The Vessel Belle

I was just a small little country girl,
From P.E. Island shore.
My Father was a Sea Captain
On the waters I adored.

So when I reached the age of ten,
My Father said to me,
“You are now a big girl, Maggie,
You may come on this trip with me.”

At first my Mother hesitated,
Then said that I may go,
So I threw my arms around Daddy
Because I loved him so.

Soon we were sailing out towards the light
Oh, how I loved the ocean when no land was in sight.
Then I could stand by Daddy
And watch the waves at night.

And when we were safely into port
Once more he would say to me,
“Now get dolled up, Maggie,
And well see what we can see.”

We would go to the Salvation Army
I loved the music so;
Then we might go shopping,
Or sometimes to a show.

And soon the vessel was unloaded
And loaded up once more,
And everything was ready
To start for home once more.

It was late in the season
And Christmas was very near
On that December morning
But the sky was good and clear.

Soon we were underway and sailing out once more
Thinking of all the gifts we had put in store
For Mother and the other folks
When they would meet us at the shore.

But we had not sailed very far
When the winds began to blow
And then we struck a hurricane
With hail and sleet and snow.

Soon the sails were frozen stiff,
They could not make them low
So they cut away two top sails
And also a jib or so.

The storm it raged all through the day
At evening Father came below
And put me safely in the bunk,
The vessel was rolling so.

He got a heavy blanket
And tucked me in good and tight,
Now, he said, “you go to sleep
and dont be afraid tonight.”

But I stayed awake all through the night
And prayed to God that He –
Would take us safely home again,
Out of that raging sea.

My brothers feet were frozen,
And so were some of the crew;
But my Father stood behind the wheel,
To pilot the vessel through

They fought the storm all through the night
And when daybreak came once more,
We found we were entering the harbour
Near Murray River shore.

We put the flag at half-mast
So folks on shore would see
That we were having trouble
After battling the heavy sea.

Soon we saw them shove a boat
Over the ice and snow.
To get to the open water
So that they could row.

They took the frost bitten men ashore;
I also had to go,
But I did not want to leave Daddy
There in the ice and snow.

But he said, Now you just run along,
Ill be cosy as can be,
When I get the fire aburning
And have a mug of tea.

They took us to their homes that night;
I remember to this day,
How they put their feet in tubs of snow
To draw the frost away.

The next day it was nice and fine
And we set sail once more,
And soon we were safely landed
At home quite near the shore.

Mother had a big Plum pudding;
The goose was roasting slow;
She knew we would be home for Christmas
Even if the winds did blow.

They say I am a dreamer
But I can not sleep at night,
I make up these verses
Just to keep my memory bright.

But now Im on the island
I can reminisce once more
Of all the things that happened
For now Im eighty-four.

Margaretta Susannah MacKinnon (nee Jackson) 1962


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