A Portknockie Loon's Drifter Memories
George Pirie, San Ramon, San Francisco
  • Thid poem was written by a 'Portknockie loon' who now lives in San Francisco,
  • but after reading "Steam Drifters Recalled", the local history book, he was reminded of local drifters.
  • June 2001

  • 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',
  • 'Dexterity', 'Serenity'.
  • '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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