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Golden Bay

Roud #26451

Composed by brothers Henry Nash (Sr) and Bernard Nash who fished together in Golden Bay, this song describes a whaling expedition that left Branch in 1912. The crew caught a whale, but it rotted before they could sell it for the thirty pounds in gold that they expected to receive.

Henry Nash (Sr) was Anthony Power’s father-in-law. Bernard Nash’s son, Denis, has a written version of the song. Though there are a few differences, the versions are very similar. Both versions are included in the downloadable songsheet to allow for comparison.

Listen to Anthony Power sing “Golden Bay,” view Aidan O'Hara's transcript, and download your own copy of the words.

Golden Bay / Anthony Power

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Golden Bay / Anthony Power

Golden Bay, song (In nineteen hundred and twelve, my boys for Golden Bay set sail …) Composed by brothers Henry Nash (Sr) and Bernard Nash who fished together in Golden Bay, this song describes a whaling expedition that left Branch in 1912. The crew caught a whale, but it rotted before they could sell it for the thirty pounds in gold that they expected to receive.  Henry Nash (Sr) was the father-in-law of Anthony Power, who performs the song here. 

Anthony Power's version of “Golden Bay”

In nineteen hundred and twelve, my boys for Golden Bay set sail,
The wind being up from the Easters, it blew a pleasant gale.
For we left Branch that sporting place, on the 25th of May,
To serve our master for three long months in a place called Golden Bay.

Nicholas Power bein’ our skipper as you may understand,
There’s James McGrath and Patrick, the next man had command;
There’s Joseph Power and others, their names I will pen down,
And likewise Mr. Rogers belong to St. John’s town.

Two more young men from Branch, my boys, from there they had set sail,
They were only a short while stationed here when they picked up a whale;
They towed him in to the Westering Cove, and said he was safe and sound,
And swore they would not let him go no less than thirty pounds.

They telegrammed for the whaler, the truth to you I’ll tell,
Before she got to Redland Point she could not stand the smell;
And when the whaler hove in view, Jack’s spirits they rose high,
And slappin’ his companion on the back, sayin’ ‘We’ll do it by and by.’

They rode off to the whaler, like hardy seamen bold,
And swore they should be paid right down with thirty pounds in gold;
Saying Captain Smith, he walked the deck, those words to us did say,
Saying, ‘Thirty pounds for rotting whale, we’d never clear away.’

And when the whaler turned to them, they got a great surprise,
Saying the people on shore will laugh at us, we’ll have to tell them lies;
And when they landed on the Rock, the crowd assembled there,
And asking Jack about the whale, Sir Joe began to swear.

And now they’re in the Westering Cove, there lies 300 more,
They are as fine a crew of men as ever sailed o’er the ground;
You may search in foreign countries, their betters can’t be found.

And now the whaler is gone my boys, I have no more to say,
May the curse of heavens on the whale and likewise Golden Bay.

The Whale in Golden Bay

Compare with the version of the text provided by Denis Nash (Bernard Nash’s son) and transcribed by Rosella Coffey (Bernard Nash's granddaughter).

In 1912 me boys for Golden Bay set sail
With the wind about east northeast me boys, it blew a pleasant gale
Now we left Branch that sporting place
On the 25th of May To serve our master for four long months
In the place called Golden Bay

Nicholas Power being our skipper as you may understand
There’s James Mcgrath and Patrick: the next man in command
There’s Joseph Power and Arthur; their names I will pen down
And likewise Mr. Rogus; he belonged to St. John’s town

Now we are here this three long weeks
It grieves our heart full sore And out there in the sweater[1] Cove
There lives three hundred more
We are as fine a crowd of men
As ever sailed o’er the ground
And you may hunt in foreign lands
And our betters can’t be found

Two more young men my boys from Branch they did set sail
They were only a short while stationed here when they picked up a whale
They towed her into the Wester Cove
and said he was safe and sound
And swore they would not let him go
No less than 30 pounds

They telegrammed for a whaler
The truth to you I’ll tell
And before she got to Redland Point
They could not stand the smell

Now when the whaler hove in view
Jack’s spirit it rose high
And slapped his companion on the back
We’ll do it by and by

They rose off to the whaler
Like two brave seamen bold
And they swore they should be paid right down with 30 pounds in gold

Now Captain Smith he walked the deck
Those very words did say
But 30 pound for a rotten whale
We’ll never clear our way
And when the whaler turned to them
They got a great surprise
The people ashore will laugh at us
We’ll have to tell them lies

Now when they landed on the rock
The crowd assembled there
And asking Joe about the whale
Sure Joe, he began to swear
So now the whaler she is gone
And I have no more to say
May the curse of hell be on the whale
And likewise Golden Bay.


[1] Editor’s note: Likely a transcription error. In the next verse, ‘Wester Cove’ is referenced. Wester Cove is located in Golden Bay.