The Saga of Pas de Deux, Chapter 11: Pas de Deux Breaks Free of the Chains that Bind Her! Benn Finally Tastes Liberty on the High Seas! Sarah Continues to Await News of her Legal Status in the United Kingdom!

Yes, our dear little Pas de Deux, after at least 3 years of sad and patient waiting, has finally moved! Only two short days ago, she cast off her mooring lines and, with Benn standing bravely at the helm, she motored happily away from the dock. Joyful at her long-awaited release, Pas de Deux slid proudly past the other boats lining the pontoon into the smooth, glassy, open waters beyond the dock. Then, after about 5 minutes of easy sailing, our little boat spun right around — and returned to almost the exact point at which she had started.

Pas de Deux, moments before setting sail!

Poor Pas de Deux! She was so thrilled at her sudden liberty — and so disheartened to discover that it was only short-lived! Little did she know that when she left the dock, it was only to change her mooring to one on the other side of the pontoon. It will be quite a while yet before she tastes the salt of the open seas.

At least Benn was able to capture it all on video, which you can watch here. It takes all of 30 seconds, but is nevertheless a grand documentation of Pas de Deux’s maiden voyage under Benn’s command. (And, while you’re at it, why don’t you follow us on Instagram or Twitter for LIVE UPDATES on the progress/non-progress of our adventures?)

Swanky wooden boat at Neptune Marina in Ipswich
Swanky wooden boat at Neptune Marina in Ipswich

No, it wasn’t much of a trip, but just the tiniest bit of movement did give Benn (and Pas de Deux) a new sense of hope. Our house does move, after all! The engines work, the rudders pivot easily at a spin of the wheel, and she glides through the water just as gracefully as any noble vessel upon the seven seas!

The next step is repairing the helm so Benn can take her out on a longer adventure. He has a plan for all this, and once he has time, he will execute it, and it will all be documented here, for the whole world to see.

In the meantime, you can watch another short video of Benn’s drone footage of our little marina and our slice of Ipswich harbor. Don’t miss this rare footage of Pas de Deux seen from above!

View from the Butt and Oyster, Pin Mill

Now, Benn has asked me to keep the tone of these updates a bit more upbeat, and I do admit that they’ve been getting pretty glum lately. It’s not so easy to see all of the Instagram and Facebook posts of sailors out taking advantage of the summer while we wait sadly ashore! And, really, when it comes to our eventual reunion, the news isn’t all that good.

After a bit of additional legal research and a mind-blowingly ineffective call to the UK Home Office, we have had to come to terms with the fact that we will be waiting much longer than planned before I can join Benn in Ipswich. In May, my UK visa application was deemed “not straightforward,” which means, among other things, that there is no longer a set timeframe within which the Home Office must process the application. Now, this might just mean that it will take an additional month or two to receive a decision, or maybe 6 months, or maybe, as in the case of one person, TEN YEARS.

There is so much I’d like to say about this situation, but I did make that promise about being upbeat. So I won’t. Well, I will, but I’ll be brief.

Ipswich Harbour

Our original plan was to go to the UK where we both could work and plan to sail for a few years before setting off for more distant lands aboard our trusty little vessel. We were married, we fit the visa requirements, it seemed simple enough. Well, we were wrong on that account (this is where I strongly advise anyone applying for a UK visa to pay an immigration service or a lawyer to do your application) and have found ourselves mired in a bureaucratic sinkhole that it seems next to impossible to pull ourselves out of.

But do we really have to be in the UK to start our sailing adventures? Granted, our boat is there, but it wouldn’t be impossible for Benn to take her across the Channel and meet up with me in Holland or France. As a US citizen, I would then have 3 months to be in the Schengen Zone before I was required to go elsewhere. That would mean 3 months to be in France before sailing off to fun places like Morocco or Cyprus or Albania or Norway or Ireland.

(Of course, this would all require that I actually get my passport back from the UK Home Office, which has retained it for over six months, in what is surely a VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW – but, of course, we won’t get into that now.)

Shrimping Boats, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
Shrimping boats, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Whenever someone asks if they should take the plunge and adopt the liveaboard lifestyle, Benn always tells them to do it. If you wait, he says, you’ll never go through with it. Should we be taking our own advice? Our aim in sailing has always been to find a way to live freely and contentedly on our own terms, but right now, it seems that we’ve run up against a stumbling block before we’ve even begun.

Maybe, however, that’s actually our fault and not that of the Home Office. (Just so you know, that was an extremely difficult sentence to write. I feel like I’m being very charitable towards the Home Office right now.) Is it possible that by insisting we carry out with our original plan, we are preventing ourselves from living the free and flexible and adventurous life we’d dreamed of?

Here’s where we appeal to our readers for advice: What do you think? Should we scrap our entire plan of living in the UK and just do something else?  Surely living for a few years in a country where we can work, save, sail, and easily renovate our boat before setting off to travel the globe is a prudent plan — but is it the best, most exciting, most grab-life-by-the-horns, most carpe diem, most sailorly plan?

What do you think?  Leave a comment, send us a message, post on our Facebook page, anything — just tell us what to do (please). We swear we won’t blame you if (when?) it all goes wrong.

Fuji is ready to set off!

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