Shanties and Work Effort


Shanties are work songs sailors used to coordinate the rhythm of the work effort. The illustration shows sailors turning a capstan ’round. Songs for the capstan could be “Bonnie Laddie, Hieland Laddie,” “Bound Down Trinidad” or the well-known song “Shenandoah.”

block and tackle

A block-and-tackle was used to increase the mechanical advantage of lifting heavy objects such as spars (yards) or cargo. Halyards were run through blocks-and-tackles and halyard shanties include “Haul Away, Joe,” “John Kanaka” and “Alabama John Cherokee.”

Haul the Bowline

Short haul shanties were used to lift boats, loads and cargo. There was usually one strong pull per line of song, such as “Little Sally Rackett HAUL ’em away….” or “Boney was a warrior, way-hey-YAH!”

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