Deckie Down                              Steve Gardham

When I was a youngster and life being dull,
On a sidewinder trawler I sailed out of Hull.
We slid down the Humber on a southerly breeze,
And pointed her nose for the cold Arctic seas.

Deckie, down, down, down, deckie, down.

To get to the Arctic it took us five days;
We were steaming along in the sea’s heavy sprays,
But you can’t shoot your net in the teeth of a gale,
When you’re tossing about like a barrel of ale.

When you get up to Iceland there’s no time to play,
For eighteen long hours you’re on deck every day;
A hand works the winch and the rest haul the gear,
And the men by the gallows they know little fear.

When we’re haulin’ the gear we lean over the side,
The waves sweep the deck, it’s a hell of a ride.
You must watch your fingers as the bobbins come in,
Or all you’ll have left is a lump of raw skin.

Now the cod-end is hovering and swinging about,
The mate jerks the knot and the catch it spews out;
We’re guttin’ on deck with a keen and sharp knife;
You’ve a couple of hours an’ you gut for your life.

The guttin’ is done at a hell of a pace,
The guts from the fish fly all over the place;
Then off down the chute to the fishroom they go,
Where the mate is a stowin’ the catch down below.

Oh, the spray turns to ice and it builds up so quick,
It isn’t too long ’fore it’s four inches thick,
Then it’s all hands on deck, lads, we need every man,
And don’t mind the frostbite and chop while you can.

We’re shootin’ the nets till the hold it is full,
Then it’s clean all the gear and we’re headin’ for Hull;
But sometimes the spray and the ice take their toll,
And it’s over she goes and the devil take all.