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Odd Sailing Events: The Burning of the Socks


Post by Becky at Dockwa - Published on 2/25/19 3:01 PM
Another season, another cause for a weird sailing tradition! What started as a one-off lighthearted act of defiance to welcome Spring has since taken on a life of its own, spreading from Eastport, Maryland across the United States. Read on for more about this odd sailing event. 

Note: This post was originally published March 16, 2016 and updated to reflect 2019 events. 

Jump to: 2019 Burning of the Socks Events or The Ode to the Sock Burners

A Brief History of the Burning of the Socks

The annual sock burning began in the Spring of 1978, when, after a snowy winter, boatbuilder Bob Turner bid his oppressive sock-wearing days farewell for the summer by throwing them into a campfire. What was an act of defiance turned into tradition, and this weekend marinas and yacht clubs around the country will celebrate the return of Spring, Sperry topsiders, flip flops, and best of all: boating season. As Turner stated to Baltimore Magazine, he was amazed at what a lasting impression he's had, stating, "It was never meant to be taken seriously. It just says, 'Enough with the socks! Time to go sailing!'"

Fast-forward to 2019, where the sock-burning represents a time to clear out the yacht club cobwebs and embrace spring. On each coast we spotted events with everything from cookouts and bonfires to golf-cart parades, boatyard clean-ups, yard sales, and polar bear plunges. 

To get close to where the Burning of the Socks began, head to the Annapolis Maritime Museum for live music, an oyster roast, and a recitation of the poem "Ode to Equinox," written by the museum's former executive director, Jeff Holland (full poem below). 

  

Sock-Burning Etiquette 

Feet, amirite? Whether you see them as fetish-worthy or foul, in a public arena certain basic guidelines keep things upbeat instead of uncouth. A few quick pro-tips to help you toe (heh) the line: 

  • Prettying Up. Pedicures: They're not just for dames! Some sock-burning events are attended by local press, so pamper your ten little lords or ladies before those high-res photos come back to haunt you in the daily paper. 

  • Defining "Socks." The term can be confusing, so to clear things up: under no circumstances should you attempt to burn stockings, panties, boxers, briefs, spanx, crocs, bras, belts, garters, suspenders, or thermal underwear. Nor should you attempt to cross the Burning of the Socks with a Viking Funeral; leave your ex's belongings or correspondence at home so a bunch of barefoot sailors aren't left bewildered as you cry into the stinky flames. Socks made of synthetic materials are frowned upon, so keep it to cotton or wool and refrain from fleece or other tech materials. 

  • The Ceremony. As you remove your socks, you may be invited to address the crowd, which after several ciders should be no problem. This address should not include deeply personal revelations about yourself or others, your terrible poetry, a garbage rendition of Wonderwall, or any attempt to climb or be thrown into the fire. 

  • Remaining barefoot once you've burned your socks is frowned upon. Either sneak clean socks back on or put your shoes back on sock-less. Do not remove additional clothing.  

2019 Burning of the Socks Events 

We'll keep adding to this as boaters and burning-hosts contact us. Email becky@dockwa.com to add more fire to the flame!

 

March 7, 2019

  • Skidaway Island Boat Club's Burning of the Socks

    • Priest Landing & Delegal Marina at the Landings of Skidaway, Savannah GA.

    • Bring your old worn out cotton socks to be burned that symbolizes the beginning of the boating season.

    • This is a BYOB event with meat + vegetarian chili and cornbread compliments of The Marshes of Skidaway Island. 

 

March 16, 2019

Even sock-burning is bigger in Texas! Thanks to the Lake Texoma Association for sharing their marinas' events. 

Texas

  • Big Mineral Marina

    • Sadler, Texas

    • 9 - 11 AM – Beach Cleanup

    • 11:30 - 1 PM – Burning of the Socks Bonfire with free hot dogs, bbq, chips, tea & lemonade

      • There were be free flip flops given to the first 50 participants!

  • Flowing Wells Marina

    • Pottsboro, Texas

    • Festivities begin at 5 PM 

    • Free food, bring your lawn chairs, beach blankets and your favorite beverages

  • Highport Marina

    • Pottsboro, Texas

    • Event starts at 11 AM 

  • Lighthouse Marina

    • Pottsboro, Texas

    • 1 - 8 PM 

    • The fun starts at 1:00 PM with a Fastrac's Lake History Tour, then onto the Fastrac's Prison Ship Escape Room. The night ends with a Dburning of the socksinner Cruise aboard Island Girl and a Bonfire at the Fireside Venue.  

