"Of all national assets, archives are the most precious:
they are the gift of one generation to another,
and the extent of our care of them marks the
extent of our civilization." Arthur Doughty.

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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

04 January 2015


"A worksong used to aid labor at sea and sung for pleasure alongshore. (The name is probably derived from the Maine woodsmen's shanty or bunkhouse;  derival of chantey from the French chantez is "an educated blunder," according to Phillip Barry, authority on folksong.)"
Above text from Sea Language Comes Ashore. Joanna Carver Colcord; New York. Cornell Maritime Press, 1943.

"It is fairly certain that the seamen of the ancient world, those of the Middle Sea in particular, had chants of some kind that they would sing in order to keep in unison when rowing at the great sweeps of their biremes, triremes, pamphylians, penteconters and what not, but we have no printed record of them.
The first mention in literature of the sing-out appears in a manuscript of the time of Henry VI, in the year 1400, to be exact. 
(Source: The Early Naval Ballads of England, edited by J. O. Halliwell. The Percy Society, 1841.)

The earliest work giving actual shanty verses is the COMPLAYNT OF SCOTLAND OF 1549. Two anchor songs are given, one bowline shanty, and three hauling songs for hoisting the lower yard. The form and language of these early shanties, apart from the fact that the English is Chaucerian, are very much like what our sailors of the sail sang three hundred years later."
This text from the above book by Hugill, Stan. London; Herbert Jenkins Publisher, 1969.

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