Capstan Shanty

Correctness of naming Capstan Shanty category

The category “Capstan Shanty”, as mentioned in a comment on this page by Professor Gibb Sheffler, is not very clear and I do agree. He points out the fact that: Sometimes the song has specific features that make it especially good for capstan or windlass, other times, the only thing that someone like Stan Hugill means by “capstan shanty” is that someone sang the song while working on the capstan. We can sing “Sally Brown” equally at halyards, windlass, or capstan. We can sing “Rio Grande”, however, only at the windlass or capstan because it has a “grand chorus” that fills extra time. Although still very imperfect, rather than “capstan shanty” and “windlass shanty,” a better category might be “heaving shanty” (covering both capstan and lever windlass, the two “heaving” jobs).

But because most shanty collectors keep this naming convention, I also will keep the traditional naming of this category of shanties.

On the sailing ship, For the raise an anchor there were two types of devices for raise the anchor:

First, the older one when sailors used Capstan Shanty was leaver windlass

Work in the same way as old type levers pump, the difference in terms of the shanties was the movement was different and have a middle step, in the waist level (horizontal position level of the levers).

So full cycle from point of view of the one site was arms down on the deck (feet), next tempo on the waist level, next up as possible arms upon to the sky, and back on the waist, the cycle closed on arms on deck again.

capstan-shanty leaver windlass

Here is one example of the windlass capstan in action. This fantastic example happens in Mystic Seaport Museum. The heaving anchor operation has placed on the last surviving whaling ship Charles W. Morgan.

Worth noting is the fact it used “Mister Stormalong” shanty as a helping tool, exactly how it was happening in old times, the shantyman is one of the most knowledgable people about sea shanties, Professor Gibb Sheffler, who like only one person in whole the world recorded all songs from the Stan Hugill book – “The Shanties From The Seven Seas” (over 400 songs!).

The second type is the capstan

From the horizontal form of anchor windlass, the capstan evolves into the vertical drum or barrel, with horizontal spars (called capstan bars) which have been pushed by sailors, so the twisted rope on the barrel was pulled by the force of the capstan, and this way they can walk around the capstan and heave the line or chain.

capstan-shanty barell capstan

Index Of The Capstan Shanty

  1. A Long Time Ago (C)
  2. Ane Madam – Trøndelag Version (Norwegian)
  3. As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway
  4. Banks Of Sacramento – Patterson Capstan version
  5. Blow. Ye Winds (A)
  6. Blow Ye Winds (B)
  7. Blow Ye Winds (extra verses)
  8. Blow ye winds of morning
  9. Blow The Wind Wester. – First Version
  10. Blow The Wind Wester. – Second Version
  11. Bound for the Rio Grande (Cecil Sharp Version)
  12. Bound for the Rio Grande (R. R. Terry’s Version)
  13. Bound To California
  14. California
  15. Der Hamborger Veermaster (German)
  16. Et Nous Irons a Valparaiso (French)
  17. Goodbye Fare-ye-well (A)
  18. Goodbye Fare-ye-well (B)
  19. Goodbye Fare-ye-well (C)
  20. Goodbye Fare-ye-well (D)
  21. Goodbye Fare-ye-well (Norwegian)
  22. Goodbye Fare-ye-well (odd verses collection)
  23. Goodnight Ladies
  24. Heisevise – Wergland version (Norwegian)
  25. Hieland Laddie (A)
  26. Hog-eye Man – Bullen
  27. Horraw For The Blackball Line
  28. Horraw For The Blackball Line (Liverpool Jacks Tune)
  29. Horraw For The Blackball Line (solo variations)
  30. Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah!
  31. Johnny Come Down To Hilo
  32. Knock A Man Down
  33. Larry Marr
  34. Magelhan (German)
  35. Magelhan Orginal (German)
  36. Mochyn Du
  37. Mother Carey’s
  38. My Bonnie Highland Lassie-O
  39. O Johnny Come To Hilo – Cecil Sharp
  40. Opsang For Brasiliefareren, Briggen Preciosa (Norwegian)
  41. Randy Dandy O!
  42. Rio Grande (A. Connan Doyle version)
  43. Rio Grande – Norvegian sailor version
  44. Rio Grande (A)
  45. Rio Grande (B)
  46. Rio Grande (C) – (Patterson version)
  47. Rio Grande (D)
  48. Rio Grande (E)
  49. Rio Grande (F)
  50. River Shenandore – L. A. Smith Version
  51. Roll And Go
  52. Roll The Cotton Down (C) – Capstan Version
  53. Roll The Woodpile Down – capstan
  54. Rolling King
  55. Rolling Home A
  56. Rolling Home B
  57. Rolling Home By The Silver Moon
  58. Rosabella Fredolin (Swedish)
  59. Round The Bay Of Mexico
  60. Sacramento (A)
  61. Sacramento (B)
  62. Sacramento (C)
  63. Sacramento (D)
  64. Sacramento – Norvegian English worded version
  65. Sacramento – Version from German barque Gustav
  66. Sally Brown (A)
  67. Sally Brown (A2)
  68. Sally Brown (A – Stanley Slade version)
  69. Sally Brown (A – Dick Maitland version)
  70. Sally Brown (C)
  71. Santiana D (Norwegian)
  72. Santiana (D) (Norvegian – English Translation)
  73. Santy Anna (Terry’s Version)
  74. Shenandoah A
  75. Shenandoah B
  76. Shenandoah – Bullen
  77. Shenandoah C
  78. Shenandoah D
  79. South Australia (Doerflinger Version)
  80. South Australia (Harlow version)
  81. South Australia – L. A. Smith Version
  82. Ten Stone
  83. The Codfish Shanty
  84. The Fishes A
  85. The Fishes B
  86. The Gals O’ Chile
  87. The Gals O’ Dublin Town (B)
  88. The Hog-eye Man
  89. The Hog-eyed Man – Cecil Sharp
  90. The Lowlands Low (A)
  91. The Lowlands Low (B)
  92. Ved Ankerhioning (Norvegian)

My private collection of books

Shantyman library –  you will see descriptions and recommendations of positions worth diving into, true sources of knowledge about sea shanties. To gain knowledge about sea shanties is the main ultimate purpose of this library, every book in this library is somehow related to sea shanties and before mast songs.

More involvement in Traditional Sea Shanties

You can find this record here or directly listen below. If you want to discuss the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here.