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The Anchor

© Matthew Moeller 2004


Made from the finest iron ore

From the mountains so far from shore

From shank to bill with the finest of skill

Worked the craftsmen at the forge

Built to last and to hold fast

The anchor was fashioned with pride

Brought to the quay on launching day

And hoisted aboard at high tide


Hold fast old friend hold fast again

The tempest is raging wild

Hold fast old friend hold fast again

I depend on you for my life


Carried far under distant stars

And bathed in a salt sea spray

Lowered down to the hold ground

And held for many a day

In golden sands in foreign lands

Kept all safe and sound

And came back aboard with nary a word

Once more outward bound


Cargoes were carried and Lord, it was merry

To hear the sailor’s song

They came and they went the spry and the bent

All looking for where they belonged

The skippers and mates and the desperate straights

We found ourselves in at times

But fate takes a turn and friendship learns

That life doesn’t change with the tide


Now we’re both old and may be sold

To head for the ship breaker’s dock

Together we’ll go even to show

We come from the finest stock

And though we may pray there will come a day

When the cable between us will part

But until then my old friend

Hold me once again

Bound for Hell

Matthew Moeller © 2004


Through the thick Cape Flattery fog

Comes a tug towing a raft of logs

Heading for a mill in Puget Sound

The skipper is in the pilot house

The cook is making pork lobscouse

And the engineer is wearing a frown


Skipper you drive this tug too hard

She’s old and bound to fly apart

This pilot house is going to be your grave

The boiler is old and bound to blow

Skipper, do you hear what I say?


But the skipper wouldn’t turn aside

He had to make the mill by daylight

But in the morning a gale began to blow

Cut to tow, it’s a heavy swell!

The skipper growled I’ll see you in hell

The cook hid in his bunk down below.


Against the storm the tugboat strained

Against the wind and the driving rain

Until the engineer to the skipper cried

You’ll kill us all you damned old fool!

I ain’t gonna die just to suit you!

Ease up! Damn your hide!


An hour later the towline snapped

Above the wind he heard the crack

Still the skipper stood his ground

The deckhand and the cook both prayed

They’d live to see another day

When down below rose an ominous sound


In Everett town they heard that day

Above the cry of the wind and spray

The boiler of the tug give it’s last

The log of the tow lay on the shore

Of the skipper and his tug, they saw no more

Blown to Hell in the boiler’s blast

The Clamshell Line

Matthew Moeller © 2005


What’s that coming down the track it’s

Making smoke and a hellavu racket

Chugging up along the coast

Freight car coach and tender

City folk smoke and cinders

The only train that can boast

To go…


North from Illwaco depending on the tide

All the way to Oysterville it’s just a little ride

On the Clamshell Line


Illwaco, Seaview,

Longbeach and Klipsan too

Any place they flag ‘em down

Fisher folk and city spenders

Stack of wood for the tender

“When will we get to town?”

They go…


Farmer Browns and rubbernecks

Ride the train to see the wrecks

That sometimes comes ashore

Folks come from far away

Portland town, Elliot Bay

To see the wonders there before

They go…


Astoria steamer comes to town

If it don’t run aground

Depending on the tide

Schedules change with the lunar

“No, you can’t get there sooner

Just enjoy the ride.”

Dirty Old Bugger

Matthew Moeller © 2011


Our Mate’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!

He’s a lousy old Turk that makes us work

And “All hands on deck!” is his favorite call!

Our Mate’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!


Our Bosun’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!

The girls all hate him. The Mate berates him.

And his brain is very, very small!

Our Bosun’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!


Our Cook is a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!

His eyes are pink and his breath it stinks

And his stew would kill the Apostle Paul!

Our Cook is a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!


Our Second’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!

He’ll kick and he’ll curse, but what is worse

Is when he wants to be your “pal”!

Our Second’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!


Our Captain’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!

The Devil take him and his closest kin

The First Mate that we love so well!

Our Captain’s a dirty old bugger!

We don’t like him at all!


The Flyer
Matthew Moeller © 2004

Out from the shoreline away from the trees
Pushing up the channel heading up the breeze
Smoke stack black as the soot goes flying around
Chugging up from south Sound ladies in their gowns
Pulling in the dock and the whistle blowing down
Buy another round the Flyer’s back in town

It’s a steamboat’s life as she sails back and forth
Heading up and down the Puget Sound
Out from the shoreline away from the trees
Pushing up the channel heading up the breeze
Buy another round the Flyer’s back in town

Out on the water making her way
Knife edge bow is cutting the waves
Seattle to Tacoma by the clock
Set your watch as she passes by
Gone again in a blink of an eye
Buy another round the Flyer’s back in town

A beautiful boat from stem to stern
Big steam engine with wood to burn
Triple expansion, top of the line
Four runs a day rain or shine
Fancy menu for you to dine
Buy another round the Flyer’s back in town

The Flyer made four runs a day
From Tacoma Town to Elliot bay
An hour forty minutes flat, that’s a fact
When times were bad she had good luck
Never made more wake than a duck
Buy another round the Flyer’s back in town

All things must come to an end
So is the same for our steamer friend
Done in by the automobile
She ended her days in a funeral pyre
Lots can still remember the flyer
Buy another round the Flyer’s back in town



© 2007, 2020 Matthew Moeller


Faded blue jeans rolled up to her knees

See Frankie dancing down on the beach

Laughing to the tune of the evening tide

A summery smile and arms out wide


Dance Frankie dance,

Dance on the beach

Forever twirling

Just out of reach

And sail away

On a bright new day!


