Petty Harbour Bait Skiff
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Petty Harbour Bait Skiff

Petty Harbour Bait Skiff
(John Grace)

Good people all, both great and small, I hope you will attend,
And listen to these verses few that I have lately penned.
I'll relate the hardships great that fishermen must stand
While fighting for a livelihood on the coast of Newfoundland.

It happened to be in the summer time, in the lovely month of June,
When fields were green, fair to be seen, and valleys were in bloom.
When silent fountains do run clear, caressed by Heaven's rain,
And the dewy showers that fall at night to fertilize the plane.

We bid adieu unto our friends, and those we hold most dear,
Being bound from Petty Harbour, in the springtime of the year.
The little birds, as we sailed on, sung o'er the hills and dales,
Whilst Flora from her sportive groves, sent forth her pleasant gales.

On Saturday we sailed away, being in the evening late,
Bound into Conception Bay all for a load of bait.
The sea-gulls flying in the air, and pitching on the shore;
But little we thought 'twould be our lot to see our friends no more.

The weather being fine we lost no time, until we were homeward bound;
The whales were sporting in the deep, and the sword-fish swimming 'round;
And Luna bright, shone forth that night to illuminate the "say",
And the stars shone bright, to guide us right upon our rude pathway.

We shook our reefs and trimmed our sails, across the bay did stand;
The sun did rise, all circleized, like streamers o'er the land.
The clouds lay in the atmosphere, for our destruction met.
Boreas blew a heavy squall, our boat was overset.

When we came to the "Nor'ad" head, a rainbow did appear,
There was every indication that a storm was drawing near,
Old Neptune riding on the ways, to windward of us lay,
You'd think the ocean was on fire in Petty Harbour Bay.

John French was our commander, Mick Sullivan second-hand,
And all the rest were brave young men reared up in Newfoundland.
Six brave youths, to tell the truth, were buried in the sea,
But the Lord preserved young Menshon's life for to live a longer day.

Your heart would ache, all for their sake, if you were standing by,
To see them drowning, one by one, and no relief being nigh;
Struggling with the boisterous waves, all in their youth and bloom,
But at last they sank, to rise no more, all on the eight of June.

Jacob Chafe, that hero brave, and champion on that day,
They boldly launched their boat with speed, and quickly put to sea.
They saved young Menshon from the wreck by their united skill;
Their efforts would be all in vain but for kind Heaven's will.

Out of that fine young crew, you know, there was one escaped being drowned.
He was brought to Petty Harbour where good comforts there he found.
He is now on shore, and safe once more, with no cause to complain.
He fought old Neptune up and down whilst on the stormy main .

When the sad news arrived next day in dear old St. John's town,
There was crying and lamenting on the s
Their mothers were lamenting, crying for those they bore.
On the boisterous waves they found their graves where they ne'er shall see more.

Now to conclude and finish these few lines I write in pain:
Never depend out of your strength whilst sailing on the main.
But put your trust in Providence, observe the Lord's command,
And He'll guard you right, both day and night, upon the sea and land.

From the singing of the Kenny Family from Kitchuses, NFLD

Published for free distribution in 1955 by Gerald S. Doyle in Old-Time
Songs of Newfoundland, third edition.
Also published in Favorite Songs of Newfoundland as selected
by Alan Mills from the collection of Gerald S. Doyle. Copyright

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About 'Petty Harbour Bait Skiff'

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