A whalerman’s lament learned from the singing of AL Lloyd, who at one time worked on the whalers… I really don’t know how traditional it is, given Lloyd’s talent for improving the songs he picked up. Whatever, it’s a damned powerful piece that doesn’t shrink from describing the brutality of the work, nor what seems to be an example of exploitatation. It’s also yet another sea song designed to be a warning to others…
The little town of Salcombe at the southern tip of Devon has a smashing, packed little community museum that’s open from 10.30am-12.30pm from April to October – it’s definitely worth a trip, as it’s full of great exhibits about shipping, boatbuilding, fishing and pleasure boating.
One of the many things I learned was that Tennyson wrote his iconic poem Crossing the Bar in 1889 after arriving at Salcombe in a very impressive and comfortable looking steam yacht.
I wonder what the bar looked like that day, and what stories he heard about it. That bar has a history: just a generation after Tennyson wrote his poem in 1916 the town experienced a terrible lifeboat disaster in which 13 crewmen drowned.
If you can take a dinghy down for a sail or a motor on the lovely estuary, I recommend that too…
Montagu whaler 124/1964
Bristol charity Rocking the Boat Bristol member Steve Evans is rebuilding a 1964 Montagu whaler named Swan, but are short of oars, mast and sailing kit. If anyone has these they can offer, Rocking the Boat would be most grateful for your help. Email me at email@example.com and I’ll pass the message along.
In addition, Rocking the Boat has another Montagu whaler (built: Portsmouth 1964, no 124) that we would like to give to someone who wants to finish its rebuild. It’s basically sound but needs a new home, and is at present lying in Bristol.
Steve has this to say about the story of Swan and whaler no. 124/1964:
‘She was reputedly built in Malta and was once owned by Berni Bruen, who wrote the Song of the Montagu Whaler (scroll down this page to find it), and later by Graham Brown in Falmouth .
‘After Graham passed away, Jonny Mills from Falmouth Marine School took her under his wing and completed some major repairs with students.
‘The story then shifts to Bristol where she now lies and is being further renovated with a possible showing at the Semaine du Golfe, Brittany next May.
‘There is much work to be done and either fabrication or sourcing of the two masts and oars to complete the project by retired chaps under the aegis of All-Aboard Watersports and Rocking the Boat Bristol.
‘The Beagle Project , based in Devonport, have been most encouraging in our project and gave us the second whaler, which sadly bwe find we cannot find the resources to complete. We are therefore looking to a group or individual who would be interested in taking her on before we have to cut her up. She was built at Portsmouth in 1964 and is numbered 124.
‘If you are interested in the boat or have any oars / sailing kit for our boat Swan, I would very much appreciate contact from you.
There will be more to follow on Swan’s Story in later writings.’
Thanks Steve! Please contact him either via Rocking the Boat Bristol (link above) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pass the message along.