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    Re: The shipwreck of Admiral Shovell
    From: Gary LaPook
    Date: 2007 Aug 30, 14:14 -0700

    I'm curious about when "Spanish Ladies" was composed too. There are
    other differences in the songs (not surprisingly with ships crews
    singing them from memory) and the version I know has the line "let
    tacks and sheets fly" which makes sense for a ship coming to anchor
    when the crew would be hauling up on the clew garnets.  (Thanks for
    the whole song.)
    
    gl
    
    On Aug 30, 1:31 pm, "George Huxtable" 
    wrote:
    > Gary LaPook wrote  about the old song which states "Twixt Ushant and Scilly
    > is thirtyfive leagues", to which he added-"we hove our ships to for to
    > strike soundings fair, in forty five fathoms with a white sandy bottom, we
    > squared our main yard and up channel we flew."
    >
    >  he added later-
    >
    > | I was also attracted by the line "with a white sandy bottom" which I
    > | knew was referring to the bottom sample brought up stuck to the "arming"
    > | of the dipsea lead. I took it from this song that it was common
    > | knowledge, for a long time, that "a white sandy bottom" was good news,
    > | indicating that the ship was near the center of the channel, far from
    > | dangers on either side. Do you know if this is a correct interpretation
    > | and if the character of the bottom was known in 1707 to the extent that
    > | Shovel could have known, from the stuff brought up on the lead, that he
    > | was too close to the Scillies?
    >
    > =======================
    >
    > To be honest, that line about 35 leagues was all I knew of the song. But my
    > wife Joan is made of sterner stuff, and when I mentioned it, she went
    > straight to the shelf with Stan Hugills's nice book, "Shanties from the
    > Seven Seas" (1984 edition), and found "Spanish Ladies". Stan was himself a
    > shantyman under sail, in one of the limejuice Cape Horners. So what can I do
    > now, but quote you the whole thing?
    >
    > Spanish Ladies.
    >
    > Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies,
    > Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain,
    > For we've received orders to sail for old England
    > An' hope very shortly to see you again.
    >
    > Chorus, repeated after each verse-
    >
    > We'll rant an' we'll roar, like true British sailors,
    > We'll rant an' we'll roar, across the salt seas,
    > Till we strike soundings in the Channel of Old England,
    > From Ushant to Scilly is thirty-four leagues.
    >
    > We hove our ship to, with the wind at sou'west, boys,
    > We hove our ship to for to take soundings clear,
    > In fifty-five fathoms with a fine sandy bottom,
    > We filled our maintops'l, up Channel did steer.
    >
    > The first land we made was a point called the Deadman,
    > Next Ramshead off Plymouth, Start, Portland and Wight.
    > We sailed then by Beachie, by Fairlee and Dungeyness,
    > Then bore straight away for the South Foreland Light.
    >
    > Now the signal was made for the Grand Fleet to anchor,
    > We clew'd up our tops'ls, stuck out tacks and sheets
    > We stood by our stoppers, we brailed in our spankers
    > And anchored ahead of the noblest of fleets.
    >
    > Let every man here drink up his full bumper,
    > Let every man here drink up his full bowl,
    > And let us be jolly and drown melancholy,
    > Drink a health to each jovial an' true-hearted soul.
    >
    > ================
    >
    > Hugill mentions a number of alternative wordings, including 35 leagues (and
    > even 45 leagues!) for the distance Ushant-Scilly. On a modern chart, I make
    > it 99 nautical miles, or 33 leagues. There are various alternatives in that
    > list of Channel headlands, all of which will be familiar to the small-boat
    > cruising sailor of today.
    >
    > The depth he gives for the sounding, 55 fathoms, differs quite a lot from
    > the 45 figure that Gary quoted. Hugill also mentions a 45-fathom version of
    > the song. 55 would correspond, roughly, to a line between Ushant and Scilly,
    > whereas the 45 fathom figure would correspond better to a line between, say,
    > Lizard and Roscoff, on the North Brittany coast.
    >
    > Perhaps, then, in view of those divergences, there should be a disclaimer
    > attached, saying- "The words of this song should not be used for the
    > purposes of navigation."
    >
    > What's particular interesting to me, though, is just how technically
    > detailed the words are. It reads almost like a pilot-book.
    >
    > The only phrase that seems doubtful to me is "stuck out tacks and sheets".
    > The tacks and sheets are the lines that lead from the lower corners (clews)
    > of the courses, tacks leading forward, and sheets aft. I wonder whether
    > those words should be "struck down", to describe those lines being taken
    > down at the end of the voyage.
    >
    > Hugill also tells us of a Bluenose version, sung by Nova Scotians.
    >
    > Gary asked about the phrase "white sandy bottom", which Hugill quotes as
    > "fine sandy bottom", and asks if this "was good news, indicating that the
    > ship was near the center of the channel, far from dangers on either side.
    >
    > I really couldn't say. That phrase doesn't appear on the Mount & Page chart
    > of 1702. From the context, clearly that was indeed taken to be good news. It
    > might have indicated a mid-channel location, as Gary suggests, or perhaps it
    > indicated simply that the vessel had got East of the dangerous Ushant-Scilly
    > gap. I doubt if reading the lead, in that way, was anything of an exact
    > science.
    >
    > I wonder what the date of "Spanish Ladies" was? We might get a clue from the
    > date that the South Foreland became lit.
    >
    > George.
    >
    > contact George Huxtable at geo...---.u-net.com
    > or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    > or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    
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