Another type of sea song that is often sung on Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain are ‘leaving songs’ for the homeward leg of a journey. The lyrics of this particularly gorgeous leaving song, Mingulay Boat Song, was set to an older Gaelic tune in the 1930s by Sir Hugh S Roberton. Passengers and sail trainees on our boats might join in a live rendition of this or another beautiful leaving song, depending on the crew members on board at the time (as with all sea songs and shanties passed down through oral tradition).

Click below to learn the melody and lyrics.

Note: The tunes, lyrics and history of a single sea songĀ or shanty are often diverse and debated, given how these songs were passed along and changed (often simultaneously on many ships all over the seas). This is part of what is beautiful and fascinating about them. What we’re representing in this blog post is only one, and certainly not the only, version of a song and its history.

Full Lyrics - Mingulay Boat Song

(Chorus)

Heel y’ho, boys,

let her go, boys

Heave her head round into the weather

Heel y’ho. Boys,

let her go, boys,

Sailing homeward to Mingulay

 

What care we how white the Minch is

What care we boys for windy weather

When we know that every inch is

Closer homeward to Mingulay

 

(Chorus)

Heel y’ho, boys,

let her go, boys

Heave her head round into the weather

Heel y’ho. Boys,

let her go, boys,

Sailing homeward to Mingulay

 

Wives are waiting at the pierhead

Gazing seaward from the heather

Heave for head round and we’ll anchor

Ere the sun sets on Mingulay

 

(Chorus)

Heel y’ho, boys,

let her go, boys

Heave her head round into the weather

Heel y’ho. Boys,

let her go, boys,

Sailing homeward to Mingulay