Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This past weekend, I spent two days at Moore's Creek Bridge N.B. just outside of Wilmington NC. This is a Revolutionary War site that I have worked with for many years. I took down my sailor kit and demonstrated a bit of Marlinspike knot work for the public as well as talking about the weapons of the age of fighting sail. I joined my friends in the Johnson County Militia as well as my shipmates Chris Grimes from the Ship's Company on Saturday and my pard John Moseley from my hospital for both days.

On many levels, it was a very relaxing weekend. One of the best things about reenactments and reenactors is that to a degree we are (as I posted earlier) like an extended family. Any time we get together it is just like "old home week" as if we just saw someone yesterday when in reality we haven't seen them in months. My well worn knees were giving me fits all weekend but I still managed to stay focused doing what needed to be done. I pitched in on Cannon and musket demonstrations (firing blanks for the public) but mostly talked to visitors while tying knots.

Marlinspike knot work is a term for decorative knot tying which goes back for hundreds of years. It was (and still is to a degree) one of the art forms done by sailors on shipboard. The art of macrame, is descended from this kind of knot work. I don't know why, but hopefully without sounding too egotistical I have found that I have slight talent for knot tying. Members of the public love this kind of stuff. I guess that the average person doesn't have the time or talents required so they look at the act of creation of something useful from a few hanks of rope as totally amazing. These days, rope work seems to have my urge to create under control, so I am a happy camper. (Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have to be doing something with my hands all the time, leather work, horn work, rope work, all have taken their place in keeping my hands occupied)

Before the weekend was done, I had turned out two cat-o-nine tails and three monkey fist (to be turned into sailor's life preservers, or more properly blackjacks) As far as I know, I am the only person who hand ties cat-o-nine tails anywhere around here and there are at least 17 that I have made floating around the world, (including one in England and one in Afghanistan) Folks are drawn to the cat. It is a lot like someone looking at a cobra in a zoo, repelled but also fascinated. Well, maybe..... I did have a very attractive lady approach me at a event to buy a cat, and she wanted to know if I made leather masks also. The scary thing was that I have the skills and knowledge to do so if I wanted to. GRIN

As I said, my shipmate Chris was at Moore's Creek and he did his Siren imitation again. (damn his eyes) GRIN He brought out two toys that I just gotta have, a speed log and sounding lead. So now I need to start figuring out how to copy them. The public loved seeing how they worked. So they would be handy as another tool to "entice" the public to come up and talk to us. Something else to add to the growing collection.

Speaking of collections, I used two weapons in the firing demonstrations this weekend, My sea service musket, (which I am just about to put up on blocks and do some more modifications on) and my blunderbuss. As I expected, the blunderbuss was the hit of the weekend. Everyone wanted to ask about it, look at it and fondle it. It is a handy little weapon, with it's shiny brass barrel it gets people's attention. A little tough to go to "order arms" with since it is so short, but nothing that couldn't be overcome.

Now I need to quit posting and clean those firearms that I dirtied up.

Monday, February 18, 2008

On the Road Again.............

This past weekend I took a quick road trip to Ft. Anderson on the Cape Fear to see the members of the Ship's Company of the Roanoke doing a Civil War event. (This is the group I have hooked up with to start doing Civil War Navy) I was made welcome by the fellows there and it felt pretty comfortable. I was in 21st century clothing which felt a little weird but it gave me a chance to look at the event from another angle. I think I am going to enjoy working with the Roanoke lads and also my new time period.

This coming weekend I will be at Moore's Creek National Battlefield doing a 18th Century Sailor. I hope to be able to knock out some rope work as well as a bit of leather stuff. You know what they say, no rest for the wicked.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'll fathom the bowl......

Let's chat a bit more on strong drink.

As I said, I like rum. Rum seems to have a flexablity that other strong sprits don't seem to have. You can drink rum in a cool punch just as easily as you can in a hot buttered rum or a rum toddy.

Here are a few more favorite recipes.

Rum Punch Done In The Manner of Phil Dunning Esq.

Take 5 to 8 ounces of Dark Rum or Brandy as you wish, put to it 24 ounces of cool water, add to it the juice of 1/2 lemon and two to three tablespoons of the best refined sugar. (If you have connections with the west Indies Musavado or Havana brown sugar works well) If you please, you can grate fresh nutmeg into the punch. This makes about 1 quart of a most delicate, fine, pleasant & most wholesome liquor.

Hot Buttered Rum

This recipe was given to me by one of the members of my hospital unit, Ms. Nancy Randall. Noted babe and all around good egg. Nancy helps keep the hospital running and keeps me from tearing out my hair. (not to mention that she allows me to spoil her daughter, Miss Susan)

For one:
1 cup cider
1 Tbsp maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon butter
1/4 cup rum

For two:
2 cups cider
1/8 cup maple syrup
11/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup rum

For a group:
4 cups cider
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup rum

For a crowd:
8 cups cider
1 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 quart rum

The Stonewall

The drink was a favorite of Ethan Allen as well as LT of my hospital unit.

