Archive for the ‘Bob Watson – Lyrics’ Category

Bosun’s Chair

February 5, 2014

I left me Irish home one day,
To make me fortune in the USA,
I had no money to pay me fare
So I worked me passage in the bosun’s chair.
We sailed from Cork on the morning tide,
In an old tramp steamer with rusty sides,
The mate says “Paddy” when he sees me there,
“You’d better get acquainted with the bosun’s chair”.
Ch.Paddy chip, keep chippin’ ‘till the long trips through,
To be sure that hammer makes an awful clammer;
The flakes fly here and the flakes fly there,
When you go rust chippin’ in the bosun’s chair.

On a plank hung over the starboard rail,
He set me a chippin’ at the rusty scale,
Me poor heart sank to dark despair
When I first clapped eyes upon the bosun’s chair.
The plank swung too, and the plank swung fro’,
With me backside a-soaking from the sea below,
Of the palpitations sure I had me share
‘Til I got the measure of the bosun’s chair.
Each day I’d chip ‘til the twilight fell,
And me eyes turned redder than the pits of hell,
Sure if Father O’Farrell could have seen me there
He’d have sworn ‘twas the devil on the bosun’s chair.
As each day was counted off upon me hand
I was one day closer to the Promised Land,
As the oxide paint made a fine repair to the plates
I’d hammered from the bosun’s chair.

Well I did the job as well as I could do
And the old ship started looking good as new,
And the mate says Paddy sure you’ve got the flair,
For the old rust chippin’ and the bosun’s chair.
When at last we landed in Baltimore,
With a dollar from the skipper sure I stepped ashore,
You can ship, says he any time you care,
There’s a welcome a-waitin’ in the bosun’s chair.

These days they say it’s got a lot less hard,
And each rust chipper has a union card;
With the mask and the goggles and the gloves to wear,
And the safety harness in the bosun’s chair.
When I’ve made my fortune I’ll be dressed in style,
For the homeward journey to the Emerald Isle
But there’s no forgetting how I first got there,
With me chippin’ hammer in the bosun’s chair

© Bob Watson 2000


Welsh Girls

February 1, 2014

It’s of a girl in Cardiff; I’ve heard the bosun say
Welsh girls are fine girls and bound to please you well.
She’s known as Naughty Nellie, boys, the pride of Tiger Bay.
And we’re homeward bound for Wales, where the girls’ll please you well.
And when he steps ashore, and the ship he leaves behind
Welsh girls are fine girls and bound to please you well.
It’s heave away for Tiger Bay with Nellie on his mind.
And we’re homeward bound for Wales, where the girls’ll please you well.

There’s Carrie down in Barry, well you’ve maybe heard her name?
She’ll take you with your sea boots on; for her it’s all the same,
She’s very tall and lanky, and you’d never lack for bliss,
As you’re climbing up her rigging boys, and looking for a kiss.

Ch.Well Oh well, they’re bound to please you well,
Welsh girls are fine girls, you’ve surely heard it tell!
Well oh well, you can find out for yourself,
Now we’re homeward bound for Wales where the girls’ll please you well

A chandler in Port Talbot, he had a daughter dear
And you’d see her by the counter where the sailors got their gear
Now her Daddy kept his ledgers and other books beside
While his daughter served the sailor men and kept ‘em satisfied.

It’s of a parson’s daughter who’d stand beside the quay
All in waiting for the sailor men home coming from sea;
But she wasn’t of the kind me boys who’d fleece you for your tin
As she handed out the gospels that would save your souls from sin
Each time I hear a squeezebox or concertina play,
Then I think of little Blodwen down from Aberaeron way;
Her fingers were so nimble and so sweetly did she sing:
As she squeezed away me money, boys, I never felt a thing.

All around the coast of Wales boys, there are ports in plenty more.
Where a welcome’s warm and waiting, when a sailor steps ashore,
I’ve sailed the seven oceans, to many a port of call,.
And I’d say the girls in Swansea are the finest of them all.
Aye we’re homeward bound for Wales where the girls will please you well!

© Bob Watson 1997


Walton Bay

February 1, 2014

Beside the Bristol Channel shore, Down in Walton Bay;
You’d see some sights in days of yore, Down in Walton Bay.
The sandbanks gleaming gold and bare, the Welsh hills far away,
And merchant shipping gathered there, Down in Walton Bay.

Chorus: And it’s down in Walton Bay,
Merchant ships in fine array; Waiting for the tide to turn,
Down in Walton Bay.

And what a sight to feast your eyes, Down in Walton Bay;
Fine ships of every shape and size, Down in Walton Bay.
For Avonmouth and Bristol bound their house flags on display,
To catch the tide they waited round, Down in Walton Bay.

