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.
Burning of the Socks Events
Social events are still be in flux this early on in 2021, and we're seeing just a handful of BotS events online. This event seems like one that's easy to make socially-distanced as it's outdoors and no one really wants to be within six feet of newly-naked feet or their burning coverings. If your marina or harbor is hosting, let us know and we'll add to the list!
How to Host a Virtual Burning of the Socks Event
Boaters are nothing if not resourceful. You need to burn some socks. There must be a solution. And lo, the internet provides. Here's a step-by-step guide and some tips for hosting your very own virtual sock-burning:
Step 1: Choose Your Burn Format
Sock-burning in person in the good ol' days was a matter of locating a firepit and taking your socks off (and a little more behind-the-scenes magic from marina/harbor event planners). Sock burning live over the world wide web may be a bit more cat-herding than you bargained for depending on the size of the crew – but you have some options!
Virtual Live Event: Pick a date and a livestream app, ship the invites, and get ready for a wild virtually-stinky time!
Virtual Staggered Event: Pick a timeframe, like one full day or one weekend. Post the details in your Facebook Group, and your BotS guests can then burn their socks with their crew-bubble on their own schedule, and have photos and/or video to share with the Group on your BotS day/weekend.
Virtual Staggered Moving Target: Where I went to college, we have a special holiday, the date of which is unknown to the students, faculty, and most of the staff until ~7:30AM the morning of. The powers that be wake up one day in the spring, see that it's a completely gorgeous day outside, and ring the college bells to let the campus know to get out of dodge, go play outside, go climb a mountain (seriously). So if you want to have your virtual guests together in spirit on the same day, but you want to make sure its a nice day, you can set aside a few dates, everyone can prep their fire pits and lighter fluid in advance, and, on the morning of, you or your group can make the call.
Step 2: Pick a burn-date, any burn-date
For a non-work livestream event, the weekend seems the natural choice, and the months of March and April are typical BotS months in years past. If your plan is to have a marina or harbor involved, make sure the dates are clear on their end as well so they can plan for fire training or have an extra staff on hand to check in on you.
Step 3: Pick Your Virtual Platform
Zoom, Facebook Messenger Rooms, and GoogleMeet are the most popular –and the most foolproof– for attempting a feat of tech savviness in front of a crowd.
Zoom: Free to use, up to 100 participants
Facebook Messenger Rooms: Free to use, up to 50 participants
GoogleMeet: Anyone with a Google Account can create a video meeting, invite up to 100 participants, and meet for up to 60 minutes per meeting for free.
Step 4: Set the Stage
Let your guests know to get prepped! I love this write-up from NC3Sailing, a group of boaters based in the northern Chesapeake:
So much helpful guidance to pull from this, and it gives attendees both options of a live and staggered event!
Between now and [Day/Date], grab the lighter fluid and stoke up the fireplace, the firepit, the chiminea or a metal trashcan lid with few sticks in it, then shed your socks and cast them into the flame.
Make sure you film it so that you can share it with the fleet!
On [Day/Date], upload your video to the Facebook group for the rest of the fleet to enjoy.
Or, if you’re using the Facebook mobile app, wait until [Day/Date] and broadcast your sock burning live using your mobile device!
To share a video to the Group using your PC or laptop, open the Group page and click the “Photo/Video” button to the right of “Write Post.” On the next screen, click “Upload Photos/Videos” and browse for your video file and select it. Once the video uploads, you can write a comment, then click “Post” to share it with the fleet.
If you’re not already a member of our Facebook Group you can request to join here. I am looking forward to seeing your creative socially-distanced sock burning videos.
Step 5: Host!
Prep your firepit, select your socks, send an invite reminder ahead of time and get ready to see all the smiling faces of your boating pals returned from hibernation.
Easy-breezy, right? Tag us in your BotS event or email me your deets at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add to the list of virtual events!
Know of an odd boating tradition we should write about? Email email@example.com. Happy Spring!