Burning of the Socks raises money for Maritime Museum

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lloyd Mackall/Times With rain coming down during the Burning of the Socks, Eric Scheffing finds he needs to hold this partially burned sock over the flames to help the fire consume it. He and his father, Dan Scheffing, are members of the Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown.

Continuous rain showers made it harder for those wanting to purge the pungent aroma of winter from their socks — thus their lives — at the third annual Burning of the Socks at the South Carolina Maritime Museum on Sunday.

The wet socks had to be re-inserted into the flames so The Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown members and other supporters could celebrate the coming of spring.

Special guest at the event was Capt. Tom Turner, a wooden boat builder and sailor who recited a poem in honor of the sock burning.

There were also opportunities to meet with and trade sea stories with fellow seafarers while raising money for the museum.

Turner, who moved from Annapolis, Md., to Pawleys Island a year and a half ago, volunteers with the museum’s S.C. Youth Camp Sailing classes, which start in June.

The Burning of the Socks tradition began in the mid-1980s in Annapolis, where Turner managed a boatyard.

During winter, Turner wore socks while working on other people’s boats. By the end of the winter his socks were stiff with sawdust, bottom paint, caulk, fiberglass resins and other boat yard leavings.

In other words, his socks would stand up when he took them off at night.

One year, on the first day of spring, Turner removed his socks, put them in a paint tray, sprinkled them with lighter fluid and set them on fire. Then he drank a beer to celebrate.

And so the tradition began, and there are now sock burnings in coastal communities across the country.

Sunday night, those freed-up toes were tapping to the bluegrass music of the Blue Plantation Band of Charleston, and feasting on Freddie “Fishdaddy” Travis’ hog, which guests called “amazing.”

Visitors checked out new exhibits and artifacts at the museum on Front Street in Georgetown, including a documentary film about the Henrietta was purchased through a grant, and benches crafted from old cypress.

New donations include paintings of historic vessels, a 200-year-old dugout canoe and the Mary Edna Fraser batik of North Inlet.

Johnny Weaver, president of the Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown board of directors, said the Junior Sailing program and the new advanced sailing instruction offered by the organization have been a huge success.

“This all took off much faster than we figured,” Weaver said.

Turner is helping to build sail boat docks and to instruct students about sailing. He read a localized version, “Ode to the Sock Burners” which was composed by Jefferson Holland of Annapolis in 1995. The ode is read every year when the socks are lit at coastal parties.

Weaver and the Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown are getting ready for this year’s Wooden Boat Show, which will be Oct. 18. Proceeds from the event benefit the museum.

The Goat Island Yacht Club Regatta fundraiser will take place Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the museum.

Registration forms for the June Youth Camp Sailing classes are available at the Maritime Museum or Sail@SC-mm.org.

For more information on the museum go to www.scmaritimemuseum.

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