When I was footloose and fancy free
I had an urge to go to sea.
But in truth a ship I could not find
I had read about the Golden Hind.
The only ship that lay at anchor
The owner a local merchant banker.
She was the good ship Walrus
Just as well you did not see us
A motley crew that was quite true
But our hearts were keen and our fears were few.
Some press-ganged from too much ale
Consigned for now to help her sail,
And follow on the breeze
Bound to the west and open seas.
First our heading north through the Irish Sea and past the Mull of Kintyre.
Through lightning and heavy rain I saw St. Elmo’s fire.
A good omen I was told, to see a ship aglow
Old sailors taking in the storm as just another show.
Captain Yarman spoke to us next day
To explain how we would earn our pay.
You work in watches by the bell.
What that meant was hard to tell.
Then spoke the Bo ‘sun a sullen fellow
But beneath his gruff he seemed quite mellow.
Stay sober, be on time and that was it.
Oh! Be clean and always stow your kit.
Leave nothing loose below these decks
The surest way to break your necks
When the seas run high you mark my word
Never tell me you never heard.
That night was ever northward
Towards the midnight sun
And then as the dawn was breaking
We steered for our westward run.
Bound for the Cayman Islands and Montego Bay
Rum at Aunt Jema’ah’s place,
And while the ship was lading a little time to stray.
Those were good days, sailing on the tide.
But some years later my heart was claimed
For now I had a bride.
Her blood ran hot with cayenne spice
And I a land lubber in a trice.
Set now to growing vegetables
And digging in my plot
No longer footloose nor fancy free
Only to dream of days at sea.
The nights when in my hammock swung
Rolling with the waves
And in between the swells I thought
What have I learned in life, what lessons has it taught?
A list counted in my mind.
The most important I could find:
Never forget your passion.
Live life clean and tidy.
Ship shape and Bristol fashion.