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 out
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 want,
my boys, you must get it how you can.

Some of us took oil-clothes
and one of us took a watch,
He had it for to see the time,
while he was at the watch;
We enjoyed ourselves there very well,
with laughter and with smile,
When Thomas White he went on deck,
saying, "B'ys here 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 & 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 everything 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
that our rudder was split in two,
It was Walter Pilkey found it out,
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 longest of all,
And if you want a berth to the ice,
please give Mr Ashbourne a call.

####.... The 29-man crew of the Lone Flier while sailing March 10 to April 25, 1929 ....####
Collected from Herbert A Watkins [1897-?] and Jack Sharp of Twillingate, and published as #123 in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968).

Mansfield noted: Herbert Watkins said they all started to make up this song at the beginning of their voyage, and someone added a line or two, or even a verse, whenever anything happened, so that the song is a sort of log of the cruise. When they got back to Twillingate, they put it in the newspaper, the Twillingate Sun, signing it, "A Young Timer" and omitting as too personal the lines about "donkeying" the man. They did not compose the tune, but chose the tune used for "The Lumber Camp Song".
The Lone Flier was a motor-auxiliary schooner, owned by the Ashbournes, great merchants of Twillingate. She was used for transporting trade-goods, sealing in the spring, and at other times when stocked with goods and fitted with shelves and counter like a floating department store, she was used for trading up and down the East Coast.

Also published in Gerald S Doyle's Old-Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland: Songs Of The People From The Days Of Our Forefathers (2nd Ed, pp.14-15, 1940, as contributed in 1929 by Herbert Watkins and Jack Sharp of Twillingate).

Excerpted from History Of VOWR - At the suggestion of a local newspaper, radio receiving sets were provided to sealing ships in 1927, through the generosity of the public. Ship's crews appreciated the church services broadcast while they were at sea. Captain Solomon White of the vessel Lone Flier wrote of receiving the signal and listening to a church service 165 miles out to sea from St John's during the seal hunt of 1929: "All hands would be back in the cabin of the vessel waiting to hear the first note of the organ. I don't think we lost one service or concert".

From Explore Newfoundland:
Seldom - Little Seldom - town on Seldom Cove centrally located on the southern shore of Fogo Island. The town takes its name from its early origins of Seldom-Come-By, a name given to the harbour because vessels travelling the East Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador would seldom come by without stopping, especially in stormy seas when they would weather the storm in the sheltered, deep harbour. Seldom was established in 1700 and Little Seldom in 1857. Seldom is well known for the Burnt Point Lighthouse which was built in 1905 and operated manually until 1992 when it was replaced by an automated system.

From Wikipedia:
Twillingate - town located on the Twillingate Islands in Notre Dame Bay off the northeastern shore of the island of Newfoundland. The town is about 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of Lewisporte and Gander, and is found at the mouth of the Exploits River where it flows into Notre Dame Bay. The islands provide an excellent sheltered harbour and easy access to the rich fishing grounds nearby.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Cat - newly-born seal; pup; white-coat.
Crop - in sealing and fishing, the personal equipment or supplies issued against the profits of the 'voyage'.
Donkeyed - defeated (an opponent, etc.); manhandled another in rough play.
Fat - ³ seals; the seal herds.
Pan - ² piece of flat ice, varying in size and shape but roughly circular.
Rams - stout timbers fastened under the bow-sprit of a sealing vessel to support men pushing ice-pans to clear a passage for the ship.
Rodneys - small round-bottomed boats with square sterns, used chiefly as tenders; small 'punts'.
Swatch - ¹ expanse of open water in an ice-field; ² area of open water frequented by seals; bobbing-hole.
White-Coats - young harp seals, with white fur soon shed, hunted for their blubber.


Index Page
GEST Songs Of
Newfoundland And Labrador

(AD 1628 through 2020)


~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Pro-Sitemaps details created:
1 January 2022, 12:53
Processing time: 0:25:28s
Pages indexed: 4030
Images sitemap: 198
Video sitemap: 2774
Broken Links - None

Email the Webmaster: gdgest@yahoo.ca