I went in a bay last winter, I’m going to explain
To join an American vessel, the Old Smite was her name
With her anchors weighed and her sails set all ready for to go
With a load of frozen herring she looked beautiful, you know.
We went into St. Peter’s, all waiting for a time
Where the wind veered out to the east noreast and blowing there you’ll find
Where the wind chopped round, to the west norwest and it blowed a violent gale
Our Captain he give orders all for to shorten sail.
We tried her under double reefs but nothing would she do
And under two reef for’sail we hove the Old Smite too
And under two reef for’sail the Old Smite she did lie
There’s chances on the ocean we’ll either live or die.
The first watch of the Old Smite was ten o’clock that night
When a watchman on the lookout said, “Sir, I see a light!”
Our skipper he went down below get ready to turn in
He came on deck and ordered us to bring her to the wind.
Our Captain he went down below took out his sheet of charts
Oh, by my good reckoning we’re many miles from shore
It must have been a steamer’s light our watchman he saw there
We’ll rest her for another watch and we’ll swing her off again.
We had not long been on that watch as we were sailing by
When a watchman on the lookout sang breakers oh so high
When he saw we could not clear them, so every man stood by
It was on those raging breakers we ran her high and dry.
So now we’re on those breakers I’ll tell you things look blue
To see the men like monkeys up in her riggin’s flew
Where some went in her after riggin’ and some more went up for’ard
All trying to save their precious lives on the mercy of the Lord.
Source: MUNFLA 69-34. Typewritten transcription of C554. Collected by Jesse Fudge from Robert Childs,
age 48, at Ramea, on Dec 22, 1968.