Tag Archives: Sam Larner

The rule of the road told in verses

SS Metapan sunk by the SS Iowan

SS Metapan sunk by a collision withthe SS Iowan; image from Popular Mechanics magazine published in 1915. Image placed on the Wikimedia by Pmcyclist

 

I found the following useful navigation rhymes in a book that Mike Smylie was kind enough to give me at the weekend – it previously belonged to his father. I’ve heard them before, notably from old Sam Larner, but haven’t seen them printed out. And as a bonus they came with some extra verses relating to sailing vessels.

The book is titled The Yachtsman’s Week End Book, written by John Irving and Douglas Service, and I think it’s a gem because of the way it opens a window into the different attitudes of the past. For example I particularly liked this quotation: ‘Four things shalt thou not see aboard a yacht for its comfort – a cow, a wheelbarrow, and umbrella and a naval officer.’

But back to the rhymes – they may be wrong in the current age, so please don’t take them as gospel. I can’t accept responsibility if you do!

Two steamships meeting:

When both lights you see ahead

Starboard wheel and show your red

Two steamships passing:

Green to green or red to red

Perfect safety, go ahead

Two steamships crossing:

If to your starboard red appear

It is your duty to keep clear

To act as judgement says is proper

To port or starboard, back or stop her

But when upon your port is seen

A steamer’s starboard light of green

There’s not much for you to do

For green to port keeps clear of you

However, all ships must keep a look-out and steamships must stop and go astern if necessary:

Both in safety and in doubt

Always keep a good look-out

In danger with no room to turn

Ease her, stop her, go astern

But these rules don’t work so well for sailing vessels. Instead, the following rhyme is proposed:

Now those four rules we all must note

Are no use in a sailing boat

As we’re dependent on the wind

Another set of rules we find

A close-hauled ship you’ll never see

Give way to one that’s running free

It’s easier running free to steer

And that’s the reason she keeps clear

With the wind the same side, running free

One’s to windward, one to lee

The leeward ship goes straight ahead

The other alters course instead

Both close-hauled or both quite free

On different tacks we all agree

The ship that has the wind to port

Must keep well clear, is what we’re taught

At other times the altering craft

Is the one that has the wind right aft

 

Advertisements

If the Bold Princess has sea-room, brave boys never fear!

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

Perhaps the pre-eminent traditional British song about pirates

For more from intheboatshed.net on pirates, click here.

Beyond the Quay, a CD of sea songs by Tom and Barbara Brown

Tom and Barbara Brown’s new album Beyond the Quay is
made up of sea songs

Tom and Barbara Brown are old friends, and I’m very pleased that they should should put out a CD of sea-songs. Songs connected with the sea  have been out of fashion around the folk scene’s clubs and festivals for far too long in this country.

Interestingly, even though I’ve recently heard the claim that sea shanties are the new Rock’n’Roll, there are none here. Instead, this CD is full of songs about ships, ports, sailors, and of course heroes and villains. Most are traditional and most belong to the West Country.

Tom and Barbara’s performances are marked by some very effective harmony singing, of which there are two excellent examples here: Young Susan and a version of The Death of Nelson to a tune learned by the couple from traditional source singer George Dunn of Staffordshire, with additional verses from the broadside ballad.

Another aspect of this disk that I particularly like is that it includes a very nice but less well known version of one of my favourites, The Bold Princess Royal. Tom’s version from Bristol is much harder to sing than the one I know from Sam Larner so much so that he gets extra points from me for making an excellent job of it. I gather it came originally from a singer called Albert Lightfoot.

In the interests of historical veracity I should explain that Tom’s version has the same problem as Larner’s – he has the British ship being chased to windward, which seems unlikely as the Moorish pirates’ xebecs were far better to windward than the British boats during the era being described.

And I should also add that Tom and Barbara have been lucky enough to be supported on this CD by our old friend Keith Kendrick and young musicians and singers Emily and Hazel Askew.

Copies of Beyond the Quay are available direct from Doug Bailey at WildGoose Studios and from folk music CD stockists generally. While you’re over at Doug’s emporium, do take a look at some of the other recordings he has on offer including Keith Kendrick’s recent CD Songs from the Derbyshire Coast.

Further information about Tom and Barbara Brown and a programme of their performances and general doings is available from their website http://www.umbermusic.co.uk .

Don’t miss any thing good – SUBSCRIBE to intheboatshed.net below: