The Sealing Cruise of the Lone Flier
Come all ye jolly seal-men and listen to my song;
I don't mean to offend you, and won't delay you long;
It's all about our sealing trip from Twillingate to St. John's
We started to fit our vessel our before we had signed on.
Our ship was fitted very well, from a radio to a shovel.
The only thing delayed our ship was a little engine trouble.
While taking in our ballast, some of us were drunk,
And more of us worked very hard, while the others lay in bunk.
It was on a Tuesday morning when our captain came from shop.
He said, "My boys, you'll now sign on, and then you'll get the crop."
Our crop composed of boots and clothes, likewise a fork and pan.
If there's anything else you wan, my boys, you must get it how you can.
Some of us took oilclothes and one of us took a watch,
He had it for to see the time, while he was at the swatch.
We enjoyed ourselves there very well, with laughter and with smile,
When Thomas White he went on deck, saying "B'ys, her comes the ile!"
Our captain's name was Solomon White, our chief mate was John Oake,
Our bo'sun was George Daley, a good man for a joke.
The tenth day of March, at dawn, from St. John's we set sail,
With steam and canvas for the north she covered her lee rail.
At four o'clock that evening we put her in the ice;
We had to get her back again, and that did not look nice.
On the following morning the captain called all hands;
He thought it a good suggestion to put us on the rams.
Northeast by east and east northeast her course we steered that day,
Thinking to strike the whitecoats off Bonavista Bay.
We motored in the daytime, and tied up in the night,
And on the following evening the "Nascopee" hove in sight.
The captain he did go on board and the navigator too,
Reports fifty seals was on board, and all well was her crew.
While listening to the radio, we received good news that night;
The captain said he had to go, if the ice was not too tight.
We motored until three o'clock, and then we struck the fat,
Herbert Legge picked up a seal, Claude Hawkins got a cat.
All hands went out upon the ice, to do the best they can.
We picked up all our seals that day, but minus of one pan.
We killed most everyting we saw, from a hood unto a harp;
I don't just know who killed the most, but I think it was John Sharp.
Two accidents befell our crew upon that very day,
When Robert Legge met a narrow escape about two miles away.
Peter Trooke, a smart young man, was working in the hold
When a cask of oil fell through the hatch and gave him a severe blow.
Edmond Hines was a smart young man and everything went well,
Until we donkeyed him five times and he got mad as hell.
Our crew all numbered twenty-eight, with seven in the watch;
Seven rifles were used among these men, and they were all keen shots;
Now these two men I must include, and that's the engineers, -
Herbert Watkins was our chief, Jack White when he's not there.
It was on a Tuesday morning we made another start,
When Gordon Dove cried from the barrel, "I can see the schooner 'Harp!'"
We steered a course for Bonavist, the water calm and still,
But before dark we anchored in the place called Wesleyville.
Seldom-come-by was our next port; it was there we had to call;
The ice was cutting by the Cape, a knock-back for us all;
We slipped our lines in Seldom, for northward we were bound;
The ice was cutting by the Cape, and we could not get round.
And one thing then we did spy our, that our rudder was split in two;
It was Walter Pilkey found it our, a benefit to the crew.
And now to conclude and finish, I've one thing more to say, -
It was about one mile from Seldom, where we carried our blades away.
On the twenty-fifth of April, as we were near our town,
Four rodneys we then put out to tow her to the town.
Now our crew and captain must be mentioned. and I believe my song is the longes
t of all,
And if you want a berth to the ice, please give Mr Ashbourne a call.
(composed by the twenty-nine men of the crew of the Lone Flier, March 10-April 2
a 20th century "folk song by committee" telling the story of a sealing voyage. I
t is printed in "Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland" by Elisabeth Bristol Gr
eenleaf (1933 Harvard University Press, reprinted 1968 Folklore Associates). I
n the notes Greenleaf says she got the song from Herbert Watkins who said that t
he crew of the "Lone Flier" started making up the song at the beginning of the t
rip, whenever something happened someone would add a line or two or a verse. The
put out from Twillingate and when they returned they submitted it to the local
newpaper signing it "A Young Timer". For the tune
they used "The Lumber Camp Song" (that's the one with the 'hurling down the pin
e' line in it).