Social media. You never know who it's going to reach where, or what might come of it. Back in December, of 2016, Cruising World Magazine's Editor at Large, Gary "Cap'n Fatty" Goodlander, was posting on Facebook lamenting (OK, cursing actually) his difficulties mooring his boat Ganesh at Port Elizabeth, South Africa. These included a "satanic" topside-eating Wall, the port authority, and an invasion of rats and roaches.
Little did Capn' Fatty suspect that an indie musician and songwriter living in far away Russia was following the saga, and that in the series of posts he found the makings of a sea shanty.
Cap'n Fatty is an expressive writer. His word pictures of the whole affair were so vivid that I could absolutely envision that great evil Wall, the piratical "Port Liz" authorities, and hear the invading rats "celebrating" all night long. Out of such yarns were many old sea songs born, and I didn’t have to work too hard to forge his tale into a "new old sea song”.
The result is a single titled The Damned Port Elizabeth Wall. Essentially, it's a halyard shanty, even though the rhythm is like an Irish jig. But it's Cap'n Fatty's yarn that really makes the song enjoyable. He has tales to tell, and knows how to tell 'em. I mean, seriously - his boat invaded by rats who sound like they're having a Roman orgy!
The rats ran riot 'til break of day
Held a Roman orgy, or so they say
And Fatty, he got no sleep
Yo ho, haul away, and Fatty he got no sleep.
I found a great pic of the Cap'n on his Facebook page that I thought would make a great pic to accompany the single. But even in today's connected world it's not that easy to get in touch with a man who lives aboard a (relatively) small sailing vessel constantly circumnavigating the globe, as he has done for over half a century. But eventually, thru his publishers at Cruising World, I got through and he graciously gave permission to use the photo. But somehow I never got around to putting it together with the song until I read about the publication of his new book summing up 58 years of seamanship. You can follow Cap'n Fatty on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/capnfatty