allowed to be as silly and juvenile as you like. The grandparents always like to point out the mini-Rosie&Jims in my windows, and the less comprehending and articulate the child, the more childish become the adults.
There's a mysterious site called Gongoozler which seems to be in the mid-West of America (Iowa?) and is little more than a cooperative of mutual bloggers, who don't say (or betray) much about themselves, except to their own friends. I don't know how they stumbled on the name, or if it had any resonances for them.
The Gongoozler is the magazine of the Canal Card Collectors Circle. They are 'virtual gongoozlers'. Founded in 1978, they simply collect postcards about canals and meet once a year for a swap and a natter, standing around looking at the pictures of boats going by. To me it seems a bit - well, pornographic, in the sense that they grasp their enjoyment by looking at it instead of doing it. But I'm all for that too, if they like it. Whatever floats your boat!