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    Captain Donut

    Happy National Donut Day! Growing up, in the home of Captain John Zaruba, donuts were a regular breakfast choice.  I can remember one Easter in particular where we were heading up to grandma’s house and stopped to get donuts.  I popped in my headphones, munching on a strawberry frosted.  When I went back for a second, they were all gone.  “WHERE DID THEY GO?!” I asked my mom in disbelief….”Ask your father”, she told me, as he proudly popped the rest of the deliciousness in his mouth.  The story became well known throughout our family. To my cousins, my father became Uncle Donut, which later spread to friends and morphed…

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    Blessing of the Fleet

    The Tradition "Throughout the years, the Blessing of the Fleet has all the majesty of tradition and the solemnity of a religious ceremony.  Gaily decorated shrimp boats, private yachts and small pleasure crafts participate in the tradition blessing.  This custom began centuries ago to bless and protect the fishing vessels and their crew and to insure their safe return to port.  As the vessels pass by the municipal pier, they are solemnly blessed by the Bishop or pastor of the Cathedral Of St. Augustine with the recitation of the Ancient Prayer of the Sea.  "May the Blessing of Almighty God, The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost descend upon…

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    Once in a Blue Moon

    You may have heard the phrase "Once in a Blue Moon", knowing it stands for something that doesn't occur often, but have you ever wondered what a blue moon actually is?  Like many coined phrases in history, here are several definitions behind the term "blue moon". The first, and what comes to mind when you think of what a blue moon would be, is listed as the very rare occasion where the moon actually carries a blueish hue, due to particular floating particles in the atmosphere.  You may rest your eyes upon this type of blue moon only a few times during the course of your life. The second, the…

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    The Christmas Tree Schooner

    Originally posted on The Boho Traveller. December, turn of the 20th century- Chicago.  A young boy and his family stroll down to the  Clark Street docks with 7 schooners lined up, draped in fairy lights, stocked with Christmas trees.  The boy drags his mother over to the famous Schooner Rouse Simmons, so they can pick their holiday tree from the hands of Captain Santa.  The boy doesn’t know his real name, but Herman Schuenemann was a well seasoned Christmas Tree runner, having commanded 4 ships previously, helps the boy and his mother pick out the perfect Christmas Tree, to be delivered later on.  Herman Schuenemann was known for his generosity and…

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    Three Sheets to the Wind

    Ever encountered any one at a bar, have them point to a friend or stranger and say “that one right there is three sheets to the wind.”? No? Well if you have you may be interested to know this phrase comes from the days of sailing, the oldest print record being from 1813. The varying levels of sailors drunkenness depended on how many sheets they had to their windward side (something you don’t want to do while sailing)- metaphorically speaking. So a sailor who was incoherently stumbling around at the bar was ‘3 sheets in the wind’, someone only just a little tipsy was ‘one sheet in the wind’, or…

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    How to Pick a Pirate out of a Group of Privateers

    So there is this idea in today’s society that pirates are these awesome people who dressed in fancy clothing, while sailing around the world living the ideal life, and doing pretty much whatever they wanted.  While this is true, it’s highly a highly romanticized picture thanks to the overwhelming love of pirates by the media. What is less accepted is that pirates were pretty bad people who were killers, thieves, and generally didn’t live for very long. Some of these “pirates” people talk about so frequently may actually not have been pirates at all, some were privateers working for their country, and you’ve just been hearing one side of the story.  These privateers did everything…

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    Elbows off the Table Please!

    With Easter coming around make sure you are minding your Ps and Qs (a bartending term used when sailors were around), and as your grandmother tells you “keep your elbows off the table!”.  But why exactly are we supposed to keep our elbows off the table?  It’s not exactly like it’s doing any harm, except maybe taking up some of your second cousin’s table room at a crowded family dinner. The reasoning for keeping your elbows off the table goes much further back in time than that.  In the glory days of sailing finding capable seaman to work the decks of a ship could be hard to wrangle up.  Those unscrupulous…

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    Three Square Meals

    Growing up parents often stress to their children the importance of getting three square meals a day, that’s how you grow up to be strong and healthy of course.  My parents not only stressed that, but my dad, being full of nautical nonsense, was determined to tell everyone why exactly they are called square meals. I mean after all, why aren’t they called three round meals, or heptagonal, or triangular (you see where I’m going with this). Eating on board the high seas was no easy task and sailors in the Royal Navy during the great age of sail were no stranger to this, so steps were taken to improve the…

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    The Alligator Class Schooners

    As we come to the end of Black-History month, we honor the victims of slavery. Schooners played a large role in both the trade movement and battling of slavery, as the course of their use for the US government lasted until the industrial revolution was booming. 177 years ago, in February of 1839, slave hunters from Portugal abducted 53 documented Africans from Sierra Leone to be shipped to Havana, then a center for the slave trade.  This transaction was breaking all treaties that had been formed.  On July 1st, after reaching Cuba and being purchased by two Spanish Planters, the group of abducted Africans seized control of the new ship they were on, the…

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    A Sailor’s Valentine

    A day at sea, and a sailor falls in love.  A month at sea, a sailor wants to find love.  A year at sea and a sailor misses his love.  Without the technology of today, sailors of past generations couldn’t send a cute text saying, “I miss you”, and phone calls were certainly out of the question. So then what was the best way to show his lady back at home how he really felt? Valuables couldn’t be kept on board, they could potentially be stolen, or lost. Then came about an idea- a token- to remember times spent away at sea.  A concept believed to have blossomed originally on the island of Barbados,…