Tag Archives: sea shanty

Two sea shanties for singing sailors

Two proper sea shanties that are highly suitable for the singing sailor.

I gather ‘noggin’ was a very rude word a century or two back but seems remarkably harmless now… And for that I guess we can thank Oliver Postgate, creator of the cartoon character Noggin the Nog.

PS – And here’s a forebitter about a common sailor’s fantasy – the young woman who dresses as a boy and goes to sea.

Haul away Joe sung by Malcolm Ward

Sea song specialist Malcolm Ward sings the shanty Haul Away Joe in explosive style at the Frittenden Old Fashioned Night Out weekend earlier this year.

Listening to it now, I’m reminded of a lovely moment in a recent TV programme about foods produced in Kent.

Presenter Giles Coren was on board a sailing barge showing us how barges were used to carry apples and cherries to London, returning with horse manure for the fields. He’s asked to haul on some line or other with the skipper Brian Pain, and while doing so he says ‘Aren’t there some songs to help you do this?’

‘Oh yes,’ said Brian. ‘But they’re full of rude words.’

I doubt Malcolm’s entertaining version of Haul Away Joe will cause much offence, but I guess it gives an idea…

The wonderful photo above comes from the Wikipedia, and shows the full-rigged ship Garthsnaid at sea in around 1920. The sailors are securing a section of the foresail that had come free from its gaskets (ties used to secure a sail that isn’t in use) in heavy weather. The photo is by Alexander Harper Turner, and is held in the De Maus Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand.

Lowlands away!


Here’s a ghost story for Halloween – the great old slow sea shanty Lowlands, with an engraving drawn from Van der Velde and photos from Geoffrey Robertshaw.

To find out more about Robertshaw and his fabulous photos of the last days of sail, click here.

For more sea songs from our friends and ourselves, click here.

PS – Like many others, I was astonished to learn that this year’s Turner Prize has been won by a sound sculpture featuring this very song.

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