Instant Pirate — Just Add Rum


Okay, who are we kidding?  He doesn’t need the rum.  He’s always a pirate.

May 1, 2015:

It’s B!  Our buddy, Bottom-Job Brandon (who has rightfully reminded me anytime I mention his name, I should also mention his company — Perdido Sailor, Inc. — or he’s going to have to re-brand).  He’s all decked out here for the annual Pirate’s Ball, the kick-off for the annual Perdido Wooden Boat Festival at Pirate’s Cove in Josephine (more commonly referred to as Orange Beach), Alabama.

Phillip and I had the event on our calendar for weeks — May 2-3, 2015.  Not just because it’s an awesome pirate party, our friends were planning to sail over for it, too, and we really don’t need an excuse to get that boat out.  No, we were really going for the book signing!  The Point Yacht Club, the self-proclaimed “Little Yacht Club That Could” whose clubhouse-in-progress is right next door to the Cove, invited me over for a Salt of a Sailor book reading and signing before the ball.  Pirate costumes, rum and salty book sales?  Who says ‘no’ to that?  

We were also curious to see how the fridge would perform without power for the weekend after the pancreas-splitting Great Stuff repair.  We turned the fridge on on Wednesday evening to let it start cooling down.  While it did take some time (and several cranks up on the fridge setting), we were pleased to see it finally reach 40 degrees Friday morning on the 6 setting and holding.  We headed out that afternoon, planning to meet up with Brandon and his family on their Gulf Star at the Cove.  But, we were surprised to have him cruise right up next to us in the ICW on our way over.  Good timing.


That little 17′ sloop rig he’s towing is s/v Ellavday, a wooden boat he and his father-in-law built for Brandon’s daughter, Ella.  Great name, huh?  That thing is a beauty and so much fun to sail.  If you want to really sharpen your sailing skills, test them in a little boat!


It was great to have Brandon cruising along next to us, too.  I love when we see fellow boat buddies out on the water.  It’s just “boat code” to snap pics of each other under sail.  With s/v 5 O’clock leading the way, we made our way on over to the Cove.


In the weeks before the ball, Phillip and I had been snatching up some pirate attire and accessories and sending pictures to Brandon and his crew with a little light trash-talking as to whose costumes were going to be better.  It must have worked because the Halls took the prize with their complete family pirate ensemble, from parents to little pirate run-a-mucks, even the gangly photo-bomber in the back.

Nice hat Uncle Russ.


I would say the doo-rag on their little pirate bundle (Kaitlin) was the cutest, but I just couldn’t.  This little rapscallion (Ella) stole the show, unsheething her cardboard sword at every opportunity and poking the air with a fierce “AAAaarrrggghhh!”


You know it makes you want to do it, too.  Go on.  Who cares what your co-workers think.  Close your door and unleash your inner pirate — “AAaarrrgghhh!”

The Captain and I came decked out in full costume as well, donning head-to-toe swashbuckler attire:

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Jody Horner with the Yacht Club was instrumental in putting together this whole reading and signing, and I can’t thank her enough.


She literally dragged people over to my table by force, fished twenties out of their pockets and made them buy my book.  It was awesome!


At Jody’s request, I read a fun passage from the book that describes our Second Mate for the momentous journey — the infamous MITCH!  This was the passage she chose:

Now, let me take a moment to tell you a little more about our Second Mate–the infamous Mitch.  Where do I begin?  First, I must say, he’s an incredible friend to give up five days to sail across the open Gulf with us and help get the boat back.  As fun as it is, remember what I told you about sailing, it is indeed hard work, and we were out of touch with the rest of the cellular world for days at a time.  That’s a big commitment, and there is no way we could have done it without him.  But, as I mentioned, Mitch is all of six feet, four inches.  While that may seem pretty normal for a guy–on land–it’s a bit much on a 35-foot sailboat.  Mitch lumbered and bumbled around that boat like an elephant going through a carwash.  Each step of his foot on the deck sounded like Neal Armstrong landing on the moon.  Ka-boom.  I honestly felt sorry for him while I watched him bumble up and down the companionway stairs and through the hatch.  He must have felt like he was crawling around on Playskool equipment.   After a while, he decided to give it up altogether.  Instead, each time I got up to go down the stairs, and I mean the minute I merely lifted my ass off of the cockpit seat, he would start in with “While you’re down there.”  Sometimes I just had to screw with him.  “Down where? I was going up on the deck to check the sails,” I would say as I walked up topside, knowing full well I had had every intention of going down below, but whatever it was for was now going to wait another fifteen minutes until the next time Mitch beckoned.  I have to admit, it was fun, and Phillip and I had a good time christening him with the nickname–Mitch, While-You’re-Down-There, Roberts.  But, to be honest, I’m sure it was a lot of work for him to lug that big body up and down those tiny stairs, and he did hold the helm for several shifts that day, so, the teasing was always followed with, “Sure buddy.  What do you need.”  Mitch was a talker and a screamer but he had a heart of gold.  He taught me a great deal about sailing and he was a true asset on the trip.

