Life in the Fast Lane: Changing Diapers at 9 Knots

Hello Friends and Neighbors,

We are back at the boat. We got here July 17 at about 3:am with a cranky baby. We flew into Baltimore and drove 3 hours to get here. On the plane WE were the people with the screaming baby that I used to be annoyed with. I used to wonder at parents who couldn't comfort their own child. I completely understand now (and I apologize to all those parents)... Nicholas made it quite clear that flying is not his favorite activity. He prefers to travel by land or sea, thank you very much.

We're getting used to a scaled down existence. We've given up our rental car. Our Blackberries (we get our email on these) have spotty connectivity. It's 2 city blocks to the nearest pay phone and our cell phones don't work very well. There is a dial up line in a tiny un-air-conditioned room about 4 city blocks away for us to log on with. I can ride a single speed bike a mile an a half (uphill, both ways, in thousand degree heat...) to a rural country market to get groceries. There's one washer and dryer for about 100 boats. (We have one on board too but there seem to be taboos against laundry detergent getting in the water in this marina.) Getting stuff done on a daily basis fills our days with interesting problems. For example: We are out of milk and clean underpants and Nicholas was awake from 2-5:am. Do I ride my bike to the store during Nicholas' nap or do I get a load of laundry done, or both, or neither, and have a nap myself?

Our marina is a very quite place without much around. There's a pool and a marine store and a cute little Inn really close by (this is a hint for those of you who'd like to visit but don't want to stay on the boat). A little further away but still within walking distance are 3 restaurants. One of the restaurants has lobster on Thursday nights, one pounders for cheap. We go and take Nicholas, sometimes he obliges me and naps during dinner, sometimes we take turns eating and holding, and sometimes a total stranger wants to hold him while I eat. We just roll with whatever happens.

Almost all of the boats here are treated as weekend homes and stay in the marina, there are very few transient boats like us. The boat next to is owned by a nice family who we like (they aren't transients and they actually take their boat out all the time). The man of that bunch (Bill) and Thorsten share fascinations about gadgets, cigars, and OpenBSD. They have 3 teenagers who are about the nicest, most polite kids I've ever seen (it's almost scary). I handed Nichols to one of the girls and she looked distinctly uncomfortable untill she relaxed enough to look down at him. Our little charmer was showing her his cutest biggest gummy grin. She melted and I had to practically pry him loose.

A few days after we got here our air conditioning broke (after the fix it people at the marina had gone home for the day). Thorsten couldn't find and fix the problem by about 9:pm and gave up to wait for the air conditioning expert to come in the morning. It was about 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity that night. There are about a million bugs per square yard here so sleeping outside in bathing suits wouldn't have worked. We thought that we'd just open our portholes and use our screens and our fans. This was when we discovered that our screens have a serious design flaw that allows bugs to get in. In the time it took me to get Nicholas into a clean diaper there were hundreds of mosquitoes in his room. Fending the mosquitoes off his little body was a very noisy and bloody affair for those brave bugs. We won, he didn't get a single bite and we probably both ate a few of them (hah!). We decided, spur of the moment, to go to New York. I threw clothes in a suitcase and we were off the boat in about an hour. Who says spontaneity dies with parenthood? (It was a good time to leave the boat anyway. The next day they removed our windows in the salon to repair a gasket problem, now fixed.)

We were in New York for about a week and loved it. Hotel life (in walking distance to food and entertainment) is quite different from living on the boat in our current marina. We did quite a bit of sightseeing, baby style. We walked in Central Park. We toured the Met. I'm proud to say that Nicholas shook up the Egyptian exhibit quite a bit with angry hungry wails. (There are REALLY good acoustics in that exhibit...) I found a bench and sat down and fed him. It was nice breastfeeding him while contemplating a temple that was built thousands of years ago. Two separate guards came and told me that there were facilities for feeding him in the ladies room so I'm guessing I broke protocol a bit. I thanked them and carried on. Baby Nicholas HATES to be disturbed during a meal. Another day we took a tour of the city in a private car with a driver who knew his way around. He showed us all the main things to see: Times Square, Empire State Building, Ground Zero (sigh), Central Park, 5th Avenue, NYSE, Brooklyn Bridge, etc, etc, etc. On another day we all took the subway to the Staten Island Ferry and checked out the Statue of Liberty. (It was smaller than we expected.) (I'll digress a moment to say that the Subway is NOT stroller friendly. We carried him up stairs so many times that we have the routine down pat now.) We also had dinner with our friend Dave Berk, complete with a cab ride to Little Italy for dessert. All that and some excellent shopping and some wonderful eating and (one of my favorite things) taking our laundry to the wash and fold lady. It was a lovely week.

