Funny you should ask--I love to answer that question, cause I found out the answer by accident! (And no one's ever asked before).
You may be familiar with the Canadian writer Farley Mowat. Stan certainly was since Mowat is one of our cultural eminences (now a sort of aged enfant terrible in the literary scene). Mowat wrote two books, many years ago, chronicling the activities of certain deepwater salvage tugs in the North Atlantic--the books are "Grey Seas Under" (1959) and "The Serpents Coil" (1962). One of them recounts an anecdote with a lot of similarities to "Wreck of the Athens Queen", concerning the wreck of an ancient tramp freighter which was the oceangoing home of an extended Greek family, so they had all kinds of goats and chickens and so on on board.
In this case, the salvage attempt had been abandoned due to terrible weather, which sent the 200' ocean-going tug running for shelter--only to encounter, on her way into harbour, a bunch of hardy Newfoundlanders heading out to the wreck (now fair game) in dories and little Cape Islanders and what have you.
Both these books are a damn good read if you like that kind of thing--and I believe there's more song-fodder in those pages yet!
The liner notes, as I recall, mention that Stan finished the song just in time to record it, and hardly ever played it again. Wish I could toss 'em out and throw them back like that.