The reading really was quite an honor and I enjoyed chatting with readers and fans afterward while Jody hustled them out of their hard-earned bills.

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I also donated a few books and bottles of wine as a giveaway to help the Point Yacht Club raise money to finish their clubhouse-in-progress.  They’re getting close!


After my Sharpie was worn to a nub, it was time for the much-anticipated Pirate’s Ball!  We shuffled our way over to the Cove and stumbled upon this striking figure on the way in:

Lady BlackSquall!!  Yowza!


And, do know that the bottle she’s holding was chalk full of home-made moonshine which she forced you to take a shot of before you could pass through to the party.  Love that gal.  But, the real treat of the evening?  Mr. While-Your-Down-There himself showing up for the party, dressed in full pirate regalia with his trusty sea-wench at side!


Clearly we don’t need the rum to act like pirates …

After we petered out from the pirate party, we crashed hard on the boat.  Having it right there docked up at the Cove always makes for an awesome boating weekend.  That way you have easy access to all your amenities (which for us, was still a cold fridge on the 6 setting), yet easy access to the ongoing party at the Cove.


The next day we toodled around and checked out the exquisite wooden boats on display for the festival.

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I set up a little table as an official “vendor” with my books in tow (Little Author Who Could here) in hopes of selling a few copies at the festival.  Business was slow at first, so I busted out my ukulele and started strumming about in hopes of drawing folks to my sad little tent.  Somehow, I managed to entice this interesting chap.  Meet Gnarly:


He’s gnarly.  He was also an awesome guitarist.  He gave me his pick and taught me how to (in his words) “spank on the strings.”  I had a great time hanging out with Gnarly.  Life is so full of cool people.


With Gnarly’s magic touch on the uke, I was able to snag a few folks in my web and sell some books.

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It was enough, at least, to buy us dinner and a few rum drinks that night.  If sales ever start to cover boat repairs and maintenance, I think we’ll be all set.  In all, it was another wild and raucous weekend at the Cove, with great friends and supporters of my author endeavors.  I can’t thank the kind folks at the Point Yacht Club enough for hosting the book signing for me.  It was fun being a celebrity for an hour.  We had a great sail home, too, with the sun setting on our port and the moon rising at the same time to starboard.

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Strange to think it really is the same sun and moon that set and rose back in the pirate heydays.  Heck, I’ll bet some of the crumbling planks that make up the walls at Pirate’s Cove are from the same era.  The swashbuckling behavior there sure hasn’t changed.  They still drink, holler, spit and dance.  I don’t think it’s the rum that makes the pirate, it’s the spirit.


Thanks as always, to the many patrons who help make these posts just a little more possible through PATREON.


November 28, 2013 – (yes, still): Besh Turkey EVER!

With Kristen foraging our lead, the hunger games commenced. I was loaded up like a pack mule carrying the turkey, wrapped up in a foil tray, a bottle of wine, two glasses and Kristen’s purse, I believe, while she made her way to the dumpsters. Once that nutty, buttery smell hit her, she turned to me, slack-jawed and raised her eyebrows. I gave her a look of I know, right? I was glad she got to really take it in. We both summoned an image of a juicy, brown, buttery turkey,


