4 May 2010 9 Comments

Auckland to the Bluff

Written by the legendary NZ Shantyman Rudy Sunde (c) 1991 ish

I left the city when just a lad
Times were hard and no work to be had
So I went to sea on the Florabelle
Little did I know ’twas a ship from hell

The ship was old and leaking at the seams
A dirty old tub somewhat broad in the beam
Its sails were torn some planks were rotten
It lay at the wharf a-gently rocking

I’ve sailed from Auckland to the Bluff
A thousand miles and that’s enough
A thousand miles on the heaving sea
Glory Halleju that’s enough for me

We set sail on the evening tide
It was early on a Saturday night
All went well till the Tiri light
Then by God I got a fright

The ship was hit by a big beam sea
Christ I thought it was all up with me
She rolled and she lolloped like a big tin drum
Hell I thought me time had come


Shorten sails the skipper cried
Shorten sails or you buggers will all die
Get aloft get aloft get up the mast
Get aloft get aloft and get up there fast

Never in my life had I been so scared
Never in my life had I wished I was dead
But I climbed the mast and shortened sail
Then I climbed down again and was sick o’er the rail


Man the pumps the skipper roared
Man the pumps or you’ll sail the ocean floor
So I pumped all night though my hands were raw
And I pumped and I pumped ’till the coming of the dawn

How we survived that night I don’t know
The wind it did roar and the wind it did blow
But the sun came up and the sea went down
The wind did ease and we headed south


For breakfast we had mouldy bread
For lunch it was the very same fare
For supper we had a stinking stew
Cookie couldn’t eat his own damned brew

The skipper was an old man old and mean
Tough as nails and just as lean
Voice like a foghorn in the gloom
When he cursed was a voice of doom


The work was hard and the pay was mean
The food was rotten and the quarters none too clean
The journey south was always rough
So I jumped the ship when we pulled into Bluff

So here in Bluff I’ll settle down
Never again will I leave this town
Never again will I go to sea
Never again will it see me

9 Responses to “Auckland to the Bluff”

  1. tracey olson 30 July 2010 at 6:08 am #

    Why is there no MP3 of this song? Are you people trying to make profits off a ship that probably went down in the straights 150 years ago?? Have you dummies lost your minds?? MEN DIED!! You DO NOT own their heritage. Is this some fuckin’ half-assed attempt by KIWIS to make money off the backs of TRUE seamen?? You are assholes. I hope I meet you someday so that I may set you straight. And I will you bunch of faggots!! New Zealand sucks my shitty ass!!! Dolts.

  2. stefan 1 August 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Thanks for your comments Tracey, I will try to reply to them one by one:

    1) There is no mp3 of this song, because this is just a resource site, and not a shop. If you want a copy please let me know, and I can put you in touch with the Maritime Crew who can sell you a CD.

    2) Are we trying to make a profit off this site? In the interest of full disclosure, we have had one ad click from this so far, which gives us the grand total of 25 cents. So, no.

    3) I’m not sure how to break this to you, but the ship mentioned in the above song is fictional, and didn’t actually go down in the straights 150 years ago, no men died. It actually doesn’t even go down at all in the song. You may be interested to know that the narrative of the main character in the song has been expanded by the author Rudy Sunde in a recent immigration production at Lopdell House in Titirangi, Auckland. Where the once traumatised sailor grows up to be a sea captain.

    4) An interesting point you raise is that we do not own the heritage of our own sea music. I think that this is an intriguing point, as in who does own the heritage of their folk songs and what defines ownership? If anyone could lay claim to the heritage of the NZ folk scene it should surely be all NZ’ers and those who enjoy the music?

    5) As to you hoping to meet me someday to set me straight, then I truly hope that comes to pass. The only real way this can be resolved is a good old fashioned “Shanty off”. The way it works is that you start with a shanty to try and put us off our game, then we respond trying to beat your shanty. It goes on like that until one of us gives up and the other one wins the shanty battle. It’s just like break dancing really.