Some were familiar names to me, Down in Walton Bay;
The Clara Stinnes I’d often see, Down in Walton Bay.
I got to know her flavours well, when at her hook she lay,
By the chiming of her forepeak bell, Down in Walton Bay.

When at last the tide was on the turn, Down in Walton Bay;
Their screws would make the waters churn, Down in Walton Bay.
Their chains would clank, their winches whined, as they got underway;
With muddy waters left behind, Down in Walton Bay.


Along the Bristol Channel shore, Down in Walton Bay;
That’s one more sight you’ll see no more, Down in Walton Bay.
Since winds of changing fancies blew the merchant trade away,
Those handsome craft are gone from view, Down in Walton Bay.

Final Chorus: And it’s down in Walton Bay,
No more ships in fine array,
Waiting for the tide to turn,
Down in Walton Bay.

© Nobby Dye & Bob Watson 2006


Slip Along Home

February 1, 2014

Ch.Slip along home, girl, take your time,
There ain’t no need to hurry;
There’s no one going to worry if we’re late;
So slip along home girl, easy now,
We’ll take it nice and steady —
Until we’re good and ready, they can wait.

1. Now you and I we’ve sailed together,
Open seas and shoaly shore;
Our cargoes run through wind and weather,
Fifty years and more.
Music in the songs you sang me,
Creaking gear and running seas,
Your steady helm beneath my hand,
That set me heart at ease. . . . So…Chorus

2. Now you and I’ve grown old together,
Changing times have passed us by;
And there’s no place for you and me
As old ways fade and die.
The future’s not a pretty picture,
Now there’s need for us no more –
With you left rotting up some creek
And me upon some shore. . . . . So…Chorus

3. It seems we’re blessed with breezy weather,
Time to make some sail and go;
Final trip we take together,
Nice to make a show.
Hungry shoals are laid in waiting,
Long time cheated of their prey,
Now would it grieve your heart too sore
If things should end that way. . . . So…Chorus

© Bob Watson 1997



February 1, 2014

Now modern ships carry mighty funny gear,
And away, get away, you shantyman.
Ain’t seen a halyard in many’s a year,
An’ they got no use for a shantyman.
Slick new fittings are all you’ll sight,
And away, get away, you shantyman.
All very clever, but it just ain’t right;
Ch. An’ they got no use for a shantyman.
Shantyman, oh, shantyman,
Who’s got a berth for a shantyman?
Sing us a song of a world gone wrong,
When they got no use for a shantyman.

Dials and Buttons is all they need
And your real live sailor he’s a vanishing breed;
Pushing on the buttons and pullin’ on the levers
And they got no use for horny-handed heavers.

Soon they’ll be sailing by remote control,
An’ that’ll be pleasing to the owners’ soul;
They’ll move their ships from dock to dock,
All sat upon their arses in an office block.

New-fangled gear’s no use to you
When you’re off Cape Horn with your fuses blew;
Then’s the time for to curse the day
You sent your shantyman away.

Old-time ways are forgotten and gone,
For no-one listens to a shantyman’s song.
Things no longer as they used to be;
It’s the knacker’s yard for you and me.

Listen at night and you might hear
A ghostly sound on the quiet air;
Is it a ghost from the distant past,
Or just a breeze in the radar mast?

© Bob Watson 1984


Revival Mutiny

February 1, 2014

Refused our orders on the barque Revival, got three months in Dunedin Jail;
And statements sworn on the Holy Bible ruined any chance of bail.
You’d maybe think that we got off lightly, we might have hanged in days of yore;
For all our Captain might be a bastard, still mutiny’s against the law.
Ch.And it’s labour, hard labour,
Policemen waiting on the dock;
It’s labour, hard labour, shifting Bell Hill rock by rock.

Nathaniel France he was our spokesman, got a sentence more severe
He cursed our Captain and loudly damned him, and said it where the judge could hear.
They’d met before on a Yankee whaler, served together years ago;
Across the world and all around Australia, they’d fought each other blow for blow.

Now Captain Ferguson was mean as poison, and half the crew jumped ship at Bluff,
The rest of us vowed no more to serve him, be it calm or be it rough.
Out in the Strait there he nearly lost her, when we refused to work the sails.
“That’s mutiny”, sez he, “and that’ll cost yer in the cells of Dunedin Jail!”

The Captain’s blood it was nearly boiling as we approached the Scotsman’s lair,
He wouldn’t stop to take on a pilot, but blundered in and wrecked her there.
Nathaniel France and us poor sailors were blamed and sentenced that is true;
We served our time, then we sued the Captain, won back the wages for the crew!
Ch.It’s no more labour, hard labour,
Policemen waiting on the dock.
We’re done with labour, hard labour, shifting Bell Hill rock by rock.

