Stormy Weather



Bob Roberts collected this many years ago from men working the spritsail barges of the East Coast of England (often called Thames Barges). This is a compilation of three versions which he strung together to make a 'travelog' of a voyage from London to Greater Yarmouth, Published in Roy Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs.


Gordon: 12-string guitar;  The January Men


We were laying in Surry Dock* one day

            (*at Ruthorhide, England)

And the mate knew it was time to get underway

     And it's stormy weather, boys, stormy weather, boys

     When the wind blows, the barge will go.

He's homeward bound but he's out of luck

'Cause the skipper's half drunk in The Dog and Duck.*  (*a pub)

     Well the skipper comes aboard with a girl on hi arm

     He's going to give up barging and take on a farm

So the mate ran forward and the cook fell in the dock

And the skipper's caught his knackers in the mainsheet block.

     So the mate's at the wheel but he's gybed her twice

     'Cause the skipper's got his knackers in a bowl of ice

At last we're off down the Lime House Reach

When our leeboard knocked on the Greenwich Beach

     The barge went ashore and scared our whore

     And she says "Chuck this, I'm off ashore!"

We shoved her off and away we did go

But the skipper's got a bottle of beer below

     She fills away with a roar and a crack

     But there ain't no bargemen up on the deck

There's a crash and a bump and we're ashore

And the mate says "Christ, we're on the Noire"*

            (*shoal off mouth of Thames)

     Then up comes a mermaid covered in mud

     The skipper says I think we're off the Whittaker Spit"*

            (*sandbank off the Essex coast)

Then up comes another one covered in slime

So we took her down the fo'c'sle and had a good time

     On the top of the tide the barge did fleet*

            (*old word for sail)

     When the mate sees a ghost on the topsail sheet

So away we go and the ghost did steer

And the cook drank the dregs of the Old Man's beer

     We layed close-hauled off Orford Ness*

            (*East coast headland)

     When the wind backed round to the South-southwest

We reached our port all safe and sound

And tied her up in Yarmouth Town

     So after all our fears and alarms

     We all ended up in The Druid's Arms.*  (*a pub)



Stormy Weather is recorded on the album Gatherings