  3. Tracey Allan Olson 24 January 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Why do you folk not publish this song for free?? It is not ALL about money, you know. Maybe down south there you think that we in the north want something for free. But, this song existed long before you or you daddies were born. In Canada, we would hunt you down and kick your asses! I guess in your hearts you believe that you are pulling one over on the grasping western democracies, but all you are doing in PREVENTING Canadians and Americans and anybody else from hearing these songs. Are you just crazy or perhaps you are just a bunch of greedy druncken fools!

    traceyolson2001@yahoo.com( I am a Man BTW)

  4. Tracey Allan Olson 24 January 2011 at 5:53 am #

    I noticed your previous reply to me. But I never recieved a reply from you, or the group that Made this song. I originally wrote about three or four years ago. There is a good chance that I will come down there, and when I do i am sure that I will be out-numbered. But in the meantime, can you not convince your friends to give us a break up here, up North? We just want to hear your songs. We love you folk. Trace

  5. Tracey Allan Olson 24 January 2011 at 5:59 am #

    BTW, If you fellas need some money, just tell me how much and I will send it to you. I have the Lyrics already. I could get some MEN up here to sing it, but it would not be the same as you men singin’ it. Help me out. My email is traceyolson2001@yahoo.com. Help me put. OK? Trace

  6. stefan 24 January 2011 at 7:18 pm #


    You’ve been drunk messaging haven’t you?

    Haven’t you.

    Let me explain, most drunken conversations tend to follow a simple pattern:

    1) Excitement: “Why do you folk not publish this song for free??”. Note the double question mark to express incredulity. If we were at a party I imagine that at this point you would be talking a bit too loud and standing a bit too close, possibly interrupting a conversation I would be having with somebody else.

    2) Aggression: “In Canada, we would hunt you down and kick your asses!” I imagine if you said that to me at a party you would kind of laugh while saying it to not incite an actual fight, but then stop laughing abruptly and stare at me a little too long to make sure that I knew you were serious.

    3) Confusion: “I noticed your previous reply to me. But I never recieved a reply from you” . At this point I would be looking sheepishly around the place trying to catch someone’s eye, I might also give an apologetic smile to the host of the party. You know the one, the smile that says “I know, he’s drunk. I’ll tolerate him because it’s a party and you kind of expect that sort of thing.”

    4) Empathy/Love: “can you not convince your friends to give us a break up here, up North? We just want to hear your songs. We love you folk. Trace” This is the part of the conversation that starts getting really uncomfortable. I imagine you would start hugging me suddenly and without warning. And then saying over and over again that you really like me and though we have just met I think we should keep in touch and swap songs and maybe have a jam sometime I just bought a mountain dulcimer and I haven’t learnt to play it but wouldn’t it be SO awesome if I played it…….. and so on.

    And after all that I walk away not really knowing what just happened or why but wishing I could get the last 45 mins back.

  7. Dan 15 March 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    I’m not sure if the aforementioned responders noticed that the shanty was written in 1991. That being said, the gentleman who wrote the song deserves to be paid for it. As far as making profit from tragedy, here’s one I wrote this year, taken from Sharpe, who I believe to be an actual soldier, a member of the 95th rifles, during the Napoleonic war . The series on BBC chronicles the man, but the actual melody and different lyrics were actually written in 1709. I’ve updated the lyrics to the popular conflict in the middle east.
    For fourteen years we’ve been at war
    And no one seems to know what for
    Islam keeps us(US) well at bay over the hills and far away
    O’er the hills and far away to Iraq, Afghanistan
    George Bush command and we did stray, over the hills and far away
    Cheney waves his bloody hand and kills young people from this land
    Halliburton we still pay, over the hills and far away
    Instead of spending precious youth send tired old men to fight for truth
    Then they can die for what they say, over the hills and far away. No, I’m not making any money for this, just enjoy

  8. Dan 15 March 2015 at 9:31 pm #


  9. Karole S 27 November 2018 at 10:33 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this shanty. It was one of my late husband’s favorites (great song!) and I was looking all over the web for an upcoming shanty sing in his honor.

    Many thanks!

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