“Rules of the Road at Sea (Sailor's Rhymes)”


Not a song; a series of rhymes by which sailors would learn how to behave at sea. e.g. "When both side lights you see ahead, port your helm and show your Red. Green to Green or Red to Red, perfect safety, go ahead." Most concern weather prediction.


I wasn't sure whether to include this, since it really isn't a shanty. However, it would seem that these rhymes served a similar purpose to the shanties in that they helped the work along. - SL

And indeed the "rules" vary from the universally familiar ("Red [sky] at night", which is traditional even in my family -- and I don't have many family traditions!) to some which appear to deal with conditions in a particular harbor. We'll just file this as a lumping entry for all sailors' rhymes. - RBW


  1. Colcord, pp. 204-207, "Rules of the Road" (various short texts)
  2. BI, Colc204


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1938
Keywords: sailor nonballad ship
Found in: US Britain