midi file and text courtesy of Leslie Nelson-Burns at http://www.contemplator.com/sea/index.html

There's a saucy wild packet, and a packet of fame;
She belongs to New York, and the Dreadnought's her name;
She is bound to the westward where the stormy winds blow;
Bound away in the Dreadnought, to the west'ard we'll go.

The time of her sailing is now drawing nigh;
Farewell, pretty May, I must bid you good-bye;
Farewell to old England and all there we hold dear,
Bound away in the Dreadnought, to the west'ard we'll steer.

Oh, the Dreadnought is pulling out of Waterlock dock,
Where the boys and girls to the pierheads do flock;
They will give us three cheers while their tears do flow,
Saying, "God bless the Dreadnought, where'er she may go!"

Oh, the Dreadnought is waiting in the Mersey so free,
Waiting for the Independence to tow her to sea,
For around that rock light where the Mersey does flow,
Bound away in the Dreamings, to the westward we'll go.

Oh, the Dreadnought's a-bowlin' down the wild Irish Sea,
Where the passengers are merry, their hearts full of glee,
While her sailors like lions walk the decks to and fro,
She's the Liverpool packet, oh, Lord, let her go!

Oh, the Dreadnought's a-sailing the Atlantic so wide,
While the dark, heavy seas roll along her black sides,
With her sails neatly spread, and the Red Cross to show,
She's the Liverpool packet, oh Lord, let her go!

Oh, the Dreadnought's becalmed on the banks of Newfoundland,
Where the water's so green and the bottom is sand;
Where the fish of the ocean swim round to and fro,
She's the Liverpool packet, oh Lord, let her go!

Oh, the Dreadnought, she's a-bowlin' past old Nantucket Head,
And the man in chains takes a cast with the lead,
Then up jumps the flounder just fresh from the ground,
Crying, "Blast your eyes, Chucklehead;
      and mind where you sound!"

Oh, the Dreadnought's arrived in America once more,
We'll go ashore, shipmates, on the land we adore,
See our wives and our sweethearts, be merry and free,
Drink a health to the Dreadnought, whereso'er she may be.

Here's a health to the Dreadnought, and to all her brave crew.
Here's a health to her captain and officers too.
Talk about your flash packets, Swallow Tail and Black Ball,
But the Dreadnought's the clipper to beat one and all.

According to Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas this was an early Naval ballad called La Pique or The Flash Frigate. It was a capstan shanty.

The Dreadnought was known as "The Wild Boat of the Atlantic". Launched in 1853, she was a clipper of the Red Cross Line which set many transatlantic speed records. She sailed in the Atlantic and China trade until going down rounding Cape Horn in 1869.

Ships that carried the mail were called "packets." Swallow Tail and Black Ball were competing lines.


For a different version of this chantey pertaining to the Dreadnought's competitor, the packet clipper Yorkshire, click here.


This page is from the website of SSS YORKSHIRE - Sea Scout Ship 25, York, PA, USA - http://ship25bsa.org