Sand Gnat Hell

I woke up like this...

I woke up like this…

Elli above all.

Elli above all.

Mid-afternoon nap

Mid-afternoon nap

Race Week!

Race Week!

We have less than an hours’ worth of work that needs to be done before we can get the mast on Saga Blue back up to head north, but accomplishing it is proving to be next to impossible (and not because Geoff dropped parts in the water). This time of year, south of Savannah is apparently sand gnat hell (their baseball team is aptly named).

Between the swarming gnats, the misery of gnats in mouth and eyes, and the itchiness of gnat bites, nothing has been accomplished on the mast work and last weekend we all decided to decamp for St. Augustine and race week, less sand gnats, and a friend’s 42′ Carib. Geoff and Elli enjoyed watching all the dinghy races while Skye and I cuddled. And we all ate tons of wonderful food (and way too many sweets).

And Geoff finally got me my much-anticipated Christmas present.  We dinghied out to Norma one evening to hang out with the author of Accidental Sailor Girl. Geoff left with another adventure to dream of and I left with some serious boat envy (Norma is a beautiful wooden boat, and much of the interior is reclaimed wood, which in addition to being cool, looks amazing.)

Kourtney, the author we were there to visit, was sweet and welcoming, and cute playing peek-a-boo with Skye. Not to mention had dreadlocks that made me think even I could pull off the style and wish I’d asked her about them.

I was sad to leave gnat-free St. Augustine,  but work calls. We will be back in Savannah soon with a giant box fan to defend against the gnats while we get Saga ready for to sail North.

Baby on Board

“Also, please don’t give the baby to the drunk people.”

2015-03-21 21.56.26I think this is a directive most moms never have to give a baby sitter. And really, it is common sense. But most baby sitters don’t encounter this problem often.

But we live on a sailboat. Which is generally at a marina. Which, on a pretty spring weekend, generally has its fair share of drunk people walking around. Many of whom are older women of grandmotherly age.

We take Skye around a lot at the marina and people love to hold her and play with her. She even attended the St. Patrick’s Day party (for 5 minutes at the much more reasonable time of 8pm).

So imagine this. It’s 10:36pm. We’ve just gotten back from a funeral (where I was expected to keep a generally calm 4-month-old quiet for the service…yea right). Skye has had people in her face all day. She’s a social baby, but babies get tired. And need naps and feedings. Which is much harder to do when you’re the center of attention. So she was cranky and letting us know what was wrong. Very loudly.

Geoff is changing her diaper and I’m working on getting her bed ready so we can put her down when someone knocks on the boat. I ignore it because I’m busy. The knock comes again followed by someone calling my name. Ok fine.

So I open the top slat of the companionway door and poke my head out. On the dock is one of these grandmotherly ladies who has been hanging out at her sailboat for a while and who demands I give her the baby.

Um, no. I’m trying to decide whether I think it’s sweet she offered or to be annoyed when she demands again, insisting that she can calm the baby.

“I’m trying to put her down, we’ve had a long day,” I reply. I’m going to be nice and assume she’s just trying to help, but I’ve had about all the “help” I can manage at this point.

“Help” tends to show up in the form of well-intentioned women who once had children of their own and simply know how to do it (better than me). Some of them are, actually, helpful. Many more are not, but are claiming to be “helpful” as an excuse to get me to hand them the baby. I get it, she’s cute.

But when I’ve put her down for a nap, she needs to be left alone, not picked up. When I say she’s overstimulated (and, by the way, babies make very clear gestures to indicate this before they start crying), sticking a noise-making device in her face, or moving your face around to look at her, doesn’t help matters and moves us closer to a break down and scream. And when she does get upset, odds are good that she requires someone she’s familiar with to calm her, being placed in some stranger’s (to her) arms isn’t going to fix anything.

2015-03-16 18.36.11I don’t mean to rant – I think raising a child is a very communal process and am glad the people at the marina have adopted her and love playing with her and showering her with attention. It’s just there are challenges of raising a child on a boat I hadn’t really anticipated – or rather, the normal challenges of raising a child have their own unique twists, boat-people style.


