Renovation Update: Immediate Repairs and Pressing Affairs

This has been a very exciting week for little Pas de Deux.  Benn and Fuji are finally settling into life aboard and have been giving Pas de Deux her very first renovation treatments.

As far as we know, the biggest, most time-consuming renovations that need to be done on Pas de Deux are cosmetic. There are, however, still a few issues that need to be addressed if Benn and I are going survive the cruel winter ahead.  (Fuji was born with a substantial winter coat, so she doesn’t have much to worry about.)

Fuji’s settling into life on her new boat.

The first problems that have arisen have been relatively simple to solve. Benn suspected that we needed new batteries, but he charged the old ones and they seem to be working, so that’s been taken care of for the time being. The galley was lacking a fridge, which meant that Benn was lacking milk for his coffee and cheese for his sandwiches. Thankfully, he has found a very fancy 12V fridge secondhand, and it is reportedly working well and consuming very little power, even though, according to Benn, it is “manky” and “deafeningly loud.”

All the essentials

Despite the surveyor’s warning about the “lethal” state of our electrical and gas systems, Benn has tested both of them and they seem fine. The gas system has a bubble tester and an alarm, which made it a fairly straightforward process. As far as the electricity goes, he’s looked it over, checked it out, and there are no obvious problems. (Actually, there was a  tiny mishap…but we’ll talk about that later.) We have a Merlin multi-gauge, so when the charger is running, we can actually see how many amps are going into the batteries; this makes it easier to track the performance of the electrical system when we’re hooked up to shorepower.


Now that we have established that the boat will not catch on fire or explode, the next order of business is ensuring that she will remain habitable throughout the frigid English winter — which obviously means dealing with the boat’s insulation. As it is September, the autumn chill is starting to set in, and Pas de Deux’s only source of heating is a possibly broken webasto. She is currently insulated with cork tiles, which are neither aesthetcially pleasing nor very good at keeping the boat warm, so they have to go. Luckily, Benn has located an affordable insulation manufacturer not too far away, and he’s already started on the ceiling in the stateroom and the saloon. Eventually, we will cover the insulation with something prettier, but the most important thing is that it all gets up before the winter starts.


It remains to be seen whether or not it will make much of a difference. So far, there don’t seem to have been any drastic improvements — and there’s probably a reason for that. Notice the hatch in the photo to the right? It makes for a marvellously bright and airy stateroom with a delightful view of cloudless skies and starlit nights. It also lets in a draft that turns the room into an ice-cold meat locker. It seems sad to block out the hatches all winter with temporary insulation, so hopefully we’ll find a way of fixing the draft without covering them. My guess is that the solution will depend on the amount of complaining I do once I get there in December.

Benn has also made his first ingenious modification to the boat. He’s installed his computer in the locker that was being used to house an old car radio the boat’s stereo system. He’s also hung the monitor on a swivel over the worktop, so it can be used for computer work at the counter or turned towards the sofa for watching films at night. Pretty smart.

Hello, HAL, do you read me?
An exclusive, inside look at our computer.

Benn builds customac computers, so the initial set-up was pretty easy for him. The problems arose once he turned on the computer…and blew the electrics. After some experimentation and investigation, he decided that this was because the monitor was broken (after all, he had bought it secondhand at the flea market in Berlin three years ago). The next day, he made the 45-minute drive to Bury St. Edmunds to buy a “new” monitor for 10 pounds, and tossed the old one in the trash. He got home, plugged in the new monitor, and… blew the electrics again. Conclusion: faulty plug, totally functioning monitor. He quickly dug the old monitor out of the trash and cleaned it a lot, and now we have two monitors and a sketchy plug that needs fixing. And a really nifty command station with a swiveling screen.

And, in other news: Fuji has a fancy new bed.

Fuji’s first bed was a cushiony, sage-green princess bed with raised sides and silk trim, and she liked it very much. Within 6 months, it was reduced to a grimy, lumpy pancake matted with dog hair — and she liked it even more. When Benn got it into his head to replace it with an inferior bed, she was most unimpressed. He thought she would like the second bed better because it was black and white, like she is. Unfortunately, Fuji, like most dogs, is utterly indifferent to color coordination. She refused to go near the new bed and sulked on the bare floor, glaring at us with resentment and making a show of how uncomfortable she was. I did catch her with her elbow on the bed once, but when she noticed me watching her, she instantly moved it away. Thus, the husky-hair pancake bed returned, and the new black and white bed was demoted to a cushion in the van.

When Benn decided to get a third bed, I was not optimistic that it would pass Fuji’s approval, but she seems to have taken to it — gradually. It remains to be seen how long it will take until this bed resembles the old one, but Benn seems to think that it is far sturdier and less likely to be flattened under the weight of a passed-out husky.  At least the color is better suited for hiding grime, even if it doesn’t quite match Fuji’s natural color scheme.

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Fuji has also discovered a more efficient way of waking Benn up. She jumps on the sofa (strictly forbidden, by the way), and sticks her head through the little window in the bulkhead that opens right over the bed. From this position, she’s free to lick Benn’s face as much as she likes without the inconvenience of actually walking to the stateroom. Let’s see how long this lasts when her evil step-owner gets back to the boat and the no-dogs-on-furniture rule is reinstated. Answer: not long.


On my side of the Atlantic, I’m struggling to pull together my UK spousal visa application without collapsing into a state of total mental disintegration. Am I seriously supposed to list the name and date of entry for EVERY COUNTRY I’ve visited in THE LAST 10 YEARS? Really? I don’t know whom I pity more: myself, for having to decipher two and a quarter passports worth of faded, half-inked stamps, or the poor person who actually has to read through the list and verify it. I think that I feel sorriest for myself.

So, that’s it for this week’s update.  More to come soon as Pied à l’Eau branches into book reviews (Did someone say Horatio Hornblower?)  and possibly even COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS.  Don’t hold your breath, though — it remains to be seen whether or not all this will come to pass.  In the meantime, please follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for exciting, exclusive updates, as well as pictures of Fuji, pictures of Fuji, and more pictures of Fuji.

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