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It’s a Good Weekend for a Chantey Sing

Yesterday we were reminded of a fun event that’s happening tomorrow — the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park are hosting their monthly Chantey Sing. And while we’re usually the first to encourage everyone to leave the house and go sailing, we acknowledge that the Bay Area’s current, cooler (OK, let’s say it out loud: “cold”) weather might deter some of the less-salty sailors among us.

Did you know that the term “sea chanteys” is usually used to describe work songs — short, with rhythmic and easy-to-remember lyrics that would be sung by sailors while engaging in repetitive tasks, like hauling lines or turning a capstan? We have found suggestions that sea chanteys originated in the 16th century, which does make some sense as almost every onboard job back then would have required strenuous repetition.

However, this weekend’s sea chanteys will be sung by people who will probably be sitting somewhere comfortable while sipping on a hot drink, or for the cheeky sailors, perhaps even an early lunchtime aperitif. That’s right, this chantey sing is virtual, and it’s free.

How did we come to be reminded of this event? Thanks for asking. While scrolling through our social media feed, for professional purposes of course, we were drawn to a photo posted on Facebook by the S.F. Maritime NHP. The photo shows the C.A. Thayer and the Matthew Turner bow-to-bow during a haulout that the two ships underwent late last year.

CA Thayer and Matthew Turner bowsprits
New kid on the block Matthew Turner nestled under ‘the old man’ – the C.A. Thayer’s bowsprit. It was almost like a parent looking down on its child.
© 2021 John Skoriak

But what really kept our attention was the great conversation that was imagined between the two classic Bay Area ships, by the crew from the maritime park.

C.A. Thayer: ‘It’s been ages! How’ve you been?’

Matthew Turner: ‘It’s been a while. You know how it is. The pandemic.’

C.A Thayer: ‘Yeah. It’s like waiting out the doldrums. I’m thinking about Wellness for the crew … I’ve got just the thing, Matey. There’s a monthly Chantey Sing every third Saturday at 11 a.m. Want to go? It’s free.

Matthew Turner: ‘Yeah? How? Can I invite the crew?’

C.A. Thayer: ‘Invite anyone you like. As I remember it, they sing a salty chantey.'”

So how about it folks; who’s in for a Chantey Sing this weekend? Here are the details:

Saturday, September 18, at 11 a.m.

For details on how to join in, follow the link at

Chantey sing aboard CA Thayer
A scene from a live chantey sing aboard C.A. Thayer — pre-pandemic days.
© 2021 SF Maritime Association

Oh, and from looking at the photos on the Chantey page, it appears you can even play your own instrument while you sing. Bonus!

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