  • Pelican's Landing Waterfront Restaurant

    • Gordonville, Texas

    • 4 - 6 PM

Reserve a Slip in Texas

Oklahoma

  • Bridgeview Marina 

    • Madill, Oklahoma

    • 8:00 AM - Flea Market opens  

    • 11:00 AM - Burning of the Sock Festivities 

    • 12:00 PM - Fire truck hose & ring the bell, drawings, weenie roast and bonfire.

  • Buncombe Creek Resort Marina

    • Kingston, Oklahoma 

    • Festivities begin at 11 AM 

    • A fun filled family event which will include live music, a chili cook-off, a polar plunge, a dunk tank, a bounce house, a weiner roast, and other carnival games! 

 

March 20, 2019

  • Beaufort, NC's Annual Burning of the Socks

    • 6 - 8 PM @ Front Street Village  burning

    • Celebrate the age old maritime tradition of burning your socks on the spring solstice. Bring a pair of old socks to burn and a new pair to donate. Enjoy oysters, food, brew, and music!

    • RSVP here (tickets $25)


March 21, 2019

  • South Carolina Maritime Museum's 8th Annual Burning of the Socks

    • South Carolina Maritime Museum, 729 Front Street, Georgetown, SC 

    • 5:30 - 8:30 PM

    • $30 for museum members, $35 for non-members

    • In addition to the sock burning festivities, there will be a gumbo cook-off with Georgetown restaurants competing.

    • Learn more & get tickets here

Reserve Dockage in South Carolina 

 

March 23, 2019

  • Walnut Creek Resort Annual Smoke Out

    • Gordonville, TX 

    • 9:00 - 7:00 PM

    • This event is their annual charity cooking competition with all the proceeds going to the local volunteer fire departments.

  • Annapolis Oyster Roast & Sock Burning 

    • Annapolis Maritime Museum, Annapolis, MD

    • Noon - 4 PM

    • There will be live music provided by, The Eastport Oyster Boys, a shucking contest, an exclusive tasting contest in which local restaurants and catering companies will compete, and many other fun activities. 

    • Purchase tickets here. ($25-$85) 

  • Hampton Yacht Club Sock Burning

    • Hampton Yacht Club, Hampton, VA

    • Pub menu available 5 - 10 PM, live entertainment featuring Loose Cannon from 7 - 10 PM 

March 24, 2019

  • Havre de Grace Sock Burning Party

    • Havre de Grace Yacht Club, Havre de Grace, MD 

    • Festivities start at 6:00 PM 

Find Dockage in Maryland

 

May 4, 2019  

  • Harbors View Marina's Burning of the Socks

    • Afton, OK 

 

May 11, 2019

  • York River Yacht Club 

    • Gloucester Point, Virginia

    • 10 - 2:00 PM

    • Kick off the season with the Blessing of the Fleet and Burning of the Socks Ceremony, followed by a cook-out lunch!   

 

June 8, 2019

  • Ashtabula Harbor's 4th Annual Burning of the Socks 

    • Ashtabula, OH

    • Celebrate the beginning of summer at Harbor Yak with festivities starting at 5 PM

    • Don't forget to bring a chair and an old pair of winter socks to say goodbye to! 

Reserve a Slip in Virginia

Ode to the Sock Burners

By Jefferson Holland, Poet Laureate of Eastport, 1995
 

Them Eastport boys got an odd tradition

When the sun swings to its Equinoxical position,

They build a little fire down along the docks,

They doff their shoes and they burn their winter socks.

Yes, they burn their socks at the Equinox;

You might think that’s peculiar, but I think it’s not,

See, they’re the same socks they put on last fall,

And they never took ‘em off to wash ‘em, not at all…

So they burn their socks at the Equinox

In a little ol’ fire burning nice and hot.

Some think incineration is the only solution,

‘Cause washin’ ‘em contributes to the Chesapeake’s pollution.

Through the spring and the summer and into the fall,

They go around not wearin’ any socks at all,

Just stinky bare feet stuck in old deck shoes,

Whether out on the water or sippin’ on a brew.

So if you sail into the Harbor on the 20th of March,

And you smell a smell like Limburger sauteed with laundry starch,

You’ll know you’re downwind of the Eastport docks

Where they’re burning their socks for the Equinox.

  

 

Know of an odd boating tradition we should write about? Email becky@dockwa.com. Happy Spring!

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