The Old Red Duster

Written by John Archbold who was a member of the Toronto Morris Men singing round the campfire at the Martitme Festival at Penetanguishene a few (now more than a few!) years back. The song is based mostly on his father’s experiences at sea.

  1. Now it’s many’s the day since I first sailed away
    With my new cap and jacket so clean
    No bacon and eggs ’til I got my sea legs
    ‘Twas my first trip, O Lord I was green.
    Oh that Old Red Duster on a tramp or a liner
    There’ll be no ‘Pussar Navy’ for me
    You can keep your salutes and your spit polished boots,
    It’s the Old Red Duster for me.
  2. Now in many’s the ship I’ve made many’s the trip
    ‘Cross oceans and seas calm and wild
    And in ports near and far I’ve been flung from the bar
    And it’s many’s the young girl beguiled.
  3. I was pulled from the pool, I was nobody’s fool
    ‘Twas the jaunt up to Murmansk for me.
    But The Union said, No, as a fourth he can’t go’
    It’s The Union forever for me.
  4. Now you know this old tramp’s got a foc’sle that’s damp
    Her plates are half sprung and they leak
    The food’s always bad and the skipper’s gone mad
    And those bastards the owners are cheap.
  5. Well I’ve sweated and slaved at that engine I’ve raved
    Nursing this cripple along
    Her glands they’re a-weeping and her pumps they’re a creakin’
    And at six knots she’s racing along.
  6. I’ve been down in the hole in the dust and the coal
    All day and all night as well.
    And when my end’s near I’ll go without fear
    For I know it’s been hotter than Hell!
  7. So now you all know why the true sailors go
    Merchant seamen to be
    And if you want any more like what’s come before
    You can bloody well sing it to me.
Lyrics from the recording: