The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34323   Message #462887
15-May-01 - 01:13 PM
Thread Name: The origin of Sea Chanteys
Subject: RE: The origin of Sea Chanteys

Thanks, Your posts are clear, well thought out and well informed. Let me assure you though that the "Genuine Sea Chantey" is far from extinct, at least in my little corner. I've related this in another thread, somewhere, but here it goes again.

HMS Rose's first winter was in the old, now unused, ferry terminal in Jamestown Rhode Island. None of the sailing crewmembers were still around, except for Donna, Myself and John Millar (Rose's owner ) John woke me up at 0600 one morning and told me that the ship had to be moved from the slip it was in to the one next to it. A former "Staten Island Ferry boat" was, at that moment steaming up to Jamestown to be converted into a floating MOTEL and restaurant, and it needed the machinery in the slip that was then occupied by "Rosie" The ferry was due to arrive around 1700. He had arranged for "Black Pearl's" crew to assist me, but they had to cancel at the last minute to pick up a new diesel in Providence.
Rose had no auxilliary engines at the time, so, it had to be warped from one ferry slip to another. Furthermor, he had to pick up his father at the T.F.Greene international airport in Warwick. That left me and the capstan. Along about 1500, it was becoming evident that there was no one to help me and I could see the smoke from the ferry's stack coming up Narragansett Bay.,BR. ,BR.i went ashore to the "drug store - soda fountain" where the high school kids had just started assembling. I chose the four biggest boys and told them to follow me. Jumping at the chance to go aboard "Rosie" to help out, they followed me. Once aboard, I explained that we were going to attach a long nylon rope, called a "Warp Line", to the next ferry slip, and, the wind and tide being just right, take in all the present mooring lines. This would then allow the ship to drift out of it's present location into the channel. Then we would use the capstan to pull in to where we wnted to be. They all indicated that they understood But, I neglected to tell them I was going to sing, so we started heaving and I started singing"Heave away Johnny". They began jumping up into the air and yelling "YAAA..HOOO....". Of course when all the slack was out of the warp line, we stopped moving.
I gathered them around me in a column of bunches, and explained that I was singing to keep us all in step, and that unless we were in step, we would sarve to death in he middle of Naragansett bay as there weren't enough of us to do the job without a coordinated effort. They understood this philisophically, but still jumped up and yelled YAA.......HOOOO....

So I started singing , "Come on Over Baby, whole lot o' shakin' goin' on"
Come on over baby, baby you can't go wrong.
I aint fakin' Whole lot o' shakin' goin' on"
Then they chimed in with "Shake Baby Shake, shake baby shake" etc. When the singing got them into step, the ship began to move again and they felt the difference. You could almost see a lightbulb go on over their collective heads.

"Rosie moved into place and "Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On'" became a genuine capstan chantey.