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2018 Billy Bones Grog-Off in Tybee

2018 Billy Bones Grog-Off Tybee Island Georgia

Bon Vivant and recent dance-off loser Billy Bones returned to Tybee Island, Georgia, last weekend to host the 3rd edition of his wildly popular grog competition on the occasion of the 14th Annual Tybee Island Pirate Festival.  This year Billy’s event took place at the Tybee Beach Pier & Pavilion, to the sound of crashing waves and the shriek of deranged nightgulls circling the crowd of drunken pirates. Defying expectations, Billy was in fact not completely drunk this year, which meant that he remembered to broadcast the proceedings live on Facebook!

Billy Bones Reporting LIVE from Tybee

The Billy Bones Gumbo-Off

This year’s festivities began with a brand new event: The Billy Bones Gumbo Off – a gumbo competition that is sure to become very popular as time goes by.  For its inaugural run the Gumbo-Off saw three brave entries which were met by three brave judges:  Fred Steele, Lisa Wilson, and Wade Finch.

The gumbos were brought to the judges in unmarked containers, and the gumbo tasting began!


Gumbo #1

The judges began tasting their gumbo samples.

There was a lot of nodding and grunting.


Gumbo #2

Several judges got faraway looks on their faces.

Wade may have pooted.

Wade and Fred exchanged questioning looks and Wade announced that it was “fishy”, but not in a bad way.

(It is believed that he was referring to the gumbo.)


Gumbo #3

When the judges caught a first whiff of this gumbo they began making excited noises.

As they tasted the gumbo they began smiling and exchanging significant looks.


The Gumbo Winner(s)

The judges conferred and Billy Bones called out to bystanders to gather ’round to hear the winner.

After a brief discussion the judges unanimously agreed that the winner was GUMBO #3, which belonged to Dan Garner, who many are now calling “Lord Gumbo”.

This year’s runners-up were Ray McQuaig and Geoffrey Harrison, both of whose gumbos were soon devoured by the rest of the crew.

Congratulations everyone!

Winners of Billy Bones first ever 2018 Grog Off


The Billy Bones Grog-Off

With the Gumbo-Off complete the ceremonies for the Third Annual Grog-Off in Tybee Island began in earnest, with Billy Bones lurching around the pavilion answering strange questions by random pirates, while Pogue Mahone sang All For Me Grog in the background.

Non-pirates always want to know “What is actually in Grog??”

The winner of this year’s Grog-Off provided a terrific description of grog as…

“…a mix of rum water and citrus juice… [it’s] what the navy would use to refresh the sailors in the age of sail. They would ration out a dram of rum per day. The sailors would then ration that dram to drink throughout the day all while working the rigging etc. Pirate’s Grog is the addition of a sweetener added to the mix. Usually sugar, but honey or another could be added for taste and refreshment. The idea here is to add something new to the mix that brings it out from the rest.”

Scroll down to find out the name of this well-informed winner!!


This year there were four (4) Judges

  • Wade Finch
  • William ‘Foe’ Foley
  • Israel Hands
  • Sheila Nation


There were 8 Official Grog Entries

Since Billy was busy emceeing the event he relied on his Grog Crew to handle the logistics of getting each grog to the judges. Back at the grog prep station each bottle of grog was marked with a Billy Bones themed name tag prior to the commencement of the contest.  The Grog Crew carefully measured samples of each grog into cups and delivered the cups to the judges as requested. 

Some of the grog entries for the 2018 Billy Bones Grog-Off


Grog #1

The judges immediately reacted to this grog’s aroma.

Several judges pronounced this grog as being “very tasty”.

Israel mentioned “Christmas” several times in a row, then began teaching Foe to say it.

2018 Tasting the 1st Grog


Grog #2

The judges looked very thoughtful as they sipped this grog.

All the judges except Israel.

Israel looked puzzled.

Billy Bones asked Israel what he thought and Israel replied that this grog tasted “familiar”.

One of the other judges inquired “Was there grit in this grog?”

Grog #2 – Foe tries to figure this one out


Grog #3

The judges sniffed at this rum for a while.

One indicated that this one had cinnamon notes by blurting out “CINNAMON!”

Foe said it leaned heavily toward orange and pineapple.

Wade said that it was “footy”, Foe suggested that it had “foot notes”, and the conversation turned toward corn chips and feet and regret.

Israel ended by saying it was more of a rum punch.