and the scent motivated us, like predators on the hunt. Kristen rounded the corner so hard she slammed the door against the wall with a bang and sloshed some wine onto the dumpster. I was afraid, we’d blown it with a sloppy entrance, but, the boys weren’t there. The table bore only one lonesome throw-away foil tray, a used vinyl glove turned inside out and a pair of oily tongs. The vat wasn’t bubbling anymore, but it was still warm. We walked around a bit, saying “Hello?” “Hey guys?” and Kristen even belted out a “It suuure smells good out here!” I shirked around behind her to check the level on the propane bottle and the temp on the oil vat, thinking, if need be, I could crank it up and drop the turkey myself. Better to ask forgiveness, right? But there was one door by the table that we had yet to open. I lightly tugged on the handle. It would open, but I could feel some resistance and didn’t believe a hard jerk was in order. Kristen apparently felt otherwise. She came up behind me and belted a “Hey boys!” as she jerked both doors wide open. I scooted back behind one of the doors, tucking both wine glasses behind me like I was stealing from the liquor store.

Kristen stood before the open doors, dumbfounded, as if she were staring at a man on the pot with his pants around his ankles.

man on pot

Excuse me?

She immediately started apologizing, fumbling, stuttering and tucking hair behind her ears. I really thought she’d opened up the door on something slightly obscene. The smaller of the two, Guy Harvey, came out. Eyed us both and asked us “Nice ladies” what we were “in need of?” Kristen struggled and apologized, and just started snickering. I didn’t think the skinny jeans were going to carry the day at that point, so I just blurted out “Turkey.” He looked at me.

“Turkey.” I said it again. I don’t know why. “We would … ” I fumbled. “We were wondering if you would help us … if you’d like to … fry up our turkey.” I let the question linger because I didn’t know what else to do. The wine glasses came from behind my back almost instinctively, slowly as I extended them towards him, a hopeful, pathetic look on my face, and apparently that sealed the deal. “Sure, he said. You ladies bring some more drinks down, and we’ll throw the bird in.” Score one for the skinny jeans. We were getting our turkey fried!

And, here’s the real kicker, Guy Harvey, known locally as Frank Schmancy, turned out to be the head chef at a fairly new restaurant there at The Wharf — The Louisiana Pantry. And, the larger guy (the one who had given up on us during the ‘elevator conversation‘ – again, I can’t blame him), was none other than celebrity chef Tom Wolfe.


Rising Star Chef Tom Wolfe

  • Wolfe’s of New Orleans
    7224 Pontchartrain Boulevard
    New Orleans, LA 70124

Frank told us Tom had studied under Emeril Lagasse and opened up a restaurant in New Orleans — Wolfe’s of New Orleans — before making his way over to The Wharf. He was actually standing there texting John Besh while Frank injected our turkey. John Besh … My total celebrity chef crush. Little did he know. I actually had the privilege of meeting the infamous Besh at a book signing he did in Pensacola for his latest cookbook, Cooking From the Heart, and I, in typical Annie style, acted like a completely smitten, love-sick teenager – a total goober – the entire time.

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Got a first edition ready for Besh himself to sign? CHECK!


Rocking the stiletto boots to be sure to get his attention? CHECK.


Ahhh … Annie Besh … Sure has a nice ring to it.


Why, Mr. Besh … you, you … certainly do look stunning in that button-down.


Phillip? … Phillip who?


Oh THAT Phillip … Okay, I guess he can be in the shot.

In all seriousness, though, we do love the book, and have cooked up some seriously delicious dishes from it. But, Besh?!? This guy – Wolfe – had studied under Lagasse, owned a restaurant in New Orleans, and knew Besh personally? This is the guy who was going to be frying up our turkey behind some dumpsters at The Wharf? Ain’t it funny where life takes you some times.

But, Frank dropped her right in, regaled us with tales of learning the great southern dishes (collard greens, grits, etc.) from an old black cook at his grandmother’s restaurant in Mississippi. The key, he said, is to use as much fat as possible. Go figure. Perhaps he did the same with our turkey, but we all agreed it was the best darn turkey we had ever had the privilege of eating. I mean, the thing had brined overnight in our complex trash bag/cooler set-up all night, then Guy Harvey injected it, and he told us it was the last turkey he could fry that day because the oil was getting “too dark.” But, ‘dark’ apparently did the trick. That turkey was incredible.

Roll that fancy footage!









Absolutely delish! Happy Thanksgiving!!