A Portknockie Loon's Drifter Memories
George Pirie, San Ramon, San Francisco
A new book oot "Steam Drifters Recalled",
It's keeping me here just fair enthralled,
BFs and others therein contained,
Page upon page my interest sustained.
So oft we used to be in oor bed,
And name the drifters from A to Z,
Some 58 oor hairber could boast,
A rival to others along the coast.
The 'Acquire' was there and 'Alpha' tae,
'I'll Try' was lying against the quay,
Ane made o' iron, anither was widden,
The power was steam to keep them driven.
Engines and bilers of different makes,
Lids for the bunkers along the decks,
Bra painted funnels, it's a in the book,
A pown the ton the coalman took.
Some of the boats had weemen's names,
Like 'Jeannie' and 'Princess' - local dames,
The 'Daisy Wood', 'Clara Wood', 'Fanny Mair',
And I canna forget the 'Margaret Mair'.
For I sailed aboord the 'Margaret Mair',
Fin I was six and nithing mair,
At later date she took on fire,
Sad end to Jeemsie's fond desire.
And Granda Jock had 'Hawthorn Bud',
His brother 'Ticks' the 'Berrie Braes',
'Thacker' and 'Ticks' their by-names stood,
But nae passed on to later brood.
And ither boats had flowery names,
Like 'Heather Vale' and 'Fertile Vale',
Beelie's 'Blackthorn', the 'Pansy' too,
That's to mention just a few.
They mention Jeemses in the book,
I mind him fine because I took,
A week in his 'Valkyrie' boat,
'Fine ship', he'd say, 'the best afloat'.
I sure can mind on Billy Watt,
He steered the 'Livley', in and oot,
Past the lang quay, roon aboot,
Blew the fussel, gids a toot.
Some were noted for their speed,
They say 'White Lilac' took the lead,
But Jimmie sailed his ain 'Trade Wind',
Gye close and nae far behind.
I mention drifters A to Z,
The port could boast an X and Z,
We nearly filled the alphabet,
The 'Zodiac' some skipper's boat.
Bit fir aboot an X ye say,
Johnnie Harper made oor day,
See her number on the lum,
That's the 'Xeranthemum'.
You'll mind as wee1 the 'Heathery Brae',
'Favo', 'Cherish', 'L'Industrie',
'Sublime', 'Sustain', 'Pitgavenie',
They a were there in oor young day.
Some further names I here append,
The 'Fisher Lad' and Kay's 'True Friend',
Bright names like 'Sunshine', 'Golden Ray',
'Celosia', 'Mizpah', 'Flowing Tide',
The 'Constancy' at Porthill Side,
'White Oak', 'The Mains' and 'Betsy Slater',
A squeezed in, but did it maiter?
'The Herring Seeker' was on hire,
But Wullie had his ane 'Sapphire',
It seems to a whilie later on,
Anither ca'd the 'Sapphire Stone'.
The 'Dove', the 'Clarion', 'Welcome Star',
'Elsie Bruce' and 'Au Revoir',
Haud on, haud on, there's still some mair,
'Lemnos', 'Vernal' and 'Tarlair'.
The 'Trident', yes she's next in line,
In she comes, ten forty nine,
And fa is that ahin the wheel?
I mind him fine - his name is Beel.
That's nay them a, but read the book,
Value the time the researchers took,
To place such treasure in oor hands,
To me and you in foreign lands.
There's some missed oot, I dinna doot,
But there's enough to figure oot,
Why father's races, as hard times grew,
They left the port for pastures new.
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