One bottle of hard Cider ( such as Woodchuck, Hornsby, or any other "hard cider")
11/2 ounces dark rum
Mix and drink.
(Warning, this drink is deceptively smooth, after three you feel like you have run into a stonewall, thus it's name)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Drink to me only with thy eyes.................

I like Rum.

The darker, and older, the better. I have flirted with other things, such as gin, whiskey, beer, ale,and wine, but I have always came back to rum. Now that is not to say that I was a rum expert, I started out drinking Bacardi and Captain Morgan (which I now feel that are equivalent to paint thinner as a refreshment) My recent trips to the Caribbean have allowed me to learn the differences and different taste available. Rum is a lot like cheese, flavors change from island to island, as well as the taste being influenced by it's age and method of manufacture. Right now, my current list of favorites includes:

Mount Gay Sugar Cane Brandy
Mount Gay Very old rum
Gosling's Black Seal rum
Gosling's Old Rum
Cruzan's Black Strap Navy rum

All of these rums can be drank straight without any mixes, (other than ice) I will admit, that most folks don't like to drink it that way, but I do. I do however have a few drink recipes for my friends that need a little something to help ease the rum down. The first is a type of shrub, a colonial fruit based drink. It is VERY sweet which can turn some folks off, so you can play with the recipe just a bit.

In a 1 gallon container mix the following items:
1 quart of dark rum
1 can of frozen orange juice concentrate
1 can of frozen lime-aid concentrate
1 cup of sugar

Mix all items well, dissolving sugar, then fill container the rest of the way up with water. Shake well before serving.

Dark and Stormy
1 oz of dark rum
ginger beer

Place dark rum in glass, fill with ginger beer. (ginger ale works, but ginger beer is MUCH better.) You may have to hunt around a bit to find it, but it is worth it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In the Navy, Yes, you can Sail the Seven Seas...........

Well, it's the new year and it's back to the keyboard.

I guess I can blame it all on Russell Crow.

Back in 2003 the movie Master and Commander, on The Far Side of the World came out.

Now re enactors/living historians have a very strange relationship with movies. It is a love/hate thing of the first order. Most folks in the hobby can quote from at least 60 to 70 historical movies. It is a rare event when you don't hear a bit of dialog from Zulu, or any historical movie made in the last 60 years. If a movie is well done, (at least in OUR opinion) it is watched multiple times and appreciated. If it doesn't, well it is a terrible thing to behold. It is so bad with me, that my good wife will not go to any historical movie with me, because I ruin it for every one around me by pointing out all the inaccuracies. Don't get me started on movies such as The Patriot (with Mel Gibson) Revolution (with Al Pachino) and Last of the Mohicans (with Daniel Day Lewis) All three have the tendency to cause a nerve below my right eye to twitch, as well as cause me to toss things at the television when these movies show up on it. Just to show how seriously we take these things, I interrupted a argument between two of my friends about the historical accuracy of the Disney cartoon "Pocahontas". I had to point out the fact that it had a talking racoon in it which sorta made the other historical errors pale in comparison.

Master and Commander was different. It had the feel, the look and realism that we look for in this type of movie. Now, I have always enjoyed movies about the sea and fighting sail, such as "Damn the Defiant" "Captain Blood" and "Horatio Hornblower" But even with it's small errors M & C was head and shoulders above what had been done before. It got me thinking, I wonder if there is anyone doing age of fighting sail reenactments anywhere close? I found that I was getting a little bored with the traveling medicine show, so I was interested in exploring a new field. I started out with a small group in Florida, but they soon went belly up. A prince of a fellow Jim Pierce who lives up in PA then contacted me about his bunch of fellows, crew members of the HMS Squriell. They took me under their wing and so to speak "showed me the ropes" I couldn't believe how much fun it was to start out something new.

Well, everything was just whipping along like gangbusters and I was happy as a clam but PA is a LONG way to drive to attend a event. So I was talking to Jim, (Da Boss) and he told me about a fellow named Chris he knew who was involved in a group called Ship's Company of the Roanoke who primarily did the Civil War navy but were starting to venture into the age of fighting sail. This group was based here in North Carolina. Well, I hooked up with Chris Grimes and Andrew Duppstadt of the Ship's Company who welcomed me like a long lost relative and started doing the sailor thing at more local events. I have not looked back since.

However, there was a bit of a cloud on the horizon. Chris (Like a siren tempting brave Ulysses) started talking about Civil war reenacting. I had avoided Civil War reenacting like the plague, due to some bad experiences with folks doing that time period and the fact that a lot of people think that war is still going on. I also don't have a lot of fun burning powder like I did when I was much younger. Chris told me that their group wasn't geared to shooting or battle reenacting, but more interpretation with the public, one on one. He also told me that it wasn't that difficult to get your kit together. Well, anyone who knows me, knows that I can resist anything but temptation and new stuff. I have started working on gathering the equipment of a sailor from the 1861-1865 period.

And it is ALL Russell Crow's fault.