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I first landed in Middlesborough, home of bonnie lasses who make fine wives, strong beer that leaves a hellva hangover, and a shipyard building Whale Chasing Ships.

Days spent in the dockyard checking the fitting out of the Whale Chasers being built, nights in the company of the ones closest to you — dancing, drinking, hopes and fears, and all hands ignoring the fast-approaching sailing date. Then some wit — full of wine and wisdom — states that, “The sooner ye go, the sooner ye come back!” The profundity of this statement boggles the mind until you realise that no matter where ye go, ye have tae take yerself!

Aye, There’s a snag to everything! HR


Lyrics and Music: Harry Robertson

Haul away on the For’ard, and cast off down Aft,
We’re sailing away on a spanking new craft,
Wi’ the fast-running tide o’ the swift River Tees
We’ll soon feel the chill o’ the Northern Sea breeze.

Farewell tae ye lassie, I’m sailin’ awa’
Far from yer arms tae the ice and the snow,
And Whaling Men sail wi’ regrets o’ their kind,
They often leave love, and heartache behind.

Four on and four off, are the watches we stand,

Four months among ice, wi’ no sight o’ land,
And ye eat standing up, and ye sleep if ye can,
And life becomes hell for the Whale Chasing Man.

Straight out o’ the channel wi’ its rain and its sleet
Down Africa’s west coast that shimmers wi’ heat,
Then further down south, more storms and gales
Are there in the path o’ the men who hunt whales.

The ice forms thick on the ship’s rigging strands
And covers the deck where the gunner-man stands,
As he calls for more speed when the whale tries to run
And the eyes of the crew watch the man at the gun.


And we chase and we kill, and we reap and we plunder,
Explosive harpoons, tear whale life asunder,
Our nerves are on edge, no kind words are spoken,
And even the minds, of some men are broken.

At last comes the call from the whale factory ship,
The season is over, we’re on the home trip;
Once more interest shines in the eyes o’ the men
At the thought o’ seeing their homeland again.


Hello tae ye lassie, although I did go,
Far from your arms tae the ice and the snow,
The regrets that I sailed wi’, are noo at an end,
Long months o’ lost love, I’m eager to spend.

Think not o’ the money the Whaling Man makes,
But think o’ the life and the hardship it takes,
The rainbow o’ thrills has gold at the end,
But it’s harder to earn, than it is for to spend.


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

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