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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1 (April 1, 1935)

Sea Sauce

Sea Sauce.

And here, on the other side of the wharf, dipping her sawn-off bowsprit to the greasy swell, is a bulgy, blunt-nosed, slab-sterned, flat-bottomed relic of the days before the sea dogs slipped their earthly leashes and shipped aboard the celestial bark for the eternal voyage. Her two masts are stumpy, and her soiled sails are wrapped about her booms. A ship such as this, with the addition of a castle poop, may have taken Columbus across the seas to discover the land of the three D's—dollars, deals and doughnuts. But there is something sailorly and salty about her—something sea-sousy and saucy. Apart from the metallic contraption in her bowels which is called an engine, but which looks like a baker's oven with ambitions, she is one of the “white-wings” and she has the novelty of the good old-fashioned girl (almost extinct) that she is. You can see her burying her stem deep in the frothy rollers like Dockside Dora of old, dipping her nose into a schooner of rum-and-porter. There is a scent of tar in her breath and a hint of devil-may-care in her rolling gait. She looks as if all her cargo should be kegs and barrels; by rights there should be a teak brass-bound salt-horse tub abaft the mainmast, and a brass cannon at her stern.

It is easy to picture her slipping into a blue lagoon where the parakeets are screaming and the white gulls swooping and crying around her truck. Such is the prompting of Imagination, but dull Truth tries to compel Common Sense to admit that she chugs and staggers from port to port with her abdomen heavy with cement and galvanised iron. But why admit it?

“Bears snuffling to their winter beds.”

“Bears snuffling to their winter beds.”

It's not what she is, but all that she suggests—

A snow-white bird to skim the ocean crests,

Adventuring among the isles of dreams It's not the ship she is, but what she seems.

You see her bravely heeled, with scuppers churning

The torquoise waves her questing prow is spurning;

You see her skipper gallant, legs out-spread,

Who spins the wheel to take her by the head;

You hear the mournful cry that sailors know,

Blown down from up aloft, a long “la-a-a-nd ho!”

Perhaps the Jolly Roger's at her truck,

The while she sends a parting shot, for luck,

Across the bow of some wide-bellied cruiser,

Which, knowing it is vain, yet still pursues her.

The scenes her barrel sides cause you to dream,

Are pictures from the mystic Might-have-been.