Welcome to the World of Mariners,

Pirates, and the Eternal Sea.

Thirsty Pirates

“I like beer. Do you like beer? All my friends like beer. Gee! I wish I had one now.”

I can’t help but imagine Blackbeard or the crew of Calico Jack Rackham saying those words with gusto. Or Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He said so himself when he testified before the Senate committee recently.

I don’t think he helped his case much. When you’re pretty much fighting for your political life, how smart is it to brag about your excessive drinking habits?

I mean you’re more or less applying for one of the most important positions in government, and you don’t have the judicial smarts to tone it down? It’s more like the man was applying for a seat on the board of Anheuser-Busch who makes lots of beer, good beer. Or maybe he had a mental lapse and thought he was applying for the job of CEO of Brown-Forman, the company that makes Jack Daniels whiskey.

Pirates would surely welcome Kavanaugh into their circle. After all, what bunch of rum-guzzling, beer-swilling alcoholics wouldn’t want a Supreme Court Justice along for the ride? Pirates would probably find him quite helpful when their cases came to trial. “Charged with murder, mayhem, and robbery on the high seas? Not to worry! The judge is one of us.”

Of course, not all pirates swilled rum. In fact, they guzzled anything that had alcohol in it. Beer though did just fine. There’s one pirate, however, that was a teetotaler. That was Bartholomew Roberts. I think he probably tried to curtail his crew’s drinking, but I’m not certain he was all that successful.

Most people are surprised to learn that beer was an important part of a sailor’s diet in the 1700 and 1800’s. But there can be too much of a good thing. Because beer and ale spoiled on long voyages, rum became an important drink. When it became apparent performing one’s duties with a buzz was a risky business, Admiral Edward Vernon ordered that a sailor’s half pint of rum rations be cut with a quart of water. Because he wore a coat made of grogram, his concoction was eventually nicknamed grog.

It’s too bad Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t around a couple hundred years ago to serve in the Royal Navy. I think he would have found a home there though I think he would have enjoyed life more on a pirate ship where drinking and wenching were encouraged.

I like beer. Do you like beer? The trouble with beer or any other alcoholic drink is you’re a drunk if every night you’re having quite a few. Eventually, drinking too much is going to catch up with you whether you’re a pirate or a judge.

Speaking of judge, it’s no surprise that alcohol affects your ability to make clear judgments. That’s why it’s easy to scarf down a bag of potato chips and a plate full of sweets when you’re half in the bag despite your best intentions.

If you’re a pirate loading a cannon or a judge making life-and-death decisions, I have to wonder what faulty judgments could cost someone an eye or a hand or worse. For example, did you know that alcohol has been responsible for the demise of a lot of pirates. Jack Rackham and his crew got so drunk that they couldn’t fight when pirate hunters descended on their ship?

Want to know who defended the ship and the drunken crew who cowered below deck? Two women who people in those days believed were incapable of doing anything except looking pretty. Ann Bonny and Mary Read fought the British Navy side by side till they were so outnumbered that they were forced to surrender.

Would you be surprised if I told you before Jack Rackham was hanged, Ann Bonny reminded Jack of that night. “If ye had fought like a man, ye wouldn’t have to die like a dog.”

Beer? Rum? Or as Jimmy Buffett would say: “Tequila? Of course, I’ll have some.” He may have said it jokingly, but he would agree it’s good to know when to say when.

Ben Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us.” I guess for pirates and politicians who indulge in happy hour that meant “the more I drink, the more God must love me.” I don’t know if Judge Kavanaugh thinks like that. What I do know is he likes beer. He told us so in his own words. Several times.

John Ciardi once said, “All things in moderation. Including moderation.” So I think I’ll have a beer. If Blackbeard were here, I wouldn’t mind sharing one with him. I don’t think I’d want to have one with Brett Kavanaugh any time soon. I don’t like people who pretend they’re being honest when they’re covering up more than they’re revealing.

For example, he stated at the Senate hearing that boofed means farting when in fact it refers to anal sex. He also stated that the Devil’s Triangle was a drinking game. The truth is it refers to two men having sex with a woman. He may have written those words in his high school yearbook a long time ago, but he outright lied about their real meanings just last week before millions of people. What’s disturbing to me is that if he’s willing to lie about that, what else is he willing to lie about?

And I don’t like men who yell at women in a professional setting. Where’s the dignity and respect that’s called for? Or does that go out the window with good judgment when you have that first shot of vodka?

