Words & Music by Larry Kaplan; © 1976 Hannah Lane Music, BMI
The schooner Bowdoin, built for Donald MacMillan, made 26 trips to the arctic. Retired to Mystic seaport, she was brought back to Camden in the 1960s. Larry made a song about her (which T.B.M. still sings) called "John", about Capt. John Nugent, who lived aboard her many years and was mostly the one who kept her alive in those hard times. She recently returned to the Labrador under Capt. Andy Chase where children of the original inhabitants there visited her with great joy, fulfilling Larry's vision of her so many years ago.
Larry's version and mine have diverged over the years. You may hear his singing of this and may others on a Folk Legacy album – coming soon.
You sailed the cold waters f the great Northern Bays
The ice in your rigging and your rail in the waves
And the snow in your canvas like a winter-gull's wing
Oh, Lord, all the times you've been through.
And now you've got hard times and now you lie still
And you're fast to the anchor and chain
Broken and tired and the winds pass you by
But you're bound to go sailing again.
You sailed out of Boothbay on the soft Southern swell
Wind on your quarter, your bows rose and fell
So many remember so much more than they'll tell (sic)
of the hardest of times you've been through.
Greenland and Baffin and the white Labrador
In the winds and the terrible snow
When they carried their icepicks just to bring you about
In the light from the lantern below.
So rest, lady, rest from the fog and the gales,
Let the harbor protect you and the wind dry your sails
And a hundred old sailors tell their foggiest tales
Of all the hard times you've been through.
And we'll see your masts mingle with the spruces and pines
And we'll bow as we all pass you by
for a boat is more patient than a sailor can be
With the sun and the wind in his eye…
Song for the Bowdoin is recorded on the album Schooners