Tait’s Seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II

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Tait's Seamanship 1913 Cover

This is an intersting example of the traditional question and answer format used in training seamen. As usual, click on the images for a readable scan. The first instalment of Tait’s Seamanship is here

Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II

Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II

Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II

Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II Tait’s seamanship, or how to sail a ship, part II

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Paddy West’s House!

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The series of scans from Tait’s Seamanship I began a few days ago reminded me of the song Paddy West’s House, which describes a rather less salubrious ‘educational’ establishment that achieved celebrity status in the city of Liverpool a century and a half ago – not least because of the famously useless ‘sailors’ crimper West supplied to skippers waiting to leave the docks.

My recording made yesterday evening is linked above. The box, by the way, is my latest melodeon, an ancient two-row Koch melodeon that might have been made in the 1910s or ’20s. It has a nice soft tone that makes it very pleasant to sing with, and I think I’ll be using it from time to time.

I learned the song from a record as a teenager and over the last few days half-remembered that I had got it from an old Topic sampler of sea songs, on which it was sung by Stan Kelly – but looking at the online discographies, I must be mistaken – almost the only recordings of the song I can find on that label that I can find was by Ewan MacColl. I must take a look through my father’s vinyl recordings when I get a chance.

I should also add a small word of caution. I now realise there could not be such a sail as a ‘forward top mains’l, however salty it may sound – but the teenager that learned the song so many years ago didn’t know that, and I suspect the singer he got it from wasn’t aware  either. So that’s another little job for me – get the lyrics technically right next time I sing it in public…

PS – Paul Mullings has pasted a nice alternative set of lyrics in the comments below. I hope this doesn’t mean he disapproves of mine!

Tait’s Seamanship, 1913, part I, or how to sail a ship

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Tait's Seamanship 1913 Cover

Tait's Seamanship 1913 Cover adverts 1 Tait's Seamanship 1913 adverts 2 Tait's Seamanship 1913 Compass and frontispiece

Tait's Seamanship 1913 preface Tait's Seamanship 1913 Introductory note and contents Tait's Seamanship 1913  contents

I’ve often wondered what ‘seamanship’ really is and who, if anyone, has the definitive article in their posession.

It’s not that I don’t understand or approve of the aims of seamanship – it’s about keep lives safe and protecting boats from harm while successfully travelling on the water. But, like the proverbial skinners of cats,  boat users all have their own methods, and there seems to be at least as many forms of correct seamanship as there are sailors.

Whatever sea-related activity you care to name, someone somewhere does it differently and will tell you all about it in a very firm and authoritative way – in the club bar, online or, sometimes, even on our own boats.

So I thought it might be fun and informative (and hopefully uncontroversial) to consider what seamanship was thought to be a century or so ago. So here are the cover and first few pages of Tait’s Seamanship, a splendid little document produced by a Glasgow maritime educational establishment whose principals had the good sense to provide courses for masters discreetly in a separate room.

I hope you enjoy the scans – as usual, click on the images for much larger, easily readable images.