I like pirates. They’re a no-nonsense, genuine bunch. I like beer. But what I especially like are pirates who like beer. I’m not too keen on politicians, especially politicians who drink beer and either can’t or don’t remember to tell the truth afterwards.

Tell me what you think. Do you like beer? Would you like to share one with pirates on a crowded ship? Or would you be more comfortable sharing one with Brett Kavanaugh in a nice quiet setting?

Now that I’ve finished this blog, I think I’ll have a beer. If only I could find that bottle opener my pirate wench hid on me. Maybe it’s next to Jimmy Buffett’s long, lost shaker of salt. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll have my mermaid make me a Margarita instead. That’ll leave an extra beer for Brett Kavanaugh. Aarrgh!!!

                         Bill Hegerich

                         The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/thirsty-pirates/  But go finish your beer first.

Gators in South Carolina: Low Risk but Real Danger

Gators and crocodiles are nothing to be trifled with. Whether in South Carolina or Florida use your common sense when encountering one.

On a website recently, a prospective tourist to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina asked if it was safe to visit because of the alligators. The person who answered did so with a pretty honest and forthright answer. “Come on down. The alligators are not crawling all over the place looking to make a meal out of the next unsuspecting tourist.”

Both visitors and residents of South Carolina should always keep in mind that they sometimes do share the ponds, lagoons, retention ponds, and occasional golf courses with gators. But that’s also true of snakes like copper heads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes. They were here first, and aren’t going anywhere soon.

You probably won’t find one strolling into a Denny’s restaurant on Highway 17 ordering a late-night snack any time soon. You’re not likely to find one stalking you as you try to sink a putt on your favorite golf course, but these creatures are around and require vigilance, awareness, and common sense.

I wrote a blog Summer Warning: Alligators a while back. In it I covered the potential hazards of encountering alligators mostly in Florida and even in the Caribbean while on vacation. But a disturbing incident this past week has led me to revisit the subject because alligators, though a low threat, are a reality not only along the Grand Strand of South Carolina but throughout the Lowcountry here.

Consider this. One evening on August 5, 2016, two women were astounded when they saw an alligator emerging from the surf in Myrtle Beach around 43rd Ave. The dogs they were walking were, no doubt, equally surprised.

At four feet long, the alligator was large enough to do serious harm to humans and pets, but after basking in the sand, the gator decided to go back for another dip. She then disappeared.

Just this past August 8, at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, an alligator literally snapped as onlookers fled in terror. In effect, a bridge connecting the two sides of Barefoot Landing was being held hostage by the alligator. A dog who encountered the gator could not be found for comment. Evidently the gator lost interest in both the bridge and the paparazzi who swarmed around for a selfie.

Last June 8, 2017, Mandy Johnson-Plucinski’s dog alerted her of a guest on her front porch. When she turned on her front porch light, a seven-foot alligator was grinning back at her. With no intention of going anywhere, the gator settled down to enjoy the warm summer evening as dusk turned into dark.

Russell Cavender, the Snake Chaser, arrived on the scene a little later, and a few hours later Mandy’s house was finally liberated. Authorities would not confirm if the gator was booked for trespassing, and once again, the dog could not be reached for comment.

Unfortunately, the next story does not have a happy ending and is a good reason for anyone wishing to protect themselves from alligator attacks, provoked or unprovoked, to read my blog  Summer Warning: Alligators at https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/summer-warning-alligators/.

On August 20, 2018, a 45-year-old woman was attacked by an alligator while walking her dog on Hilton Head Island, just south of Beaufort, South Carolina. The eight-foot alligator dragged the woman into a nearby lagoon where she died. The alligator more than likely was attracted to the dog, but something went terribly wrong during the attack.

There is no way to put a positive spin on this tragic event. Gators are common enough in South Carolina, and anyone active outdoors should understand that. While it’s not likely you’ll meet one, you should be aware of their possible presence and what to do if you encounter one.

Gators may seem exotic, and while it may be exciting to tell your friends at the bar how you met one and fed him your leftover Whopper, you’re only part of the problem. Gators are wild animals, and like bears, when exposed to humans, may attack, And if you’re not the victim when feeding one, you’re only making it that much more likely that the next person who meets it will be.

If you meet a gator, back away. Don’t feed it. Don’t even try to get close to it for a selfie. There’s a whole list of do’s and don’ts at https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2016/06/18/summer-warning-alligators/. Ignore them at your own risk.

