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Odd Sailing Events: The Burning of the Socks


Post by Becky at Dockwa - Published on 3/4/18 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 2018 events. 

Jump to: 2018 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 2018, 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.  

2018 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 15, 2018

  • Skidaway Island Boat Club's Burning of the Socks
    • Priest Landing & Delegal Marina at he Landings of Skidaway, Savannah GA. They are doing it as a fundraiser and collecting socks for homeless. A nonprofit retirement community is supplying their award-wining chili and cornbread.

 

March 17, 2018

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

Texas

  • Big Mineral Marina
    • Sadler, Texas
    • 9-11AM – Beach Cleanup
    • 11:30AM -1PM – Burning of the Socks with free hotdogs, chips, tea and lemonade
    • 1PM - 3PM – Lakeside tunes with Tom Branton
  • Cedar Mills Sock Burning
    • Gordonville, Texas
    • 4-6PM
  • Flowing Wells
    • Pottsboro, Texas
    • Free food, bring your lawn chairs, beach blankets and your favorite beverages
  • Highport Marina
    • Pottsboro, Texas
    • 3PM - 5PM
    • Free hotdogs and s’mores, free flip-flops to first 100 attendees, after burn party starts at 5pm with a surprise mystery performer.
  • Lighthouse Marina
    • Pottsboro, Texas
    • 5:30PM
    • The fun starts at 4pm with horseshoes, potato sack races, corn hole contests, and scavenger hunt, then onto the bonfire, sock burning, and live music at 5:30PM.
  • Walnut Creek Annual Smoke Out!
    • Annual Smoke Out!
    • This event is their annual charity cooking competition with all the proceeds going to the local volunteer fire departments.

Oklahoma

  • Bridgeview Marina
    • Madill, Oklahoma
    • 8AM Flea market opens, 11AM Burning of the Socks
    • Free hotdogs and the Tri-City Fire Department will be there!
  • Buncombe Creek Marina (view on Marinas.com)
    • Kingston, Oklahoma
    • Starts at 11AM
    • Chili cook-off, polar plunge, wiener roast, bonfire, cookie sale, dunk tank, car show and more!

Chesapeake Bay

  • Herrington Harbour North Sock Burning Social
    • Tracy's Landing, MD 
    • 5PM. Drinks will be provided and guests are encouraged to bring a dish.  The events are open to slipholders as well as transients.
  • Herrington Harbour South Sock Burning Social 
    • North Beach, MD
    • 5PM. Drinks will be provided and guests are encouraged to bring a dish.  The events are open to slipholders as well as transients.

March 18, 2018

  • Pelican's Landing Waterfront Restaurant
    • Gordonville, Texas
    • 4-6PM
  • Havre de Grace Sock Burning Party
    • Havre de Grace Yacht Club, Havre de Grace, MD 
    • Time TBD 
  • No. 9 Marina Annual Burning of the Socks 
    • Eufaula, OK (view location on Marinas.com
    • Music, food, giveaways, and an all-around good time with friends, family, and fellow slip renters 

March 20, 2018

  • Beaufort, NC's First Annual Burning of the Socks
    • 6-8PM @ Front Street Village  
    • 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)

Burning-of-the-Socks-2018-Poster.jpgMarch 22, 2018

  • South Carolina Maritime Museum's 7th Annual Burning of the Socks
    • 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
    • South Carolina Maritime Museum, 729 Front Street, Georgetown, SC 29440
    • $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: Al Fresco, 700 Modern Bar and Grill, Ball & Que, Big Tuna, Buzz’s Roost, Harborside, Rollin Local and River Room.
    • Learn more & get tickets here. (Tickets $30-$35)

March 23, 2018

  • St. Joseph River Yacht Club's first annual Burning of the Socks 
    • Thank you so Susan Willming Greco for chiming on in our Facebook post!

 

March 24, 2018

  • Annapolis Oyster Roast and Sock Burning 
    • Annapolis Maritime Museum, Annapolis, MD
    • Noon - 4PM
  • Hampton Yacht Club Sock Burning
    • Hampton Yacht Club, Hampton, VA
    • Pub menu available 5PM - 10PM, live entertainment featuring Loose Cannon 7PM - 10PM 

March 31, 2018

  • Corsair Yacht Club 
    • Join the Corsair Yacht Club at Buffalo Park, Two Harbors, Catalina Island for the Burning of the Socks at 4PM on March 31st. Come early and decorate your Easter Hat! (Thank you to Jr Staff Commodore Steve Zimmerman for the intel!)

April 28, 2018

  • Harbors View Marina
    • Grand Lake, Oklahoma

May 4, 2018

  • Hack'ss Point Marina
    • Earleville, MD
    • Click here to contact the marina for more details! 

May 12, 2018

  • York River Yacht Club 
    • Gloucester Point, Virginia
    • 10AM - 1PM
    • The Burning of the Socks will follow the Blessing of the Fleet. RSVP/inquire for more details via their Facebook event
  • Bohemia Vista Marina

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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