The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2815332
Posted By: John Minear
18-Jan-10 - 06:21 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Here is one of Gibb Sahib's versions of "Fire Down Below", a pumping shanty:

After the wreck of the "Julia Ann" in October of 1855, and the subsequent rescue of most of the passengers and crew, Captain Pond returned to San Francisco and then set out on a fifth voyage to Sydney aboard a Dutch ship, the Horizont. On this voyage, he says:

"Fire at sea is always a present danger, but its actual occurrence will undoubtedly stir the blood of the most sluggish, and we had this experience which really aroused our sleepy Dutchmen for a day at least, to something like old fashioned Yankee go. It was caused by one of our Dutch passengers falling asleep while smoking his pipe, and the fire ate its way into the baggageroom before it was finally extinguished, with no serious damage other than the salt water soaking of a considerable quantity of theatrical furbelows." (Pond Memoirs)

Here is another of Gibb's versions of "Fire Down Below""

The above incident reminded Pond of an experience that he had on one of the voyages of the "Julia Ann" (he is not specific about which one). He recounts the following:

"It was a wet, drizzly day. The ship was lazily moving ahead before a light breeze, dead aft, head sails set, main course and top sail hanging loose in their clews, spanker and gaff topsail furled, when suddenly, like a flash, fire burst out forward, the flame in a broad sheet of fire, leaping clean up to the foretop. I was standing aft by the wheel. Of course at such an apparition every one naturally rushed forward. Before reaching the break of the quarter deck, my hat blew off, and instinctively I turned to chase the hat. Well, the fire was occasioned by the boiling over of the cook's pot of fat in the galley. The rigging was fortunately soaking wet, nothing ignited, and the fire disappeared almost as suddenly as it appeared, but it was a standing joke poked at me the remainder of that voyage, the Captain chasing his hat with the forward part of his ship in a blaze of fire."

And here's another version from Gibb Sahib:

However, on the return to San Francisco of the Julia Ann's third voyage to Sydney, Pond was faced with a much more serious situation. He was hauling 400 tons of coal from Newcastle. After leaving Heuania where he had obtained a "fairly liberal supply of fresh provisions," he says,

"the cabin boy came to me with a peculiar complaint. He said that in going to and from the storeroom, which was located aft under the cabin and to reach which he had to pass over a portion of the coal cargo, it was so hot that it burnt his feet - to me an awful suggestion. I enjoined strict silence on the boy, and immediately went below for a personal inspection. I found the cargo heating, and in a kind of cone or funnel it was too hot to be handled by the naked hand, in fact, it seemed on the point of bursting into a conflagration. Not a moment was to be lost. I off coat, seized a shovel and for an hour or two there alone, in the hold of the ship, shoveled at that cone, scattering the coal, and giving it air, until all immediate danger from fire was averted."

Another version of "Fire Down Below" by Gibb Sahib:

I like the sound of the pump!