And let’s say a little prayer for the woman on Hilton Head Island who died so tragically just last week.

Stay safe out there.

To leave a comment, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/gators-in-south-carolina-low-risk-but-real-danger/

            Bill Hegerich

            The Uncommon Mariner

Life Lessons from Papa Hemingway

Key West recently celebrated Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. Papa, as he was fondly called, is 119 years-old. Key West, as you probably know, was home to Hemingway from 1928 to 1940. Hemingway did some of his best work there. After alienating many of his friends because of an affair, he divorced his wife and married Martha Gelhorn. Strange as it may seem, he imposed a self-exile on himself, leaving Key West and moving to Cuba. There he wrote perhaps one of the best stories ever written. The Old Man and the Sea.

It’s the crowning masterpiece of a large set of literary accomplishments from a hardworking writer. The story isn’t long. But it’s packed with style and character, and it turned the literary world on its ear with its stark, simple writing. It earned him both the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. As a writer, I admire this especially in a world where so much writing is bombastic and self-aggrandizing.

I’ve always admired Hemingway’s writing though his personal life leaves a lot to be desired. Hemingway was no saint. Make no mistake about it. But none of us are. We struggle in the human condition, each of us making our share of mistakes, and all we can hope for is forgiveness and mercy from ourselves, each other, and God.

Hemingway once said the most essential thing a writer must have is a built-in “bullsh** detector.” I know I must drive my wife crazy, but I guess it’s the writer in me, so when I hear something that’s odd or hard to believe, I always ask: “Who said it?”  Or “How do you know this?” And when she tells me who told her, I ask: “How do they know?” At this point, she sometimes grows frustrated, but the writer in me has to ask. Maybe like Donald Trump I’m wary of fake news. Though I think our motives are far different. I want to verify the facts. Our president only wants to acknowledge the ones that fit into his bizarre sense of reality

It’s not that I don’t believe things that I read or are told to me. It’s just that when things don’t make sense, my built-in bullsh** detector goes wild, clicking like a metal detector over a pile of pirate booty buried in the sand off the nearby Garden City Pier.

Another thing I learned from Hemingway is that if you want to accomplish something, you have to park your rear-end in a chair and keep it there till you’ve made some significant headway. He started work somewhere between 8:00 and 9:00 each morning and pretty much stayed with it till way past noon. He would have his maid bring him a sandwich and something to drink and leave it outside the studio door over the carriage house where he worked.

He would then finish up his writing early in the afternoon. Not a bad day’s work for a writer who had to labor in the oppressive heat of Key West without air conditioning. Only then would he stop. He would then spend the next hour or so with his wife, Pauline, where they would often swim nude in the only inground pool for 100 miles around. Under penalty of being fired, his housekeeper was given strict orders not to disturb them or pry.

Hemingway no doubt could have gone on for another hour or two, but he once said that when you drain the well, you have to give it time to fill back up. As a result, he always made it a point to stop short of putting everything down on paper. That way when he came back the next day, he would already be deep in the middle of a scene instead of staring out the window, wondering what he was going to have for lunch that day.

Hemingway had a reputation for being a boozer, a reputation he deserved. But did you know he had a rule to never drink before writing and to never drink while writing? A lot of writers think alcohol makes them wittier, cleverer, or somehow opens the heavens so that the muses throw themselves at their feet. Hemingway was smart. He knew what seemed so ingenious during an alcohol-fueled writing session was just a lot of crap. His own built-in bullsh** detector wouldn’t allow even himself a free pass.

Hemingway rarely missed a day of writing. There were exceptions. The day his new fishing boat, the Pilar, was delivered was one of them. I can only imagine the excitement when he got news it was docked not far from his house. Not much got written that day, or the next or the next, or the day after that, but the creative energy triggered that day more than compensated for the time away from his writing table.

Wherever you are tonight, Papa, I hope you know what a difference you made in literature. I also hope you know that that built-in bullsh** detector is as important today as it was when you lived on Whitehead Street in Key West.

Happy Birthday, Ernest. Enjoy your lunch, savor your swim, and tell St. Peter I said to pour you a couple extra ones. You deserve it!

                                                  Bill Hegerich

                                                 The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/life-lessons-from-papa-hemingway/  When you visit, don’t forget to view the Carriage House where Hemingway wrote.

1 2 3 36