SURVEYOR'S NOTEBOOK

Exxon Valdez? Enough Already.

By Rik van Hemmen

My sister, Annemarie, who, as an ex tall ship sailor, has good salty connections sent me the words to this famous chantey.

So here we go:

 

What’ll we do with a drunken sailor (3x)

Earl-aye in the morning?

Hooray and up she rises (3x)

Early-aye in the morning

Shave his belly with a rusty razor

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Put him in the long boat till he’s sober

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Put him in the scuppers with a hawse pipe on him.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Put him in bed with the captain’s daughter.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Beat him with a cat ‘til his back is bleedin’

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Put him in the bilge and make him drink it

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Truss him up with a runnin’ bowline.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Give ‘im a dose of salt and water.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Stick on ‘is back a mustard plaster.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Send him up the crow’s nest till he falls down,

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Tie him to the taffrail when she’s yardarm under,

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Soak ‘im in oil ‘til he sprouts a flipper.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Put him in the guard room ‘til he’s sober.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

Make him the skipper of an Exxon tanker.

Hoo-ray and up she rises

That’s what we do with a drunken Sailor,

Earl-aye in the morning

What? Make him the skipper of an Exxon Tanker?

This chantey is as old as the hills and undoubtedly has grown in the same way as the Marine Hymn, one verse at a time. This version seems to have a recent addition in the very last verse. We can date the verse, 1989, Exxon Valdez.

Hah, funny, in 1989, but for crying out loud, the stanza misses the whole issue. This verse is nothing but a snearing remark by a bunch of “back to the good old days” dreamers, who are happily blaming others from the deck of their traditional sailboat.

But what they really did is change the whole idea of the song; they changed a chantey that deals with inside sailor’s information to a political statement.

What they also miss is that sailing today is just as tough, but just different from when this chantey first showed up.

So why not add some more verses, but let’s keep it real. How about:

Make him drink some old tinbased antifouling.

Make him take another STCW class. (not sure that sings well)

Make him go get his TWIC card.

Make him clean a bunker fuel tank.

Make him deal with the port state control inspectors.

Make him look for some old growth timber.

See, not pathetically shallow; instead, subtle, complex like good wine and nautical lore.

I am taking more suggestions; I am sure there are plenty.

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