Category Archives: Culture: songs, stories, photography and art

Traditions and culture relevant to the world of real boating and sailors

Fine old hornpipe Jacky Tar

A variant of the even older and better known Cuckoo’s Nest, the fabulous hornpipe Jacky Tar (sometimes Tarr) is actually the tune of an old song Jacky Tar Come Ashore with your Trousers On – a sweet little piece that is as charming as its title. Why trousers on? I believe it’s because for trousers were ‘formal’ shore-going attire. We still have that, don’t we? I may learn it one day…

When Jack had pulled the oar, and the boat was gone,
And the lassie on the shore with her head hanging down,
The tears stood in her eyes, and bosom heaving sighs,
Farewell, my dear, she cries, with your trousers on.

Farewell, said he, I go to sea, and you must stay behind,
But do not grieve, for while I live I ever will be kind,
And when I come to land you will meet me on the strand,
And welcome Jackie Tar with his trousers on.

Now peace is proclaimed, and the wars are all o’er,
The fleets they are moored, and the sailors come ashore,
Now you may see her stand with a glass into her hand,
To welcome Jack to land with his trousers on.

While up on high, she catched his, with all her lovely charms,
Her face he knew, and straight he flew and caught her in
his arms;
Her hand he kindly pressed, as he held her round the waist
And he kissed the bonnie lassie with his trousers on.

O Jack where have you been since you went from me,
And want have you seen upon the raging sea?
I mourned for your sake, while my heart was like to break,
For I thought l’d never see my Jack with his trousers on.

And while you staid, I sighed and prayed to Neptune and
to Mars,
That they would prove kind, and send you home save from
the wars,
And now to my request they have been pleased to list,
And send you to my breast with your trousers on.

I have sailed the seas for you to the torrid zone,
From the confines of Peru to Van Dieman’s Land,
From the Bay of Baltimore to the coast of Labrador,
But now I’m safe on shore with my trousers on.

I have beat the storms, in many forms, upon the raging main.
I have fought the foes, with deadly blows, and many a hero
I have heard the cannons roar, I have rolled in blood and gore
But now I’m safe on shore, with my trousers on.

I have been aloft when the winds have blown,
And I have been alost when the bombs were thrown,
But like a sailor bold, I am now come from the hold,
With my pockets full of gold, and my trousers on.

And now no more, from shore to shore, I’ll plough the rag-
ing seas,
But free from strife, as a man and wife, we’ll live in peace
and ease.
To the church this couple hied, and the priest the knot has
And the sailor kissed his bride with his trousers on.

Stunning videos of Portuguese Barco Rabelo being sailed and built

Rabelos are a traditional Portuguese cargo boat developed for transporting people and goods such as port wine along the Douro River to Porto.

The Wikipedia tells me that port wine companies continue to maintain a fleet of rabelos and race them each year on St John’s Day, June 24. It must be quite a sight.

My thanks to Dave Rowlands for spotting this one!

Suffolk – the uneatable cheese of the Royal Navy

I’d like to introduce you lot to the excellent Foods of England project.

I particularly liked its entry for Suffolk Cheese, a product that is no longer made for reasons that will become obvious. Until the mid-18th Century it was used by the Royal Navy to feed its sailors, but by all accounts it was dry, salty and so hard there were many stories and jokes about the difficulty of eating it.

Naval administrator Samuel Pepys wrote that he was upset when his domestic staff complained about having to eat it. On the 19th December 1825, The Hampshire Chronicle carried a notice that read: ‘As characteristic of Suffolk cheese, it said that a vessel once laden, one half with grindstones and the other half with the above commodity, on arriving at its destination it was found that the rats had consumed all the grindstones, but left the cheeses untouched.’

Historian NAM Rodger reports that the Navy gave up provisioning ships with the stuff in 1758, no doubt to loud cheering from the foc’sl. My crews, of course, are always provided with the finest cheese I can afford…

Other sea related entries are hardtack or ships biscuits (a nuclear bomb test was named after them), grog, bumpo, and  Cheshire cheese (another Naval staple).

My thanks to Sarah Coxson for the tip!