Poems about the Bank Line experience

A Tramping trip 1950’s

It doesn’t seem so long ago,

Ship’s winches chugging loudly in the snow,

Tangled cables, boards, and an old hatch batten,

lay around in a random fashion.

Its a winters morn in another dock,

Safe behind the entrance lock.

This then was a tramping ship,

and joining for  another trip.

Memories of island life come flooding back

And thoughts of copra brought by sack

The lazy life of sun and sand

And music from a native band

Coconut oil warm and rich,

Piped ashore without a hitch

And soon the copra too is gone.      

Sweeping up won’t take too long. 

Then the cabins all in white,

And quilts of blue, tucked up tight,

A feeling that the trip to come

might be special, might be fun. 

Its an honour to be aboard

Silent thanks up to the Lord

this magic scene’s not there for all

But fate decided when to call. 

Tramp Odyssey

A big bluff bow looms over the quay,

a shaking ladder beckons me,

This magic beanstalk, I understand,

will whisk me off to foreign lands.

Soon the sun and flying fish,

show the way – a special bliss

of still, calm dawns, and sudden storms

twinkling stars, both near and far.

Working cargo through the night,

wet and sticky, might fuse the lights,

sweating gunnies between the beams

with glinting hooks by native teams.

Hardship sometimes is the ship I’m on

all at war and nothing won,

Unlucky in the choice of ship

and feeling numb on a 2 year trip

Then a port calls out, loud and clear,

the bars, the girls, if it’s not too dear.

The barren living’s put on pause,

it’s paradise on distant shores.

All is pleasure all is fun,

then sailing onward in the sun,

endless days and the tricky ways

of working up the daily run.

Moonless nights and a million stars,

jar the senses from afar,

It’s timeless space, and the human race

sees just how small we really are.

A bright blue planet floating free,

ants tracking over miles of sea,

we keep our watch, the dolphins dive,

we’re living out our own short lives.

Something special and precious too,

these trips were a potent brew,

we tasted things quite rare today

and savoured times long gone away.

It was the tramp ships, wild and free,

best for those who went to sea

All the ports, strange human sorts,

A heady cocktail, just made for thee.


It doesn’t seem so long ago,

Joining sometimes in the snow,

But what a life on the Copra run,

Cruising round the Pacific sun!

First,  a visit to Gulf Ports,

The hectic loading of all sorts,

Sailing down to the Antipodes

Then island hopping in Southern Seas.

There were those times, – a precious thing,

When island folk began to sing,

The natural lazy way of life,

Free from worry, free from strife.

It was a gift, we never thought,

Just a job that we had sought,

But looking back it was something special

Joining on that Copra vessel.