From the recording Nantucket Girl

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The Petticoat Whaler
• Susan J. Berman – Guitar & Vocals
• Ray K. Saunders - Lead Guitar
• Mark Dann – Guitar & Bass

Not all Nantucket women stayed home while their husbands went off whaling. If you were a whaling captain you could opt to bring your wife and children along on a whaling voyage. The practice was called “wife carrying” and these women were called “petticoat whalers.” Petticoat whalers traveled the globe with their husbands and saw ports of call other women could only dream of visiting. They assumed important roles on whale ships, teaching sailors to read, tending to sick crew and doing laundry. Petticoat whaler Susan Veeder even gave birth while out on a whaling voyage.
This song is my fictitious account of a Nantucket woman making her case to her captain husband to bring her along on his next whaling voyage.


The Petticoat Whaler
By Susan J. Berman

When you first wore that chockpin, how I longed to be your wife.
To hunt the great leviathan is such a noble life
Now you’ve earned your stripes I’m a captain’s wife and your ship’s bound far away.
Like the times before gone for years or more, this time please don’t let me stay.

Let me rock upon the water, let me roll upon the sea.
Let me see the sights of distant shores like brothers before me.
Let me help to sway the halyard, let me cry out hard to lea.
Oh I know I wear this petticoat but I’m a grey lady.

I know you think I’m fragile, but of Quaker stock I’m made
I’ll gladly face the high seas, and keep the greenhands staid.
I could wash the clothes or shout “thar she blows” each time a whale’s in sight.
Yes our family’s here but it’s you my dear that I long for in the night.

I’ll proudly wear this petticoat for each sperm that is struck.
With fair winds and a full sail to bring us greasy luck.
When we round cape horn pray there be no storms and the west winds are at bay.
Through the south sea isles, charting all the miles I’ll be with you all the way.