I’ve spent the last several days trying to process how I feel about the announced closing of my college, Sweet Briar. Like everyone, I was completely blindsided by the news, having made a joke only the day before about whether Skye would grow up to be a Vixen or a Scottie (Agnes Scott is where my mother and grandmother went). Mainly, I feel lost, like a wonderful place just disappeared from the world. There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered, so I’m reserving judgement on the decision, but it has prompted me to remember lots of good stories from my four years in the pink bubble.

A favorite story is the time the campus ghost, Daisy, started haunting freshman computers. I was a freshman and my parents had arranged a job for me working the computer Help Desk in the Bookshop. This was back in 2002, so for some context, ours was one of the first classes where laptops were more common than desktop computers for students. There were no smart phones.

I was hired with no interview other than to list the repair certifications I had, given a master key to the college, and sat at a desk taking phone calls and visiting students rooms. Three days a week I spent a couple hours handling the college’s tech support (my junior year, the Help Desk spun out to a different department and I was only responsible for warranty support for the computers we sold).

My work mainly consisted of “my printer doesn’t work” (reboot computer), “I can’t connect to the internet” (reboot computer), “my computer is frozen and dad says if it’s dead I can buy a new one so can you please just tell me it’s dead” (reboot computer).

A week or two into this, rumors started in the freshman halls that Daisy, the ghost of our founder’s daughter, was haunting freshman computers. The computers would, randomly, start typing gibberish. When the girls would get freaked out and say that Daisy was haunting the computer, it would start typing “Daisy, Daisy.”

While a haunted computer might be scary, it hardly rises to the level of a tech support call because it was a few more weeks before one on my hallway started typing Daisy and I was called down (off the clock) to inspect.

Sadly, the computer wasn’t haunted. But unlike today, where everyone is walking around with Siri in their back pocket, voice dictation was a new (and not terribly functional) feature. All the Dell laptops had been shipped with voice recognition turned on. My friends diligently banished the ghost while I turned off the voice dictation and spread the news across campus on how to remove the ghost from your computer.

There are, of course, an endless number of wonderful experiences and stories of professors and I’ll be headed up to the reunion in May to visit with friends and faculty and enjoy the stunning beauty that is the Sweet Briar campus. I might even drag Geoff along and show him all the trails I hiked for my other campus job – being the TA of the Hiking class.

Sweet Briar was a special educational environment for a lot of reasons – but the professors made it especially so. Bright freshmen were welcomed in upper level classes; professors not in my department were personally interested and invested in my success. They took me seriously when I jokingly said I wanted to be a “l33t hacker ninja” when I grew up. I was allowed to explore academic areas that were of interest to me – from computer science to policy to history to photography (the quintessential value of the liberal arts education).

Just one example – every morning at 9am my senior year (both semesters), I participated in what I referred to in my head as “The Caroline and Professor Chase Show.” This was probably a comedy, though not in the way I thought of it at the time. I grabbed my diet coke (major caffeine addiction by this point) and set out across campus to the tiny Computer Science department where I sat in a classroom as the only student with the head of the department while he tried to pour into my head networking, logic, programming, and many other higher-level concepts on the inner workings of computers. He would lecture, I would attempt to pay attention and take good notes. And then I would be turned loose in the “networking lab” – a closet-sized room with stacks of networking equipment, a Linux computer, and endless possibilities. And then my favorite, the logic puzzles. How would you write a program that handled this problem? While I was an indifferent programmer, I loved algorithms.

But let me back up – a whole year where every day I had the undivided attention of my professor and was able to take the classes in directions that interested me. Mainly because most years the Computer Science department was churning out a good number of diligent programmers, but for some reason, there was only me my senior year.

And maybe this was part of the problem – the college offering too many options to too few students. I didn’t think at the time anything beyond how lucky I was to get so much individual attention from my professors.

So while we don’t yet know what the final outcome will be, I do know that I still have connections to the faculty and a wonderful group of friends that together, helped me become who I am today…

a l33t hacker ninja!