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Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

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Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Monday, November 4, 2013

Barge Come Ploddin'

Classic Barge in NYC (

Long hours at the helm or scull give one a lot of time to sing, with none but the gulls to hear.

And, if one is sailing or sculling a barge, songs that have something to do with them are extra fun!

The barge repertoire is kinda limited, however. Lessee...

Lotta barges on the Erie Canal... even a song of that name (by the great Springsteen Hisself!). The E-R-I-O was a'Risin' is a rockin' tune, heading up a mixed list of barge-based songs of inebriation. Shawnee Town, by Chris Vallillo is a beaut from the O-hi-O.

Then there's Barges, a deceptively cutsie Girl Scout camp song. [CAUTION: It's an earworm that's hard to kill!] Or the beautiful but mysterious Barge Song  by Malkah Duprix. Even Denis Leary gets on board with Love Barge.  8)

Or the classic chantey of the Volga Barge Haulers, aka 'boatmen' (check out the Glenn Miller version of '41... I presume it topped the charts after Hitler invaded the USSR in June of that year???).

Or -- if you squint -- Gordon Bok's Liza Jane or Old Fat Boat... they could be about barges. Or not. [CAUTION: To hear these, you may have to quickly squelch the ad-blast for Euro-Barge by the Vandals. Or not!]

Somewhere out there is even the Star Wars soundtrack for Jabba the Hutt's Barge!


Alright. A good handful, but none of these exactly celebrate the barge itself. So I  whipped up a ditty to fill the gap. Hopefully y'all are as tolerant as the gulls!

Note: I apologize for any formatting errors some of you may see below... the art of WYSIWYG is in sad decline. If you have to copy it out, all the vertical bars should align.

Barge Come Ploddin' 
Words by Dave Zeiger PUBLIC DOMAIN 2013
Tune of
John Johanna (JOHN JOHANNA), traditional... repeat 3rd and 4th phrase for chorus... Slow and easy, or fast an fierce... Bars indicate the first downbeat of each line. If you're brave, you can hear me slaughter it here.

                       Am                      C
                     | First Boat was a log, you know;
                       C                               Am
                     | Second come the raft.
                       Am                          C
                     | Next Boat was a Barge, my Friends;
                 A | most persistent craft!
                     | Hulls that shaped the Age of Sail
                       C                            Am
          Have | all but passed a-way;
                       Am                         C
      But the | humble Barge is out there;
                       C                             Am
         She's | haulin' freight to-day.

CHORUS:         | Who that on the water,
                                C                                       Am

           When the | others done been and gone?
                                Am                       C

                              |Takin' her time, haulin' her load,
                                C                     Am
                              | Barge come ploddin' along!

                | Some folks call her Barge, my Friends;
                | Some might name her Scow.
                | Sometimes goes by other names;
                | It don't matter nohow.
                | Sailin' down the river,                          (| up)
          Or | up along the coast                                (| down ... shore)   
                | Haulin' her load on big, wide feet

    Come | wind nor rain nor frost.               (And | comin' round for more)

[May repeat this verse, with alternate words to end song.]

                | Sailin' in deep water;

                | Skimmin' o'er the shoals;
                | Takin' the ground as a matter of course,
                | Neapin' out the blows.
                | Cheap to build, cheap to run,
                | Born to haul car-go.
    She'll | stretch that Almighty Dollar
 Just as | far as it'll go!

          So | let that yachty feller
          A-  | lookin' down his nose
                | Talk o' spit and polish

And the | Beauty of a Rose.
       Just | smile and nod and wink yer eye;
                | Let him have his say.
       And | when that tide come a'risin'...

   HOIST | SAIL and slip away!

[May repeat second verse, with alternate words to end song.]


So there ya go.

If any of you with the skills care to put together a track to spread around the public domain, please give it a go! Send me a link and I'll post it here. 

Ditto if you know of any more barge songs.

Let's hum a few bar(ge)s!


  1. I love it! a great song. Now record and put an audio file up so we can all sing along. :)

    1. Hi Brad,

      Thanks! Theres a link to Grisman and Seeger doing the tune (just under the song title - the purple bit)... sorry about the wierd link colors... it's a Blogger issue I'm trying to get cleared up.

      I'm hoping someone out there with talent can do a version... I'm strictly a second row singer/player (banjo). Can't walk and chew gum at the same time, much less sing and play! 8(

      Dave Z

  2. Come on Dave! You can do it! If you can build a barge then you can do anything.
    The sound of a real sailor singing it would be highly authentic. You just sing...let another play...sit down and stick you gum in a safe place before you start. :)

    1. Hmm... authentic it would be.

      Interesting question, though; whether if one can build a barge, they can do anything.

      Maybe one reason I like barges so much is that I, myself, am a 'plodder'.

      I don't think quickly and am nearly a pure mono-tasker. Boatbuilding and sailing are (I find) very linear processes... working it one step after another. That, in part, is what makes them so accessible. Anyone can do it who can settle themselves down to a plod.

      But music (while I love to participate) is multi-stream, multi-tasking, full-brain/body activity. (Especially) when I take the lead, it's "play that funky music, white boy" time. Even in a group no one (who knows me) tries to have me 'take it'. Like I say, I'm comfortable (and sorta capable) in the background, but out front it's a disaster.

      I think of that scene in THE NERD... Steve Martin - born a poor, black (and rhythmless) child - finds his beat, listening to Lawrence Welk on the radio. His father's reaction, "That poor boy. That poor, poor boy!"

      And yet, we built ZOON next to Skookum Jumprope, a business employing variously challenged young people. They had a banner over the door sporting an African saying, "If you can walk, you can dance. If you can laugh you can sing."

      So here I am on my soapbox, exhorting all who dream to do. Maybe I should dance the walk I talk.

      I'll think on it... thanks for the push!

      Dave Z

    2. Okay Brad,

      You asked for it, you get it. Me and muh banjo sucking up. Or maybe just sucking. 8)

      Here's the link to my world debut:

      Like our boats, it might pass the 100 yard test.

      Careful what you wish for!

      Dave Z

  3. Your next boat is a big project and very expensive...I was wondering why you couldn't make it easier and cut up the project into 3 parts:
    1. Make your 24ft cabin with box ends and copper bottom
    2. Make a cockpit so it could bolt to the main cabin
    3. Make a 8'x8'x4'8" pointed bow with flat bottom sloping up 1.5' to the point on a straight run...Construct it so it could be bolted to the main cabin..

    You already have Slacktide....By dividing up the project you make a big job a series of small jobs and you don't have to bend ply on the bottom just have straight runs...End up with a 40'x8' sailing barge...How about the Mary Elisabeth? Didn't he use a cooper powder in his epoxy? Did that work?...

    I'm getting lazier as time passes me by...I made a box for truck a few yrs ago...I sold my truck last yr and kept the box..I'm going to cut it up and make a 14.5'x30"x16" motor-sailing nested canoe with canopy and junk rig.. Then I can have a boat again and worried about it getting stolen..I just can't get my ass in gear...