Old Fat Boat

© 1976 Gordon Bok, BMI

 

                I have always felt a little cheated by life that I had never been in a situation where I felt sorry enough for myself that I had to write what Pete Seeger calls a "navel" or a "bellybutton" song. 

            Well, it finally struck.  Years ago I was bringing in an old wooden boat from Connecticut to Maine.  Ran out of crew about the time the weather started going crook.  Threw my back out trying to get an anchor out of the mud.  Crippled around Newport for three days in the cold June rain, looking for any unfeathered biped who would help me get the slab a little farther along the coast.  No luck.  Got blisters on my butt rowing in wet dungarees.  Got wet, too. 

            Got a raving NW wind one day and decided to have a go without any help (had to use the jib-sheet winch to get the anchor off the bottom; always wondered what those noisy round things were for…) Slammed out of there with half a bag of sail on and headed her East.

            Ended up off Mattapoisett harbor with the weather getting glommy again; decided to get off my feet for the night so I worked her in there and anchored, got the sails off her. Brownell workboat came out and told me, since it was going to blow Northeast, why didn't I take their mooring… over there.  Got the anchor up and went over to pick up their mooring.  Realized that, with the wind Northeast, I was halfa mile downwind of the town wharf… again.

            Piled into that ridiculous plastic dog-dish they called a rowboat and pulled ashore in the rain.  Called home, went back down the "rowboat" and, as I was shipping the oars, got a humongous splinter in the crotch of my hand.  Blew downwind back out to the ketch.  Went below, started the leaky stove to get the damp out, got out the hydrogen peroxide, the knife and the oilstone.  Looked at the splinter, got out the run. Properly anesthetized, I was working on the splinter and it occurred to me to wonder what was for supper.  Realized it was Saturday night, raining, town was a mile's row and a mile's walk after that…

            A couple of days later I found most of this song, along with a list of groceries (existent and non-existent) in the logbook.

 

PS- my thanks to Ken Hicks, that outrageous gentle-man from Virginia, who allowed me to rip off a bit of his fine song "Half the Fun of Going is Getting There."

 

Here I am, man, all alone again

Anchored away the hell and gone again

Another mile from another town

Wind Northeast and the rain coming down.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea;

A home for the mildew, friend to the flea –

 

I don't care, man, I'm happy.

I got an old fat boat, she's slow but handsome

Hard in the chine and soft in the transom

I love her well; she must love me

But I think it's only for my money.

 

No more tobacco, no more cheese;

I'm sprung in the back and lame in the knees.

It's a damned good thing I'm easy to please;

There ain't nothing in town on a Sunday.

 

You know, I got milk and I got ice;

I got home-made bread, a little old, but nice.

Everybody puts their cooking hat on

When you tell 'em you're leaving in the morning.

 

Yes, I got coffee, I got tea,

I got the beans and the beans got me.

I got tuna fish, I got rum,

I got a two-pound splinter in my thumb.

So I'll take my toddy and my vitamin C

And the radio for my company.

Oh, me.  I got the hydrogen peroxide blues.

 

Well mercy, mercy, I do declare

If half the fun of going is the getting there,

Mercy, Percy, you better start rowing,

'Cause the other half of getting there is going.

 

 

Old Fat Boat is recorded on the album Because You Asked, and on A Rogue's Gallery of Songs for the 12-String and is also in the songbook One to Sing, One to Haul