All knees and elbows in a strawberry world

Flashing green eyes and auburn curls

Seashells found in the warm soft sand

Run to the store and back again


Always got her nose stuck in a book

Frankie knows how to bait a hook

Down to the earth as the grass so green

Runs like the wind in the best dreams


Tall sun flowers and new mowed hay

Pig-tailed clouds sailing over the bay

But Frankie don’t care she’s just sighs

Floating away in her own dreamy sky

Jimmy the Crimp

Matthew Moeller © 2005


My name is Jimmy the Crimp and I roam along the shore

You never want to see me hanging around the door

I’m hunting for sailors, drunkards and more

I sell them to the ships by the head or by the score


Would you like to be a sailor, lad?

The work really isn’t bad

Fifty dollars a month, you’re living high

Only on a coasting trip

In a well found sailing ship

Trust me lad, I’d never lie.


A ship comes into harbor from a port far or near

I tempt away the sailors with women and beer

They jump their ship for promises of gold and of wine

In the morning find themselves back on the stormy brine


Fifty dollars a head, that’s one month’s pay

I get for sending drunken fools out upon the sea

They work hard for that one month and never get a dime

The price paid in port for a sailor’s good times


In Port Townsend, Limey Dirk is known to ship a corpse

Jim Turk in Portland is rumored to be worse

Max Levi is the toughest by far

Be careful if you meet him no matter where you are


So watch your sons and husbands, your brothers and your kin

You never know when, I’ll be coming ‘round again

There are ships that are wanting men my fee they will not scrimp

I’m the scourge of the waterfront, my name is, Jimmy the Crimp!

The Black Gang

Matthew Moeller © 2011


Never the sun, never see the rain

We’re the Black Gang!

‘Never gonna see our souls again

We’re the Black Gang!

Bang your shovel on the furnace door

Jump back quick as the hellfire roars

We’re the Black Gang!


Swing and heave!

It’s hotter than Hell’s own fire.

Its coal dust we breathe.

Steam pressure rising higher…


Way down below shoveling pain

We’re the Black Gang!

Never gonna wash clean again

We’re the Black Gang!

The fire is hot and steam we got

To heave them pistons down and up

We’re the Black Gang!


Long ago sailors all know

Ships only needed wind to go

In Progress name the black clouds came

Nothing will ever be the same


The Devil may come from down below

So does the bunker coal

The hotter is gets, the more we sweat

But the Devil ain’t gonna get us yet.


We feed the fire of the big machine

The flaming heart of the soulless thing

You don’t see us wearing chains

We’re all slave to the fire’s flame

Eliza Anderson

© 2014 Matthew Moeller


Come all you folks and gather ‘round

While I tell you about a boat named


People say she steamed her way

Across history, old


Launched late in Fifty-eight

On the Columbia was


Paddlewheels on both sides

She was one of Portland’s Pride



Blow, that whistle, blow,

Roll, Eliza, roll,




Then up north on Puget Sound

For the profits to be found, went


There were crowds of people and the mail

Barrels, crates and bales aboard


It didn’t matter north or south

Whatever was her route, went


She was kinda gaudy, not so fast

Cheap to run and built to last



The years were long they were many

That old boat made a fair penny


Other boats they were faster

But none of them could out last her


Time and tide will have their way

Still the old girl stayed and stayed


Round and round, up and down

All over the Puget Sound went



Then in Nome they found gold

Though she was tired and old went


But Alaskan storms broke her heart

She began to fall apart, poor


So they left her and ran away

Eliza had her day


In cold Dutch Harbor she still sits

Just keel and ribs above the silt



Blow, that whistle, blow,

Roll, Eliza, roll,




Duc1 (1).jpg


Matthew Moeller © 2005



Way out west in this great land


There lives one helluva clam


Had the misfortune, had the bad luck


To be called a geoduc


Now it might be gooey, but it ain’t no bird


It’s big it’s ugly it looks absurd


To dig one up takes all that you got


To bring it on home and put it in the pot



Geoduc! It ain’t no bird


Geoduc! It looks like…haven’t you heard?


Geoduc! Who cares what it’s name is


Geoduc! It looks just like a…




It’s shell is small it’s neck is long

Man, it just goes on and on

They live in the sand and you never see ‘em

Low tide muck (yuck!) you wouldn’t want to be one

To dig one out takes lots of grit

Guts and fire and full of spit

You reach right down and grab a hold.

