The Saga of Pas de Deux, Chapter 21: Land Ho!

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Yes, our sails might be due for a clean one of these days.

Yesterday afternoon at about 1 pm, Pas de Deux slid into her winter berth and our long, lovely summer at anchor came to an end. No, it’s not really over. Winter won’t be here for a while yet, and we have many happy days of sailing ahead before we stow the sails and put on the winter cockpit cover. We do have a busy month planned for September, however, and need easier access to land and those special and rare boatyard conveniences like, say, electricity and fresh water.

So, we now find ourselves in our winter home of Maldon, a pleasant little town on the Rivers Chelmer and Blackwater in north Essex. Essex has a sad reputation for being kind of like the Jersey Shore of the UK: acrylic nails, hair extensions, frosted tips, and secondhand Maseratis parked outside of council houses. Indeed, one might think that this reputation is justified just by observing the too-cool-for-school youths sitting next to me in the courtyard café where I am now writing, with their shiny chains and tufted hairstyles, smoking (!) and talking loudly about Red Bull, drug deals, and the oppression they face at the hands of “adults.” It doesn’t matter – I love Essex, fake tans and all, and I’m happy that we’ve chosen Maldon as our home for the next 6 months.

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Ross Revenge, home of Radio Caroline, a former pirate radio station broadcast from the middle of the Blackwater

Maldon is a large-ish town, with all the benefits of a more urban area, such as supermarkets within walking distance and public transportation to exciting and glamorous places, like Chelmsford. The waterfront where we are moored, however, has a small fishing village feeling, and the quay is lined with old Thames barges and ramshackle, weatherboard boatsheds. Not only was Maldon the site of a famous battle in 991 AD, making it the oldest recorded battlefield in England, but it was also the home of both the very first Tesco store and an overweight 18th century man whose waistcoat was so large that it could fit seven men. That’s some pretty impressive stuff.

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Pyefleet Channel

There is a certain relief at being back on land after four months at anchor. As free and pure as our life on the boat seemed, it was not without its stresses and hardships, and I’m taking a lot of pleasure just in wasting as much fresh water as possible. Who ever knew that washing dishes could feel so indulgent? For her part, Fuji is thrilled to get regular walks, and both Benn and I have found ourselves pleasantly surprised with Maldon’s selection of pubs and local breweries.

More importantly, we will be able to get around to doing all of the little boat maintenance and repairs that we didn’t quite accomplish over the summer. When we left Ipswich, I was certain that we’d have more than enough time to varnish the wood trim, improve the insulation of the hulls, waterproof the bulkheads, and install ventilation in the staterooms before winter. As it turned out, however, those tasks didn’t really seem all that important once we had the prospect of morning swims and afternoon sails to distract us. Now we find that Pas de Deux is in desperate need of winterizing and we only have a limited time in which to do it. As it is, we’re still in the month of August and I’m already wearing a sweater. (Eat your heart out, Louisiana residents!)

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Barge race during Mersea Regatta Week

I had also thought that this summer I would finally devote myself a bit more to the blog and start posting more regularly. Well, that didn’t really happen. It doesn’t matter — it was a lovely summer and I regret nothing. Now, with cooler weather approaching, I may actually have the chance to get on top of the blog, hopefully writing more often and finally getting around to sharing some of our stories from this summer.

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Pyefleet Channel

In the meantime, should any of you feel inclined to help us out, here are our Amazon US and Amazon UK affiliate links. We’ll get a tiny kickback from any purchase you make on Amazon after clicking on this link, and if you were to, say, bookmark this link and follow it every single time you ever bought something on Amazon ever, imagine how grateful we would be.

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Fuji is not impressed with the amount of walks she’s been getting lately.

Alternatively, if you happen to live in the Maldon area and want to give us jobs doing, oh, just about anything legal and lucrative, please don’t hesitate. We have also started a little Etsy store to sell some of my paintings, Benn’s photographs, and different antique and vintage items we have collected over the years. It’s not entirely together yet, but if you get a chance, please check it out — and if you do happen to buy something, use the discount code PIEDBLOG10 to get 10% off! You can also follow our shop on Instagram to get updates about new items we’ve posted.

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Colchester Oyster Fishery, 6×8 inches, oil on wooden panel
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