Evan Mathieson header


Lyrics and Music: Harry Robertson

We sing songs of sailing ships, in the bygone days of old,
And the men who sailed the oceans were rough and brave and bold,
But seamen often lost their lives and many of them did drown,
When their badly over-loaded craft, in a fatal plunge went down.

For years the seamen suffered, through over-loaded craft
'Til a shipping clerk called Plimsoll got the government to draft
That every ship should have a mark above the water line
And today we call that mark on ships, the Plimsoll Safety Line.

The Plimsoll Line is on them
It’s plain for all to see,
Plimsoll made it safe for men
To go on ships to sea.

But what of some ship owners who still ignore this law
And over-load their vessels 'til the cargoes overflow?
One ship that often did this, was dredging Queensland sand
From the bottom of our Moreton Bay, to pump it back on land.

The ‘Kaptajn Nielsen’ had no line
So nobody could see,
If it was on the funnel
Or beneath the rolling sea.

When crews upon the river craft saw the dredger laden low,
They were all of the opinion that the ship was bound to go,
One night the ship was laden, her decks they were awash,
When she suddenly turned over with a soul-destroying crash.

The seamen on the dredger were from another land
But a seaman is a seaman, no matter what their land,
The men were trapped inside their home that now became their tomb
And nine good Danish seamen, that night did meet their doom.

Nine men died on the ‘Nielsen’ dredge
These men would be alive,
If only Plimsoll’s Safety Mark
Had been recognised.

The story’s told of how one man swam ashore in Moreton Bay
And asked assistance for his mates who could not get away,
The River people rallied fast, and brought these men out soon
The brave man’s other shipmates in the floating ‘Nielsen’ tomb.

The Inquiry held in Brisbane town when the rescue work was done,
Did not establish why this dredge was overloaded down,
But seamen know ship owners, and their money hungry drive,
Put cargoes first and seamen last, so nine good men did die.

Nine men died on the ‘Nielsen’ dredge
These men would be alive,
If only Plimsoll’s Safety Mark
Had been recognised.

HISTORICAL NOTE: The Danish Dredger ‘M S Kaptajn Nielsen’ capsized in Moreton Bay on the 18th September 1964.

© Harry Robertson
and subsequently ©1995 Mrs Rita Robertson, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Registered with APRA/AMCOS www.apra-amcos.com.au