And pull and pull and pull and pull…


Now if you’re lucky to dig one out

Don’t jump and cheer and wave it about

Men will cry and women faint

If they think you got what you ain’t

Just take it on home and use it in chowder

Or fritters or sushi it really don’t matter

Invite your friends from far and near

To come on over for clam and beer


Now there’s lots of stories I could tell

Of geoducs digging down to hell

Of folks that dig ‘em and folks that eat ‘em

Folks that never even seen one

But way up here in the great Northwest

Where the living is simply the best

Geoduc fritters with fries on the side

Will make you as happy as a clam at high tide

New Hope.jpg

The New Hope Cafe

© Matthew Moeller 2004


D                   G

Rise up early before the rest

D               G        D

The Sun’s not up, the wind’s in the West

F#m                  G                       A

A cup of coffee by the old wood stove

Bm                                          G

The promise of the ocean you hope to keep

D               G        D

Your wife and kids are fast asleep

G                                     A                   D

A fisherman’s coat hangs by the kitchen



F#m                   G

Damn the suits, damn the ties

D             G                              D

Damn the bosses and all their lies

G                                 A          D

Give me a fisherman’s tale any day

F#m                                G

To hell with an office, to hell with the clock

D           G                 D

Give me place on the fisherman’s dock

G                          A              D

And a spot at the New Hope Cafe



Down at the New Hope you find a seat

You greet everyone that you meet

You know everyone and they know you

The was a time when there were more

Than a handful of boats along the shore

Now days, there’s just too damn few


You cast off the lines you’re on your way

Another day fishing out on the bay

Bound and determined not to lose the past

But the fish aren’t there so you head for home

The hold is empty dry as a bone

The day is gone the light’s fading fast


Back in the harbor home again

The hour don’t matter to a fisherman

Still you know your time’s ‘bout run

Tomorrow may be better and you’ll make your haul

Or the day after that, who can tell

The season has just begun.


Matthew Moeller © 2004


I am the last of the salmon fleet

That moored at the foot of Ballard street

Not the biggest boat to be found

Small enough to be worked by one

Bi enough to get the job done

Last of the breed on the Puget Sound


I have tales of fish so big

They broke the back of the derrick rig

Bigger fish than you’ll ever see

Standing waist deep in the hold

Were fishermen in silvery gold

The finest times there’ll ever be


Up in the morning before the sun

Diesel engine jugging along

Tap your toes to the piston beat

Set the line in the cold clear water

Say a prayer ‘cause you think you ought to

Working hard, with the rest of the fleet


The bells start ringing the gurdies humming

The biggest catch is what you’re praying

Hoping for the season’s best

Back strains hard to pull it in

Fishing this good should be a sin

Work hard today and take a rest


The day came when the fish were gone

The rest of the fleet, they moved on

Though most of them ended on the beach

Unwanted and too old to pay

No longer working out on the bay

Out of time and out of reach.


I sit here now at the dock

A memory of times forgot

The last ray of a setting sun

But I wish I wasn’t all alone

That the salmon fleet was coming home

Fish holds full once again

Do You Remember

Matthew Moeller


Do you remember the dark starry nights at sea?

And do you remember how it felt to be free?

Running in the Trades clouds of sail overhear,

Sunsets in the Tropics glimmering the brightest red.

Oceans full of memories of days when we were young,

Life full of living and songs to be sung.

Always looking forward. Knowing where we’ve been.

Hoping to pass this way once a again.


Do you remember the saucy girls of South Spain?

And do you remember falling in love again?

Dancing to the lively tunes the fiddler learned to play.

Hanging around the shore of Valparaiso Bay.


Do you remember freezing off Cape Horn?

Wishing with all our hearts we never been born.

Frozen sails and rigging, frozen hands and toes,

Waiting to hear eight bells struck to go below


Do you remember sailing homeward bound?

The wind in the rigging making a joyous sound.

Families, friend and sweethearts rejoiced in our return.

Sea bags on our shoulders, money in our pockets to burn.


Do you remember coming ashore for good?

The sailing ships had vanished we never understood,

That the years go sailing past as wing on wing,

Knowing that we’d never ever change a thing.

Desdemona Sands

Matthew Moeller © 2005


Down upon the shifting sands

Hard upon the cruel land

A ship lies dying in the waves

The Wheel of Luck has made a turn

As the surf sweeps her stem to stern

Pulling her down to a watery grave


A light house isn’t any good

To a sailing ship made of wood

Hard aground on a falling tide

Say your prayers sailor lad

A drowning death is very bad

As the waves take you, over the side


The call goes out to the lifeboat crew

To try and do what they could do

To save those still an board

They fire the gun to shoot the line

But it falls short every time

As the surf pounds along the shore


Up in the rigging the sailors climb

Trying hard to forestall the time

When the sea exacts it’s awful price

Up high where the seabirds fly

Clouds scudding across the sky

Down below is death as cold as ice


Morning comes the storm is gone

A sailor stands all alone

In the remains of his once proud ship

His mates have all paid the price

The sea demands for their pride

Gone now in the sand’s cruel grip

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