"Flying Fire" the Indians called them. Modern Georgians are on less intimate terms with them. In fact, when your everyday life is to go from your sealed air-conditioned house to your air-conditioned office to the store and back to the house it's easy to dismiss the sand gnat as a minor nuisance. I don't mean to sound like I'm constantly complaining, but we've found living ashore and close to the soil a heck of a lot more challenging than living aboard ever was.
The bloody sand gnat is actually a midge that lays its eggs in the water. Shrimp feed off the larvae, but those that escape move to ground along the coastal marsh and travel many miles inland. Like mosquitoes they seem to need our blood to boost the reproductive cycle. Working on boats along the marsh, planting a vegetable garden and building a workshop outside means I've given my share of blood this year. Our neighbor says the purpose of the sand gnat is "to feed the shrimp and confound the Yankee. 'course that theory ain't workin' anymore; we got too many Yankees and not enough shrimp." My proposal that we stop eating the shrimp until the sand gnats are under control didn't get anyone's approval.And then mercifully a local drought beginning in the first half of 2006 and lasting through 2007 brought an unexpected and welcome relief from insects of all types.Our vegetable garden wilted and was finally abandoned, but the clouds of gnats, mozzies and biting flies where at a tolerable level.
Since acquiring the house we've spent much more time ashore than sailing. We did manage to get out on the water for some local sailing and in December 2007 completed a delivery trip of a Liberty 49 from Brunswick to St. Thomas Virgin Islands as described in the article Twenty Tacks to St Thomas. Meanwhile, we've been involved in many boat refit and renovation projects as well as getting our workshop finished.
A friend brought his Pearson Alberg 35 up from Ft. Lauderdale to Brunswick for us to assist on a complete overhaul to prep the boat for offshore cruising. So far we've installed a Lavac toilet, replaced the sails, electrics, plumbing, stove, added a monitor windvane, mast steps and a pair of 55 watt solar panels fitted to our custom-designed SolarTracker swivel mounts.
Atom is anchored in a nearby river and awaits her next voyage or at least some TLC, which we keep promising to her and then postponing because of a busy schedule helping other sailors get ready to go cruising.
More photos of the Stone Horse, Alberg 35 and Clombia 8.7 refits and Hinckley Bermuda 40 exterior brightwork are detailed on the Sailboat Projects page.
On this Alberg 35 we converted the roller reefing main to a Mack Pack with slab reefing, Harken Unit 1 roller furling jib, added mast steps, monitor windvane, and SolarTracker solar panel mounts.