During our first weekend on the boat we took her out for the day. There wasn't much wind (and our bowsprit is broken (happened during the crossing, one of the eyes welded onto it broke)) so we motored. Wow. (Did I say WOW??) Chesapeake Bay dotted with dozens of pretty boats and lined with very big houses is sure a beautiful place to be. We went out with just Thorsten and Nicholas and I for about 5 hours. Nicholas was awake most of the time and preferred to be below, out of the sun. (Yes, I did change Nicholas' diaper while we were under way and yes we were going about 9 knots.) Thorsten can handle the boat just fine without me, even though I prefer to think I am totally necessary.) When I'm at the helm I have to sit on a big pillow because I'm too short to see around all of the navigation equipment we have. I feel like one of those little old ladies driving a car that's WAY too big when I sit down. It's very pleasant driving along and waving to all the boats we pass. (I bet most of the boating accidents on the bay are caused because people are busy waving instead of driving.)

This past weekend we took the boat to Baltimore. There isn't mch to say about our visit because we didn't do much. We motored past Fort McHenry humming the national anthem. We wandered around Fell's Point and sweated in the sun (it was way too hot). We visited a shopping mall and ate good food. It was a welcome change from rural Georgetown.

Our first time docking alongside resembled our adventures in France. We both thought that docking alongside would be easy after the med mooring. We were completely wrong, we now think that docking anywhere, anyhow, for the first time is hard. There is a piling not connected to the dock that a rope needs to be tied around. I was in the bow trying to lasso a piling. I was very glad to know all the French cuss words I learned because, I used every one of them as I tried and tried to get that dang loop around that pole. Of course we had the usual crowd of helpful onlookers. Note: it's worse when they can be understood. They said helpful things like: "Ooooh, that was close.", "Oops, you missed again.", and "Is that the baby I hear crying?", and (my favorite) "Why didn't you leave the rope tied to the piling on the dock? We could have just handed the rope to you." Bastards. The second time we did it, we did it flawlessly and there were no onlookers. Double Bastards.

A favorite activity of ours in this marina is spider killing. While we were out for a weekend we took the dinghy down and I got in it and circled the boat sweeping off webs, huge spiders, and big egg sacs. Then we opened all the portholes and swept the spiders out of the rims. Some of them fell in the dinghy and I beat them to death with the broom with much shrieking and jumping around. I'm sure that the shrieking and jumping killed them better. A nearby boat wasn't shy about helping the process with peals of laughter. Sheesh.

I'm still cleaning out the starboard bilge pretty often. We can't find the leak. It's frustrating to scoop buckets of water out of there about every 2 weeks or so. At least I fit into the bilge better now that I'm not big and pregnant. I am doing everything I know to try and find where the water is coming in but it's eluded me so far. It's important to figure out because I don't want mosquitoes to breed down there, those little bugs work FAST.

We are one of the biggest boats in the marina and certainly the biggest sailing catamaran. This brings many people to our part of the dock to stand and look at the boat. Their comments are always the same, "Beautiful Boat!" ('Thank You', we say), "How long is she?" ("58'" I say). Then they either launch into a story, ask to come aboard, or stand there looking and grinning. The other night Thorsten was out to a movie and Nicholas and I were at home. We were playing loud music, eating a nutricious dinner of cold pizza for me and warm formula for him, dancing, and singing at the top of our lungs. (Nicholas has quite the singing voice!) At one point during our evening we looked onto the dock into the suprised faces of a nice little family from New Jersey who had come by to check out the boat. We went out to say hello (and to reassure them that there was no baby torture happening) and they were so befuddled that they just walked away, mumbling "Nice Boat"...

Baby news... Nicholas is 2 months old now (doesn't time fly??). We just went to the pediatrician for the 2 month check up and shots (4 of them, poor little guy). He's grown 4 inches and 5 pounds, 1 ounce since being born and is bigger than every baby close to his age we've seen, yipee. (For those of you who want complete stats, this makes him 23" and 13 pounds, 9 ounces.) The Doctor says that he is thriving and we are doing everything right. He's a brilliant baby. He says fascinating things like: "Oooooh" and "Hah" and "Heh" and (our favorite) "Ayouuuuuu". We have entire family conversations repeating what he says and repeating things to him. (For example: I say, "What should we have for dinner?" Thorsten says, "Hmmm..." Nichols says, "Ayouuuuuu" and we both chorus back, "Ayouuuuuu!") He holds his head up pretty well until he gets tired and then he looks like one of those dashboard ornament doggies with the nodding heads. He smiles huge happy gummy smiles to everyone who smiles at him. He's waking up about twice a night demanding food and napping a couple of times during the day. He drools copiously and we've resigned ourselves to just being a little slimy all the time. He has very little hair but what he does have is brown. His eyes are still blue but I think they're changing to brown (Thorsten disagrees). His favorite thing to do is to suck on his fist and stare out the window. We think he's trying to figure out the rigging.

The boat will be in this boatyard (Georgetown, MD) all of August and September getting our warranty work done. We have plans to take trips to Washington DC and CA before October. We are travelling by train to CA arriving 9/7 (at 6:30 in Emmeryville, Dad) and flying back 9/12. We hope to see all our CA friends while we are there. We're still working on our DC dates. Visitors to the boat are welcome and encouraged (while we are here), just let us know when to expect you and we'll leave the light on for you.