The Wealth of a Gloucesterman’s Soul by Thomas Welch

Eastern Rig

The Eastern Rig dragger “Annie,” a Gilardi family boat.

The Wealth of a Gloucesterman’s Soul

From the Maritime Provinces down to Cape May

and every Port in between

His eyes have been blessed, and he’s grateful today

For all the great wonders he’s seen

But it’s the experiences lived, again and again

ingrained in him year after year

The fish, the boats, the places, the men

are the memories his heart holds most dear

He’s seen sunrise and sunsets with no land in sight

Dolphins by the thousands at morning’s first light

Blue sharks feeding frenzy, Humpback whales as they breach

Graceful gannets a-diving, harbor seals on the beach

The delight at first sight of ol’ Thacher’s Light

The crew are beginning to pace

That sight means they’re sleeping home tonight

In their women’s, instead of Winters, embrace!

The deckhand sings, the Cook blows his nose

The bell-buoy rings and the foghorn blows

The cry of a blackback gull

These nautical sounds every Gloucesterman knows

Sure as storm waves will pound on the hull

The growl of the winch, the squeal of the block

The splash of the waterfall under the dock

as the wash-hose melts fish-ice above.

Knee deep haddock on deck,

a fat “shack money” check,

Special moments the fishermen love

The loud, constant rattle of Jitterbug forks

Bouncing over a broken wet floor

The yells from the Hold to the Hatch to the Wharf

keep the fish flowing quickly ashore

Muscles hardened by pulling, a thousand times each:

The oars of a dory, a dory up on the beach

Stern line aft, Spring line forward

Bow line taut, stern in, shore’ward

The Hatch cover off, Boots and Oilskins on

Penboards up and a boom hook down

Fighting sleep, he’s pulled the night watch from midnight ‘til dawn

Storms got bad then he’s pulled into town

A wire basket of whiting, the guts outta Cod

To spread wire on the reel? A heavy steel rod

A net full of fish up and over the rail

A rough wooden box of Large Dabs off the scale

A pallet off the stack, a good Captain’s leg

The Rum jug off a bar and the tap of a keg

Good men gather together

Whenever there’s weather

Northeast Gales keep boats tied to the pier

Fried Grey Sole down Mitch’s

Cold beer by the pitchers

Good friends, laughter, music and cheer

The waterfront abounds with these smells, sights and sounds

Rich memories more precious than gold

Building great strength of character which can only be found

In the wealth of a Gloucesterman’s Soul!

~ Thomas Welch

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