© Mike McPhee & Bob Watson 2010


The Masterless Men

February 1, 2014

They were serfs from the pastures of England and Ireland,
Victims of poverty driven to roam;
They were tricked out to sea by the lies of recruiters,
On the deep water fishing fleets far from their homes.
Jumped ship at Newfoundland, too late they discovered
They’d gone from the frying pan into the flame:
They were prey to the merchants and slaves to the planters,
But yet as deserters they could not complain . . .
Chorus: And they called them the Masterless Men,
Cherished their freedom, no matter how hard;
And they swore that they’d never be captured again —
There’d be bondage no more for the Masterless Men.

To the desolate wilderness of the interior,
They made their escape to the timber and stone;
There, far from the reach of the ones who’d oppressed them,
This wild rugged country they made it their own.
From villages hidden so deep in the hillside,
There after a fashion, a living they made;
If hardship and danger’s the price of your freedom,
By men with no choice it’s already been paid.

Like wolves in the night, they came out of the forest,
And robbed the rich planters who lived by the shore;
Then back to the wilds, where there’s none dared to follow,
Down the dark secret footways they melted once more.
And girls from the coves and the far fishing stations,
Accustomed already to life in the raw,
Moved into the hills to be wives for wild husbands,
Continued the line with the children they bore . . . .

To some they were heroes, to some they were villains,
Admired by the many and feared by the few,
And their blood’s running still in the veins of Newfoundland,
Those Masterless Men that no one could subdue.
And it’s well to remember when speaking of freedom,
To some it comes easy, for some it means war;
And liberty’s song sounds the better for singing,
When treading the footsteps of those gone before.

© Bob Watson 1988



February 1, 2014

Oh the southern ocean is a lonely place
Where the storms are many and the shelter’s scarce
Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn
On the restless water and the troublin’ skies
You can see that mollymauk wheel and fly
Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn
Ch. Won’t you ride the wind and go, white seabird
Won’t you ride the wind and go, mollymauk
Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn

See the mollymauk floatin’ on his wide white wings
And lord, what a lonely song he sings Down upon the southern ocean sail in Down below Cape Horn
And he’s got no compass and he’s got no gear
And there’s none can tell ya how the mollymauks steer Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn

He’s the ghost of a sailor-man as I’ve heard say
Who’s body sank, and his soul flew away Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn
And he’s got no haven and he’s got no home
He’s bound evermore for to wheel and roam Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn

When I gets too weary for to sail no more
Let my bones sink better far away from shore Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn
You can cast me loose and leave me driftin’ free
And I’ll keep that big bird company Down upon the southern ocean sailing
Down below Cape Horn

© Bob Watson 1987


Old Ports Of Call

February 1, 2014

1. In days of my youth I sailed upon a Thames barge,
Carrying the cargoes out of London River;
Tan coloured spritsails they made quite a show,
When the wind blew her right, well she couldn’t half go.
I sailed as a mate and later as a skipper
All along the coastline, up and down the rivers,
Not many places a barge couldn’t go.
So the harbours were plenty that I came to know.
Chorus: Old ports of call, so many I remember, Antwerp & Ipswich, Rotterdam & Roscoff
All come to life when a tune starts to play, and it puts me in mind of a by-gone day.

2. Sometimes going foreign, out across the Channel,
Wherever there was cargoes we could fetch and carry,
Sacks of potatoes, sugar beet or grain –
When they filled up our hold, then we’d sail once again.
Some evenings would find us moored up to some quayside,
Music for the making with the other sailors;
Many diff’rent lingoes, but nobody cared,
When a scrape on the fiddle’s worth more than a word.

3. This tune that I’ve played, I learned it off a French bloke,
Skipper of a tugboat, pulled me off a sandbank;
Played it on a squeezebox, sitting in a bar,
Where I took a Pernod with Johnny Francois.
I once saw a girl, they said her name was Rosa,
Standing on a table, dancing for the sailors;
Clack – clack went her heels, while her white frillies flew,
Then two fellers fought for a garter she threw.

4. It was good while it lasted, but times they were a-changing,
Cargoes in containers, bigger ships to take them;
Saw many sailcraft driven from the sea,
And a blight on the future for blokes like me.
Now I got no wish for going back to see them,
Old ports of call, to pay another visit;
Too many changes I wouldn’t wish to see,
And I’d rather remember how times used to be.

© Bob Watson 2007

Pelorus Jack

February 1, 2014

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