Pelorus Jack

Now the Cook Strait you’d call it a turbulent place,
Where the tides of two oceans meet up face to face,
And the waters run wild at the shortage of space,
Through the rocks and the reefs round the back.
If you’re headed for French Pass through Admiralty Bay,
You’d need a good pilot to show you the way,
And the best of them all, so there’s many still say
Was a dolphin called Pelorus Jack.

Chorus: Tell me where has he gone to, old Pelorus Jack,
With the foam on his fins and the spray on his back;
Once they’d follow the dorsal all shiny and black
Of the pilot of Marlborough Sounds.

It was just off Cape Francis this dolphin would cruise,
He’d a liking for steamships with loud noisy screws,
Then he’d tip ‘em his flipper and guide ‘em safe through
All the perils laid hid in their track;
Every channel he knew, every shallow and reef,
And the depth of each keel and the clearance beneath,
Then the word got around not a ship came to grief
If they followed old Pelorus Jack. Chorus

Pretty soon that old dolphin was well known to fame,
With his picture on postcards, the tourists all came;
And it’s many’s the noggin got raised in his name,
When the boys gathered round for the craic.
As the Penguin passed by him in 19 0 four,
Some fool fired a gun and they made a new law;
Then the Penguin got wrecked on the Marlborough shore,
When she sailed without Pelorus Jack. Chorus

Came the year nineteen twelve when he vanished from view:
Was he harpooned or stranded? well nobody knew,
Or he maybe got old like the rest of us do,
Still of theories you’ll find there’s no lack;
By the harbour of Heaven, some say there’s a strait
That leads to the quay by the old Pearly Gates;
Where a welcome committee is laid there in wait –
St Peter and Pelorus Jack.

Last Chorus: Maybe that’s where he’s gone to, Old Pelorus Jack .

© Bob Watson 1998


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