> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Off to Sea Once More

Off to Sea Once More

[ Roud 644 ; Laws D7 ; Ballad Index LD07 ; trad.]

Off to Sea Once More is a forebitter about the hardships of a sailor' life. He loses his money to whores and boarding-house masters and has to return to sea, in this case to the 1850s Bering sea bowhead whale fishing.

A.L. Lloyd sang Off to Sea Once More in 1956 on his, Ewan MacColl and Harry H. Corbett's album The Singing Sailor. This track has been reissued on their albums Shanties and Fo'c'sle Songs (Wattle Records) and Off to Sea Once More (Stinson Records).

Ewan MacColl sang Off to Sea Once More at about the same time on the Riverside LP Thar She Blows!. In 1962 he sang a short verse from it on the Folkways album Whaler Out of New Bedford.

A.L. Lloyd recorded it again in 1967 for the album Leviathan! Ballads and Songs of the Whaling Trade. Here, he was accompanied by Alf Edwards on English concertina and by Trevor Lucas and Martyn Wyndham-Read singing chorus. This track was also included in 1984 on the French compilation Chants de Marins IV: Ballads, Complaintes et Shanties des Matelots Anglais. Lloyd commented in the Leviathan! sleeve notes:

Estimable Stan Hugill said this song in “known to every seaman”. Well, to a good few, anyway. Who was Rapper Brown, the villain of the piece? Particularly during the latter days of sail, many lodging house keepers encouraged seamen to fall in debt to them, then signed them aboard a hardcase ship in return for the “advance note” loaned by the company to the sailor ostensibly to buy gear for the voyage. Paddy West of Great Howard Street, Liverpool, was well-known for this, likewise John da Costa of the same seaport. But we do not find Rapper Brown in this rogues' gallery. Perhaps there's some confusion here with the fearsome Shanghai Brown of San Francisco, through whose ministrations many a British seaman awoke from a drunken or drugged sleep do find himself aboard a vessel for the bowhead whaling grounds of the Bering Sea, a trip few men in their senses signed for, unless desperately hard pushed. Our version is from Ted Howard of Barry.

Louis Killen Off to Sea Once More in 1970 on his South Street Seaport Museum album 50 South to 50 South. He commented in the album's liner notes:

Whaling boats, like many of the transatlantic packet ships, had reputations of being “blood-boats”, with bad food and pay, worse conditions, and hard masters who maintained authority with the hard end of a belaying pin. As a result, most of them were crewed by men in debt to (if not shanghaied by) boarding-house masters. This forebitter, with its advice to give up the sea—advice inevitably thwarted by pimps, whores, drunkenness, and boarding-house masters—was sometimes used as a pump or capstan chantey.

He also sang it in 1976 on the Collector anthology of songs and chanteys from the days of commercial sail, Steady As She Goes, where the sleeve notes laconically stated:

The most realistic of all songs about the conditions of seafarers under sail. This is what life was like both ashore and at sea.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings Off to Sea Once More on Leviathan!

When first I landed in Liverpool I went upon the spree.
While money lasts I spend it fast, got drunk as drunk could be.
But before my money was all gone on liquor and the whores,
I made up my mind that I was inclined to go to sea no more.

Chorus:
No more, no more! To go to sea no more.
I made up my mind that I was inclined to go to sea no more.

As I was walking down the street I met with Angeline.
She said: “Come home with me, my lad, and we'll have a cracking time.”
But when I awoke, it was no joke, I found I was all alone.
My silver watch and my money too, and my whole bloody gear was gone.

Chorus:
Was gone, was gone! My whole bloody gear was gone.
When I awoke, it was no joke for my whole bloody gear was gone.

As I was walking down the street I met big Rapper Brown.
I asked him if he would take me in, and he looked at me with a frown.
He said, “Last time you was paid off, with me you chalked up no score,
But I'll take your advance and I'll give youse a chance to go to sea once more.”.

Chorus:
Once more, once more! To go to sea once more.
I'll take your advance and I'll give youse a chance to go to sea once more.”

He shipped me on board of a whaling ship bound for the Arctic seas,
Where cold winds blow and there's frost and snow and Jamaica rum would freeze.
And worse to bear, I'd no hardweather gear, for I'd lost all my dunnage ashore.
It was then that I wished that I was dead so I'd go to sea no more.

Chorus:
No more, no more! I'd go to sea no more.
It was then that I wished that I was dead so I'd go to sea no more.

Sometimes we're catching whales, my lads, but mostly we get none,
With a twenty-foot oar in every paw from five o'clock in the morn.
And when daylight's gone and the night coming on, you rest upon your oar,
And oh boys, you wish that you was dead or snug with the girls ashore.

Chorus:
Ashore, ashore! Snug with the girls ashore.
Oh boys, you wish that you was dead or snug with the girls ashore.

Come all you bold seafaring lads that listen to my song.
When you go a-big-boating, I'll have you not go wrong.
You take my tip, when you come off a trip, don't go with any whore,
But get married instead and have all night in and go to sea no more.

Chorus:
No more, no more! Don't go to sea no more.
Get married, my lads, and have all night in and go to sea no more.

Louis Killen sings Off to Sea Once More on 50 South to 50 South

When first I landed in Liverpool I went upon the spree,
With money at last I spent it fast, I got drunk as drunk could be.
And it's when my money was all gone, it was then I wanted more,
But a man must be blind to make up his mind to go to sea once more.

Chorus:
Once more, once more, to go to sea once more,
But a man must be blind to make up his mind to go to sea once more.

I spent the night with Angeline, I was too drunk to roll in bed.
And my watch was new, my money, too, in the morning with them she'd fled,
And it's as I roamed the streets around them whores they all did roar,
“Why, there goes Jack Spratt, the poor sailor lad, he must go to sea once more.”

Chorus:
Once more, once more, he must go to sea once more,
Why, there goes Jack Spratt, the poor sailor lad, he must go to sea once more.

Well I went a-walking down London Road and I met with Rapper Brown.
I asked him if he'd take me in, but he looked at me with a frown.
He said, “Last time you was paid off, to me you chaulked no score,
But I'll give you a chance and I'll take your advance, and I'll send you to sea once more.”

Chorus:
Once more, once more, I'll send you to sea once more,
For I'll give you a chance and I'll take your advance, and I'll send you to sea once more.

He shipped me on board of a whalin' bark, it was bound for the Greenland seas
Where the cold winds blow through frost and snow, why, Jamaica rum would freeze.
And it's worse to bear I'd no hard-weather gear as I'd spent all my money ashore,
It was then that I wished that I was dead and could go to sea no more.

Chorus:
No more, no more, and could go to sea no more,
It was then that I wished that I was dead and could go to sea no more.

Sometimes we're catchin' whales, my boys, and sometimes we're catchin' none,
With a twenty-foot oar stuck in your hand from four o'clock in the morn.
And it's when the shades of night come on and you rest on your weary oar,
Well, 'twas then that I wished that I was dead and could go to sea no more.

Chorus:
No more, no more, and could go to sea no more,
It was then that I wished that I was dead or safe with the girls on shore.

So come all of you hard-weather sailing men who listen to my song,
Now it's when you come off of them long trips, I'd have you not go wrong;
Take my advice, drink no strong drink, don't go sleepin' with no whores,
But get married instead, and get all night in, and go to sea no more!

Chorus:
No more, no more, and go to sea no more,
But get married instead, and have all night in, and go to sea no more!

Acknowledgements

A.L. Lloyd's lyrics were copied from the Leviathan! sleeve notes.