Hear a variant of this song performed by Corner Brook’s Allison Crowe (thanks for the reference to this site, Allison!):
or by Pouch Cove native Patrick Moran:
Anita Best has also recorded this song on her album, Crosshanded (1997).
Tags: 1875 Water Witch
Come all ye true-born fishermen and listen to my song
I hope you pay attention and I won’t delay long
Concerning of those Pouch Cove men, those fishermen so brave
Who saved the crew of the Water Witch so near a watery grave.
On Christmas Eve this craft did leave and loud the wind did roar
Twas on a reef she came to grief not far from Pouch Cove shore;
In a place they called the Horrid Gulch this schooner headed on,
And in the twinkling of an eye three poor, dear souls were gone.
Three seamen from the Water Witch lept when they heard the shock,
The rest belong to that doomed craft were hurdled up on a rock;
To wait there hours in storms and showers and loud the sea did dash,
They see their schooner beaten up, all on the rocks did smash.
The Pouch Cove fishermen to a man came out that cruel night
For those who gazed on those poor souls, it was a doleful sight
And for to make the scene much worse, poor females numbed with cold
Stood waiting there to be relieved by those brave heroes bold.
Punts, ropes and lanterns soon were brought by kind and willing hands,
The shrieks of females in distress, those fishermen could not stand;
And for to face that Horrid Gulch, six hundred feet did go
To save those souls half dead with cold who waited down below.
Brave Alfred Moore, a Pouch Cove man, “I’ll take the lead,” he cried,
And around his waist strong hempen rope in double knots was tied;
And strong men waited on the top to lower him o’er the cliff,
To dash our hero down below in blinding snow and drift.
Three times they swung him in the dark in blinding drift and snow,
Before his foot could find a place to give him any hold;
At length he found a resting place close to a sheltered stone,
Where he could see those souls below and hear their dismal moan.
Oh! now to save this shipwrecked crew their hearts were filled with hope
Six more brave Pouch Cove fishermen like heroes man the rope;
And now some small hand-lines like Moore’s, they managed for to lower,
Till all the Water Witch’s crew were landed safe on shore.
Oh hark! another scream is heard, the people got a shock,
Another female left below to perish on the rock;
Brave Alfred made another dash, and loud the wind did roar,
He took this woman in his arms in safety to shore.
The news was soon in town next day about the Water Witch
The whole community was surprised, the poor as well as rich;
The Governor, he wrote home these words in letters bold and grand
To tell the pluck of those fishermen belong to Newfoundland.
And the Humane Society of Liverpool they very soon sent here
Gold medals to those fishermen who never knew no fear;
The Governor’s Lady pinned them on, those medals rare and rich,
On the Pouch Cove boys who saved the lives aboard the Water Witch.
So here’s success to those brave boys who risked in storm and breeze
Their precious lives to save those souls who ventured on the seas;
May peace and plenty be their lot, that gay and gallant man,
Brave Alfred Moore and all the rest belong to Newfoundland.
Transcribed by Heather Sparling from the singing of Anita Best on Crosshanded.