Tag Archives: shanties

A weekend of shanties and sea songs aboard Morning Star

Fancy a weekend of sailing, shanties and sea songs aboard the fabulous Medway-based sail training ship Morning Star in a few weeks time?

Boarding is at 6pm on Friday 29th May 2015 at Chatham Maritime Marina and disembarking is at the same place at 3pm on Sunday.

You’ll learn to sing and sail you go, using old hauling and heaving shanties, as well as raucous songs of ‘Jack Ashore’ and haunting homeward bound melodies sung by sailors past and present.

The costs are £144 under 26 years and £180 over 26 years; all meals from supper on day 1 to lunch on day 3 re included, along with use of life jacket, waterproofs and boots, and all sailing and singing tuition.

For more information contact the Morning Star folks at support@morningstar.org.uk .

The history of shanty singing

Pete Truin of the youthful shanty singing outfit The Ballina Whalers has written a thoughtful, informative article about the history of shanty singing. Great stuff Pete!

‘During this period of history, it has been said that there was an Irishman onboard every sailing ship of every nation and there can be no doubt that the prevailing folk song and ballad tradition in Western Europe gave rise to shanties with distinct narrative verses, often warning the sailors of the perils of venereal disease or unscrupulous landlords!’

And:

‘The influence of African-American and West Indian work songs within the shantying tradition is profound, with many songs being closely related to plantation and railroad work songs in their structure, and many West Indian shantymen, such as Harry Lauder, being revered as excellent seamen and singers long after their passing. In the southern states of the USA, many European sailors rubbed shoulders and swapped songs with the dock workers loading their ships, when the hard work of screwing cotton bales down in the hold of the ships required both songs to haul the lifting tackle, and heaving songs to turn the heavy screws. Unlike the more narrative songs of the Liverpool-Irish tradition, the words of West Indian shanties were often improvised and interchangeable.’

I should add that The Ballina Whalers have a new album out…