Rio Grande – Heaving Shanties

Interesting Facts about the Rio Grande – Heaving Shanties

Rio Grande – Heaving Shanties was in the opinion of Stan Hugill, it was one of the most popular families of heaving shanties in the days of sail. The Rio Grande always was sung at anchor capstan or windlass and was an outward-bound song.

By windlass, I mean anchor windlass when pulling the anchor happens in way of raise-up levers on both sides of the device, by moving up and down, the mechanism spin anchor or line, and each move pulls the anchor about a couple of inches. Below image of old fashion windlass.

Capstan windlass

The other way of using this song was at the capstan used later on sailing ships, it was a vertical-axled rotating machine developed for use on sailing ships to multiply the pulling force of seamen when hauling ropes. The capstan was used for multiple pulling (heaving) jobs, but raising the capstan was the heaviest job so the tempo was the slowest used on capstans. Below image of the capstan working on its sailors.

crew in front of the capstan

List of the Rio Grande – Heaving Shanties

  1. Rio Grande (A. Connan Doyle version)
  2. Rio Grande – Norvegian sailor version
  3. Rio Grande (A)
  4. Rio Grande (B)
  5. Rio Grande (C) – (Patterson version)
  6. Rio Grande (D)
  7. Rio Grande (E)
  8. Rio Grande (F)

Short story of the Rio Grande – Heaving Shanties

The “Rio Grande” from the title of this shanty is not Mexican Rio Grande, but the one further south in Brazil; not Rio Grande del Nord only Rio Grande dol Sul. Golden sand mentioned in some of the versions applies to the southern Brasilian river and port, for both banks of the Brazilian Great River are cheaped high with sand dunes, as many seamen are aware, also in the past gold was a commodity found in this district.