“According to the Act”


The song details shipboard life, and how conditions are kept tolerable, for "There's nothing done on a limejuice ship contrary to the Act." The most obvious example is the ration of limejuice, but other rules are also cited


The British Merchant Shipping Acts regulated most parts of a sailor's life, including the regular rations of lime juice (to prevent scurvy). Hence the title "limey" for British sailors, the word "limejuice tubs" for British ships -- and hence also this song.

Ironically, for the most part it was not lime but lemon juice that was given to sailors. They called it limejuice anyway, probably to make it sound more palatable. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "The Son of a Gambolier" (tune & meter) and references there


  1. Fahey-Eureka, pp. 42-43, "According to the Act" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Hugill, pp. 58-59, "The Limejuice Ship" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbrEd pp. 54-55]
  3. Roud #8341
  4. BI, FaE042


Alternate titles: “Limejuice and Vinegar”; “The Limejuice Ship”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1961 (Hugill)
Keywords: work law sailor ship
Found in: Australia