Singing with the Bilge Rats

Where else in America but St. Augustine can you walk into a tavern dating back to the early 1700’s and listen to a bunch of people dressed in authentic colonial clothing singing rowdy rounds of sea shanties? A woman I work with at the wine shop is in a singing group called the Bilge Rats, and they sing sea shanties, or old sailors tunes. Cap’t K and I have been wanting to learn some sea shanties to round out our sailor knowledge, so we were happy to go see them last night at the Tavern of the Rooster.

What a lovely way to end a long boring day at work!!! Cap’t K met me at the wine shop at closing time, and we walked down St. George St., a charming pedestrian street, for a few blocks to the Tavern of the Rooster, where you could hear the acapella songs from outside. We squeezed ourselves into the tiny tavern and got the last two seats at the bar. Hot spiced wine is their specialty, and so we ordered two glasses and started to sing along with the refrain of the sea shanties.

Hot mulled wine by candlelight

The Tavern of the Rooster is a simple, small stone building in the Old Spanish Quarter. It has no electric lights and everything looks authentically colonial, down to the handmade wooden games at the bar. The Bilge Rats provided song sheets for everyone to be able to sing along. Delightful!!

The Bilge Rats, by candlelight

Some of you may even have heard one of the more famous ones….it goes a little like this:
What do you do with a drunken sailor?
What do you do with a drunken sailor?
What do you do with a drunken sailor, early in the mornin?

Put him in the long boat and make him bail it.
(repeat many times)
Put him in the bilge and make him drink it
Hang him by his toes from the rigging

Stick him in the cabin with the Captains daughter

And a bunch more verses that I still need to memorize, but you get the idea!

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