Grog #3 – Wade and Sheila feel like singing!



Grog #4

“That’s grog!” said Foe

All the judges nodded

Foe noted the trace of blackstrap rum

Israel not as “citrusy”

Wade “we’ve got a contender!”

Billy asked the judges how they felt so far and Israel seemed particularly excited about #4

Grog #4 – This grog tasted awfully familiar...


Grog #5

Foe was noticeably tapping his foot as he began tasting the first entry, he was clearly nervous.

Wade yelped at the sugar content in this grog.

Israel pointed out that this grog was RED.

His eyes flew wide open as he took his first sip.

Foe pointed at Israel’s cup and declared “THAT’S diabeetus grog”

The table erupted in laughter

Foe, Wade, and Sheila handed their unfinished cups back over to the Grog Crew.

Israel toyed with his a bit longer but didn’t finish it.

Grog #5 - "That's diabeetus grog"


Grog #6

This grog was confusing.

Everyone attempted to slide down the bench away from Wade when he attempted a metaphor “It’s like smelling a dog’s ass; you know the smell…” later explaining “It’s not bad.”

Foe replied “I wouldn’t order one, I’ll say that,” before changing his mind and holding up three fingers and saying “I wouldn’t order two, I’ll say that.”

Grog #6 – Reminded Wade of smelling a dog...


Grog #7

The judges eyes lit up as they sipped this grog.

They looked intrigued and Sheila announced “it tastes like baby aspirin!”

All the judges began laughing and repeating “Baby Aspirin Grog!!”

Foe suggested it might prevent them from having heart attacks

Grog #7 smelled like baby aspirin


Grog #8

The final grog arrived at the table.

Foe and Israel took turns bobbing their noses toward their cups and exchanging looks.

The judges talked among themselves as they continued quietly sipping and thinking

Wade said that his might need an umbrella…

They detected a hint of lemon and ginger in the grog, and Foe called it “tangy”.

There was so much flavor that several of the judges wondered if there was even any alcohol in it, but Israel quickly assured everyone that he could tell there was plenty of alcohol in there.

They all agreed that this grog was in the top two.

Grog #8 - Smells of citrus!


Grog-Off Semi-Finals

The judges asked to have additional samples of #4 and #8 to make their final decision

The Grog Crew brought over two small bottles, #4 was clear with an amber liquid inside, #8 was made of blue glass.

The judges all agreed that they had a winner!

Re-tasting Grog #8 - "That's refreshing!"


The Grog-Off Winner

Billy Bones called out to the waiting crowd and announced that the winner was:


Winners and Entrants to the 2018 Billy Bones Grog-Off

James is no stranger to rum – he regularly shares very detailed reviews of rum to his wall on Facebook, typically accompanied by a history lesson.  It speaks well to his knowledge of craft that James won this year’s grog-off!!  Billy thanked the judges for their hard work and invited the gathered crowd to attend the awards ceremony and then try the rums for themselves.

Billy Bones was excited to award 2018 “Bonesy” trophies to Dan Garner (for Gumbo) and James Outman (for Grog), treasures they will keep in their hammocks forever – or as long as it takes to trade them for rum.

Winners of the 2018 Billy Bones Gumbo-Off and Grog-Off


Grog-Off Notes

Note that this year’s records for the event were nearly lost to an outbreak of hangover fever, but thanks to Billy’s Facebook Live documentary our crack team of documentarians have pieced most of the puzzle back together. If you have any additional information you may reply to this post.  Congratulations to all the winners, runners-up, judges, and audience members, and to Billy Bones for organizing this fun event every year!

Listed below is our best guess of contestants by entry number:

Grog #1 – Christina Bradley

Grog #2 – Blake Mauldin

Grog #3 – Matt Palma

Grog #4 – Israel Hands

Grog #5 – Carlos Nations

Grog #6 – David Lemley

Grog #7 – Coley Lemley

Grog #8 – James Outman


PiratePalooza wishes to congratulate Billy Bones for another terrific year of grog at the Tybee Island Pirate Festival!


2 Responses to this post.

  1. James Outman's Gravatar

    Posted by James Outman on 15.10.18 at 12:56 am

    Number 5 entry was submitted by Carlos Nations

  2. Captain Drew's Gravatar

    Posted by Captain Drew on 15.10.18 at 12:56 am

    Thank you!! And congratulations again!