“Let go that Jib” e’ yells. Now I should know
The way an eighteen footer ought to go.
“W’y don’t you ease ‘er ‘ead in them ‘ard squalls?
W’y don’t you this? W’y don’t you that?” ‘e bawls.
Now I been in the eighteens since a lad
I follerd in the footsteps of me Dad,
Who sailed with Ellis, Robbo and Chris Webb
I know the ‘arbour, both in flood and ebb.
I work the eighteen right in the breeze
By knowin’ w’en to ‘old and w’en to ease,
While that mug lair, our skipper, squats down aft,
Just frozen still at every fluky draught.
“You’ll ‘ave us in the drink!” he bellyaches
But ‘e’s just coverin’ ‘is own mistakes.
A cat’s-paw snaking down of Bradley’s ‘Ead,
Strikes terror in ‘is ‘eart, til it’s like lead.
To sail our boat you’ve got to know just ‘ow
She likes ‘er ‘eadsail pinnin’ down the bow.
If I go payin’ out the bloody sheet,
She gripes – and shivers in the wind a treat.
I’ve got to nail ‘e down, or she won’t sail,
But all I gets from Muggins is a wail:
“You’d think you got a grey nurse on that line.
You’ll swim the mob and think you’re doin’ fine!”
But what’s the use of tryin’ to explain?
“E wouldn’t understand, though it’s quite plain
That is ‘e simply steers, and ‘olds his bib,
Were in the money with me on this jib.
And when we get the gun, the papers say:
“E sailed a crafty race, the other day.”
‘E sailed the race! Well, I’m askin’ you:
To which bloke in the boat is the credit due?