The Bob Zentz Songbook



Ice (The Bosun’s Tale)

From Closehauled on the Wind of a Dream

Adapted from the poetry of C. Fox Smith (1882-1954)

Music traditional;  additional lyrics © 2003, 2007 Bob Zentz



1.  “Ice,” said the bosun, sniffing like a dog  (G-Em-D7-G)

Across the rail to wind’ard, in the Cape Horn fog  (C-G-C-D-G)

“Ice,” said the bosun, “wot sunk the Skerryvore  (G-C-G)

The time I sailed on board her, back in ‘seventy-four  (G-Em-D7-G)


2.  “Now, the ol’ man was a looney, the worst I ever knew

He cracked it on to blazes when it was thick as stew

He bunged through it blindfolded, fourteen knots we ran

Till he fouled a ‘berg bigger than the blinkin’ Calf o’ Man


3.  “We run our bows on it in the middle of the night

An’ a fallin’ spar killed him, an’ damn well served him right!

We took to the longboat, it was jump or drown

She’d hardly touched the water when our ol’ ship went down


4.  “We made land at daylight, ice an’ sand an’ stones

Seabirds a-wailin’, an’ wind that chilled your bones

An’ for two blessed months there, we lived like fightin’ cocks

On the winkles an’ the seaweed we gathered off the rocks


5.  “Till a spouter chanced to sight us, cruisin’ round that way

Or else we’d be stiff ‘uns, a-lyin’ there today

An’ ice,” said the bosun, sniffing once again

“Is a thing I’ve had no use for, an’ never will, since then”


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