Judy Cook, Folksinger

Ghostly Crew

Author: trad

Source: From several sources, especially the version in Creighton(Helen Creighton, ""Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, Dover Publications, New York, NY, 1966) sung by Gordon Young, Devil's Island, Nova Scotia; and the one in Peacock(Kenneth Peacock, ""Songs of the Newfoundland Outposts, National Museum of Canada, Ottawa, Canada, 1965) sung by Alan MacArthur, Upper Ferry, Newfoundland. I have changed "Just wait 'til I am done." to "I thought my time had come."

Notes: From David Jones 2/2021: This is roughly what I remember from Peter Marston. A vessel, named The Charles Haskell, was built in Essex, Mass. in the 1850s. She was a large boat, and it was said that she would need a “Full Moon Tide,” to get her down The Essex river. On the night before her official launching, a workman, while taking a final look around, tripped and fell down the hatchway, and was killed. The Haskell immediately got the reputation of being a “jinxed boat,” and it was hard to find a crew for her. A crew was eventually found, and on the Haskell’s first voyage, she, along with the rest of the fishing fleet, were threatened by a mighty storm off of Georges Bank. The fleet was at anchor. During these storms it was not uncommon for a boat to break loose from its anchor, and for it to go careening through the fleet. Each boat would have a man, with an AX, on watch, ready to cut the lines to free his boat should a loose boat be about to hit it. The Haskell broke free of its lines, and the storm sent it flying through the fleet, and it hit a schooner, named Johnston, practically cutting it in two. That boat immediately sank, and its crew was drowned. There were a number of fishing boats that were sunk that night, and many fishermen drowned. All of the boats, except one, that were lost, were from Gloucester, the other boat was from Salem, which is south of Gloucester. When the Ghostly crew climbed out of the sea and took their stations, no one knew where they were from, but as the boat approached Eastern Point off of Gloucester, the crew got off the boat and headed south, towards Salem. That is how they knew the crew was from the lone Salem boat that was sunk in the storm. Check Bill Doerflingers book, he has some notes on this song. Also check Gordon Boks notes, he has recorded the song. I do sing the song, but with a different tune to yours. There is a Haskell street in Gloucester, named after, I think, the boatbuilder. David Coffin lives on that street. “Now you’ve heard my story, it is just as I say, I do believe in spirits, until this very day.’ David. Quotes from " In Great Waters":Thus far this season there have been forty men lost who were engaged in the Georges fishers; of this list, quite a number are married and leave families, some of them in destitute circumstances?.In view of these losses, we earnestly hope that those engaged in the fishing business will take into consideration the entire abandonment of Georges winter fishing. It has been pursued at altogether too great a risk; and human life is worth altogether too much to be thus sacrificed. (?Cape Ann Advertiser, March 15, 1861? quoted in ?In Great Waters? p 105) The regular February appearance of large schools of codfish on Georges Bank, which is used by the fish for their spawning grounds, insures a large catch for the early fleet, and the temptation of big trips, and the consequent realization of good returns, cannot be resisted by men who have been lying idle and whose funds have run low, or to express it as they do, more emphatically, ?We haven?t a shot in the locker; the fish are there and we?re just going for ?em!? And who can blame them: It is their business.They know its excitements and its dangers?Georges may be their grave; but this thought does not deter them from going. (?Fishermen?s Own Book?, Gloucester, 1882. quoted in ?In Great Waters? p105)