by Wellington Sea Shanty Society

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    Get all 5 Wellington Sea Shanty Society releases available on Bandcamp and save 35%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Ahoy!, Now That's What I Call A Sea Shanty Podcast, NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL SEA SHANTIES Vol II, NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL SEA SHANTIES vol. 1, and The Cook Strait Demos. , and , .

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  • Limited Edition Compact Disc
    Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Jewel case CD with double sided A4 shanty sheet so you can sing along as you listen. Guitar chords also included!

    Includes unlimited streaming of NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL SEA SHANTIES vol. 1 via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

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The Sea Hates a Coward | A history of the W.S.S.S

"What comes first the sea or the shanty? For some, the shanty is their only way to relate the un-relatable: the foam of days – a life at Sea. For others, a shanty may transmit a maladie, something the sea alone can cure. Since time immemorial (1804), members of the Wellington Sea Shanty Society, however, have known there is no separating the salt from the spume.

They say the first W.S.S.S Shanteur was half man, half taniwha, half woman. Wasn’t so much born as broke upon the land, like a rogue wave, round Makara way. Had a voice like a porpoise in heat and moved like seaweed in the shallows. This mysterious progenitor 
soon had the whares and flophouses of Whanga-nui-a Tara awash with marine melodies. Wellington was officially a shanty town. 

The most affected began to meet secretly, after dark, at bring-a-bottle affairs on the bad side of Breaker Bay. The gatherings were frequented by visiting sailors from far and wide – and the regulars known as the finest (and drunkest) choir in the south seas. No surprise that when the law came to town, they were driven undergound.

BUT – the bottle is full again! The W.S.S.S have surfaced and can be heard singing once more. What's more, they can be sung with too! - without (much) fear of inprisonment. 

The current performing members, Lake Davineer & Vorn Dont le Père Etait Marin, have even been accorded the rank of Shanatee* -the highest honour the W.S.S.S can bestow.

It’s not often a group is at once our heritage and our future. With a shanty there’s a way to find freedom, on the waves of the great open sea..."

Lin Seal | Wellington Nautical History Monthly

*after the legendary group of manatees taught to sing shanties by 15th century sailors


released July 1, 2013

Vorn Dont le Père Etait Marin: Squeezebox, Bass, Vocals, Log Drum
Lake Davineer: Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Ben Wood: Kick Drum, Tom Drums
Su Keates: Violin
Mike D: Double Bass

Recorded/mixed by Lake in the galley of an old abandoned barque.
Ahoy! and Thank you: Friends & family, People who sing at shows
and un Grand Merci à Croche Dedans!




Wellington Sea Shanty Society Wellington, New Zealand

Aotearoa New Zealand's Most 'Sea Worthy' Shanty Group™

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Track Name: John Kanak
*capo 2nd fret
On a whaling ship John woke today
John Kanak Kanak a too la aye
Just as some bloke called "anchors aweigh!"
John Kanak Kanak a too la aye

Ah too la aye ah too la aye
John Kanak Kanak a too la aye
Ah too la aye ah too la aye
John Kanak Kanak a too la aye

They signed 'im up in a beer café
Got him drunk for free but soon he'd pay

Now he hoists the sail in the cold sea spray
while the bastard captain he sips Mount Gay!

Rounding Cape Horn John started to pray
But god is cruel in a stormy way

They look for whales or the live long day
Ain't caught naught but the towering waves

John jumped 'a' ship down at Spirits Bay
John Kanak Kanak a too la aye
Met a Maori girl from Whangarei

Now John's content with his Wahine
Swears to her he'll never whale again.
Track Name: Haul Away Joe
*capo 2nd fret
Am Em
When I was a little lad,
Dm Em
Or so my mother told me
Am Em
Way, haul away,
Dm Em Am
we’ll haul away,  Joe
That if I did not kiss the girls
My lips would grow all mouldy
Way, haul away
We’ll haul away, Joe.

King Louis was the King of France
Before the revolution
But then he got his head cut off
Which spoiled his constitution.

Oh, once I had a Newtown girl
And she was fat and lazy
Then I got a Brooklyn gal
She damn near drove me crazy.

So I got a Tawa girl
And she was kind and tender
She left me for a Aucklander
So young and rich and slender.

Way, haul away
I’ll sing to you of Nancy
Way, haul away
She’s just my cut and fancy.

Oh, once I was in Napier
Workin' at the New World
But now I’m on the J'ville Line
A-hauling suits and school girls.

The cook is in the galley
Making duff so handy
And the captain’s in his cabin
Drinkin’ wine and brandy.

Way, haul away
The good ship is a-bowling
Way, haul away
The sheet is now a-blowing.

Way, haul away
We’ll haul away together
Way, haul away
We’ll haul for better weather.
Track Name: Across The Line
I’ve traded with the Maori, Brazilians and Chinese
I’ve courted dark-eyed beauties, beneath the kauri trees.
I’ve travelled along with a laugh and a song in the land where they call you mate
Around the Horn and home again, for that is the sailor’s fate.

