Sea Song of the Landlubber

SEA SONG OF THE LANDLUBBER.

If you really want a song of the sea,
Let no sailor that song sing,
But some lubbery clown from an inland town,
His song will have the ring.

There never was a man who went to sea,
Abaft the mast or before,
Who could sing you a rollicking song of the sea
With a man who stays on shore.

Then pass the steaming punch around
When the nights grow merry and long;
When the black tides swirl at the harbor’s mouth
We’ll raise the lubbersong.

Oh, the starboard watch was well wound up,
Likewise the port watch too,
When the binnacle fell from the mizzentop
And the chaplain piped to the crow.

‘Twas a close hauled reach to nearest beach,
And the spanker floated free,
As we stood by our guns of some thousand tons
With a gale upon our lee.

Then blow, ye breezes, blow,
And the guns they go bang! bang!
A sailor’s joy is the harbor buoy;
Hurrah for Li Hung Chang!

Our capstan sail was hoisted up,
The garboard strake gave room,
And we sailed away from New York bay
By the light of the spinnaker boom.

The captain found the anchor a-trip
In the salt of the sparkling brine,
And the ho’sun said that the anchor tripped
When the good ship crossed the line.

Then brail away on the topsail sheet,
Belay on keep downhaul;
It’s our cowsprit yard that is safe and hard,
And we’ll reef in the sounding pawl.

— New York Press.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Nov 12, 1896

The Whistling Buoy.

The accompanying little illustration shows a device which, had it been in position on the Manacles, would have saved the Paris and the Mohegan from running ashore on that dangerous bit of English coast. This machine is what is known as the whistling buoy. It is capable of giving out a much more effective signal than the old-fashioned bell buoy, which is has just replaced off the Manacles. This new buoy works automatically, and every short while emits a most doleful but far-reaching whistling scream.

Daily Iowa State Press (Iowa City, Iowa) Sep 22, 1899

BOXING THE COMPASS.

The Test Between a Sailor and a Landlubber.

Boys who live in seaport towns are sometimes asked to “box the compass.” If they can do it quickly and accurately, they are fine sailors and may grow up to be the captain of a four master. If they miss a point or can only do it slowly, they are landlubbers and will never see blue water.

To box the compass means to name all the points in order just as fast as you can speak. This is the way an old down east skipper will rattle it off:

North, nor’ by east, nor’-nor’east, nor’ east by north, northeast, nor’east by east, east-nor’east, east by north, east, east by south, east-sou’east, sou’east by east, sou’east, sou’east by south, sou’-sou’east, sou’ by east, south, sou’ by west, sou’-sou’west, sou’west by south, sou’west, sou’west by west, west-sou’west, west by south, west, west by north, west-nor’west,, nor’west by west, nor’west, nor’west by north, nor’-nor’west, nor’ by west, north.

Can you do it?

If a needle is drawn a few times over the ends of a horseshoe magnet, it becomes magnetized. Push such a magnetized needle throng a small cork. Place the cork in a bowl of water, taking pains to see that the cork when it floats on the water will carry the needle in a horizontal position or “on an even keel.”

Another way is to cut about three inches from a hollow straw (such as is used to suck lemonade) and to push the needle inside the straw. The straw will float and carry the needle.

Now observe what happens. The floating needle will slowly swing round till it points north and south. The straw will behave in the same way. Push it in any other direction, and the moment it is free it swings back again.

We do not know who first observed the fact that a floating magnetized needle will point to the north. Nor do we know precisely when or where some unknown inventor used this idea to make a compass. All we know is that the Chinese made and used compasses more than 2,000 years ago.

When men began, perhaps 10,000 years ago, to sail upon the water, they used marks upon the shore to guide them on their way. Long years after they observed that a certain star kept at all times the same place in the sky, and they used this pole star as a guide in steering their ships. Today a steamship starting down the Hudson river for Europe is guided by the pilot, and he uses the buoys, beacons and other guide marks to steer the ship down the bay. Off Sandy Hook he gives up the ship to the captain, who instructs the helmsman to steer northeast by east, east by north or whatever course he selects, and the helmsman, watching the compass, keeps the ship headed in that direction.

— Dallas News.

Adams County Free Press (Corning, Iowa) Dec 10, 1902

Another Tradition of Seas Gone.

One of the latest inventions to improve the efficiency of travel at sea is the invention of an automatic ship-steering device which is said to be more accurate in holding a vessel to its course than the best helmsman who ever manned the wheel. The contrivance, known already in the parlance of the briny as “Metal Mike,” not only releases the helmsman for other services, but checks the weaving of a ship to either side of a predetermined course and thus permits a saving of time and fuel. Tests have been made on several ships and the apparatus has proved highly satisfactory.

“Metal Mike” is said to resemble a street care motorman’s box rigged alongside the ship’s steering wheel and attached to its hub by a chain operated by an electric motor. The motor in turn is connected with a gyroscopic compass in such a way that any variation registered by the compass is immediately transmitted to the steering device which automatically turns the wheel so as to keep the ship on its course. The advantage lies in the fact that the time required for a variation in the course to be transmitted electrically to the rudder is almost infinitesimal compared to that needed by a human helmsman to perform the same operation.

Science has thus robbed the sea of one of its cherished traditions. The landlubber’s conception of the helmsman at the wheel is that of a bearded, wrinkled, weather-beaten veteran of many storms, defying the pelting rain and wind as he peers through the inky blackness. That day, of course, has long passed on the larger sea-going vessel and the modern helmsman is comfortably ensconced in the glass-inclosed room. Now “Metal Mike” comes along to supplant the human touch altogether after the vessel has reached the high seas and is speeding along under favorable weather conditions. Once the ship’s course has been determined, “Metal Mike” takes charge, and until relieved of the task will hold the vessel straight across the pathless deep. Rather a far cry from the days of the “Flying Dutchman” or the hardy adventurers who were guided by the North Star.

The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana) Nov 10, 1922

Learn the Lingo:

Title: The Sailor’s Word-Book
(An alphabetical digest of nautical terms, including some more especially military and scientific, but useful to seamen; as well as archaisms of early voyagers, etc.)
Author: Admiral William Henry Smyth
Editor: Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Belcher
Publisher: Blackie and Son, 1867 (google book link)

Or:

Title: The Sailor’s Sea-Book
(Volume 55 of Weale’s rudimentary series)
Author: James Greenwood
Editor:William Henry Rosser
Published    1879
Dictionary of Sea TermsPage 163

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