(Here is a wonderful ballad of commotion and courage at sea just now written by my son Jordan Blair)
Her mastheads gently sway
With seagulls her companions
In the fading light of day
And down below, in dim-lit bunks
Their courage now reborn
The men recount the terror
Of their voyage `round the Horn
How calm seas turned to chaos
And the day became like night
How each man's battle-hardened face
Had turned a ghostly white
How sails had torn like tissue
When the wind began to blow
And desperate prayers were offered up
From poor souls trapped below
But though their darkest hour had come
So far from friendly shore
The Captain's words were filled with hope
From those gone on before
"It's just a little wind my boys,
We've got a sturdy mast
We'll round the other side
Before the devil knows we've passed!"
"It's just a little rain my lads
We'll barrel through its path
And God knows all you scurvy dogs
Could use a bloody bath!"
"We've been through storms a thousand times
You men decide your fate
So reef the main-sail, steady's she goes
The Pearly Gates can wait!"
And just like that, their fear dissolved
Each man there knew his tasks
And ran to do his duty
For a captain never asks
Onward still into the waves
That threatened certain death
They pitched and rolled through salty spray
And fog like demon's breath
But then at last a cry was heard
That filled their hearts with joy
Young seaman Nelson's breathy voice
That warbled "Land Ahoy!"
And there from misty distant view
The shape began to form
Of jagged cliffs that tower'd above
The place they called 'The Horn'
They'd made it round, and none too soon
Their ship was badly maimed
But spirits high and hopes renewed
Their joyful hearts proclaimed
"Here! Here! For Queen and country
And for Lucky Captain Jack!
Here! Here! For HMS Surprise
She sailed through hell and back!"
So stories told, and memories made
Of fortune's bitter test
Each weary sailor slipped away
To steal a well-earned rest
And now the seas are calm again
A gently rolling foam
And oil lamps dim their dancing flame
To beckon dreams of Home.
- Dedicated to my Dad for his love of the sea and the epic tales by Patrick O'Brian of Jack Aubrey's voyages on the HMS Surprise.