Across the Line
The Gulf Stream
I’ve been in Table Bay.
Around the Horn
And home again
Am G C
For that is the sailor’s way.

I’ve run aground in many a sound, without a pilot aboard
Longboat lowered by lantern light, pushed off and gently oared.
Row-lock creaking, a thumping swell and a wind that’d make you ache
Who would sail the seven seas and share a sailor’s fate?

We’ve sailed away to Northward, we’ve hauled away to East
We’ve skimmed our sail in the teeth of a gale and stood in the calmest seas
We’ve set our course by a Southern Star, by Stewart through the Strait
Westward round by Milford Sound, for that is the sailor’s fate.
Track Name: Come All You Tonguers
Come all you tonguers and land-loving lubbers 
Here's a job cutting-in and boiling down blubbers 
A job for the youngster or old and ailing 
The agent will take any man for shore whaling

        D                     A
I am paid in soap and sugar and rum 
For cutting in whale and boiling down tongue 
        G                             D
The agent's fee makes my blood so to boil 
                            A            D
I'll ... push! him in a hot pot of oil

Go hang the agent, the company too 
They are making a fortune off me and off you 
No chance of a passage from out of this place 
And the price of living's a blooming disgrace!!
Track Name: Davy Lowston
Oh my name is Davy Lowston, I did seal, I did seal. 
My name is Davy Lowston, I did seal.
G Em C D
Though my men and I were lost, though our very lives it cost 
Em C D
We did seal, we did seal, we did seal

We were set down in Open Bay, we were set down, were set down 
We were set down in Open Bay, we were set down 
We were left we gallant men, never more to sail again 

For to seal, for to seal, for to seal.
Our Captain John Bedar he set sail, he set sail. 
Our Captain John Bedar he set sail 
“I’ll return, men, & not fail” - but she foundered in a gale
And went down, and went down, and went down.

We cured ten thousand skins for the fur, for the fur. 
We cured ten thousand skins for the fur.
Brackish water, putrid seal, we did all of us fall ill,
For to die, for to die, for to die.

Come all you sailor lads who sail the sea, sail the sea,
Come all you jolly tars who sail the sea,
Though the schooner Governor Bligh took on some who did not die 
Never seal, never seal, never seal.
Track Name: Soon May The Wellerman Come
There was a ship that put to sea,
The name of the ship was the Billy of Tea 
The winds blew up, her bow dipped down,
Em Am
O blow, my bully boys, blow.

Soon may the Wellerman come 
Dm Am
And bring us sugar and tea and rum.
One day, when the tonguin’ is done, 
Em Am
We’ll take our leave and go.

She had not been two weeks from shore 
When down on her a right whale bore. 
The captain called all hands and swore 
He’d take that whale in tow.

Before the boat had hit the water 
The whale’s tail came up and caught her. 
All hands to the side, harpooned and fought her 
When she dived down below.

No line was cut, no whale was freed; 
The Captain’s mind was not of greed, 
But he belonged to the whaleman’s creed; 
She took the ship in tow.

For forty days, or even more, 
The line went slack, then tight once more. 
All boats were lost (there were only four) 
But still the whale did go.

As far as I know, the fight’s still on; 
The line’s not cut and the whale’s not gone. 
The Wellerman makes his regular call 
To the Captain, crew, and all.
Track Name: Reagan Dougan
*Capo 4th fret
T'was an illustrious crew aboard the Manchester
G Am
All buccaneers o' the big blue and captained by Spencer
Am F7 Em
A chain o' gold or a wooden leg whatever, come what may
Am Em Am
the pirate oath 'll keep us true until judgement day!

So Reagan Dougan and the sailor folk Hi Ho!
Stand by to board! & then our hoard! will only grow & grow!
Slay 'em all for the haul or your final hurrah
'll be to hang your neck in noose like a pompous bourgeois!

T'was a sacred gang 'o scum sea farin' pirates all
Scallywags each 'n every one, at daylight & night fall
To steal & loot & stab & shoot it's our occupation
For the gold you have to kill - it's no quarter given!

Revelry, addled frenzy, no fear o' hangin' dead
Your heart lives on dreams of sea, your hands are bloody red
For a lass, or an affront, we'll fight another day
We only dream of the hunt, for it's no prey means no pay!

Hurrah the girls hurrah the fair we moor in the Caribees
We're gonna drink up to forget great carnage of the seas.
And in my final battle fought my arm got cut right off
After one thousand coins were swiped from a stinkin' bourgeois toff!
Track Name: Great Open Sea
*Capo 2nd fret

Em D
Lost patience for dry land
Em D
And this slow and powerless fate
Em D
Is this life guided by my hands?
Em D
Or the man, his coin and the state?

And there’s some solace in sweethearts
And in beer drunk among friends

But the gloom grows in the daylight
As we sell our souls to the scum
There’s a glory just beyond our sight
It’s been passed from father to son

So we’ll set our sails tomorrow
and tonight we’ll drink merrily
With the wind there’s a way to find freedom
on the waves of the great open sea…

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