Early morning Christmas Eve - preparing for the day
“Ho ho” said old Cory’s - “ you have to go away,
There’s a ship out there in trouble and the weather's pretty vile
A Dutchman’s lost his rudder and the Captain's lost his smile,”

Six good men were called up, and hauled away from bed
We rushed and manned the Portgarth up and sailed just on the ebb,
Steaming West at a rate of knots and baro. falling fast
Southerly gale upon the beam and spray above the mast,

M.V.Harns off Hartland Point, begging for a tow
Portgarth rolling wildly and seventy miles to go,
Two thousand tons of cargo ship and a load of steel as well
Wallowing there ahead of us hiding in the swell,

Horseshoe rocks abeam now, and our quarry is in sight
Riding to the weather and in a sorry plight,
Contact made on V.H.F. and Coast guard told the story
Making fast in storm force ten and the wind in constant fury,

Risking lives or broken limbs the chance we had to take
Get her home for Christmas lads or the holiday's at stake,
With hearts in mouths and lifebelts on we have our just reward
She takes a lurch and throws us all but we have a line aboard,

We pay out our wire and turn her round, and head on East by South
Bit by bit we’re winning now into the Channels mouth,
Wind and tide on quarter as the tow takes on a sheer
A tugman`s hell but we’re losing swell as the Devon coast draws near,

The job still fraught the line comes taught as we run the Easting down
All looks well but it’s hard to tell as nightfall brings a frown,
Three hours to flow, high spring tide and a storm force wind on hand
Hazards ahead - One Fathom Bank and the dangerous Culver Sand,

Disaster strikes the wire parts - “Captain, anchor down,”
- M.V. Harns is safe for now, at East Culver holding ground,
Portgarth`s gear is all a mess with spring jammed off the drum
The forward winch as well `kaput` - it’s what the weather’s done,

Head South now - Blue Anchor Roads so we may work on deck
Sheltered from the worst of it but hailstones down our neck,
It’s Christmas morn and we are sworn to bring this coaster in
Repair the wire and return to it - we are going to win,

Made fast again as daylight comes we surely have her now
But the cable cuts as the lead just rips and slices on her bow,
A tug came out of Cardiff with the Welshman’s dauntless crew
They also had a line aboard but parted two by two,

Another tug from Newport passed a brand new spring
Yet again we parted with a now familiar ring,
Then they sent Point Gilbert down - dancing all the way
Still atrocious weather, on this our Christmas day,

Sorted out our for`d winch and we'd spliced the line up tight
Also mended fax machine and the phone now works all right,
The Gilbert took hold forward, well and truly fast
Portgarth with a bridle aft and on our way at last,

The Hallgarth out from Cardiff to help us to deliver
Heading up to Newport to aid us up the river,
Things were pretty fraught again, as we cleared the Middle banks
And problems near the Bell Buoy as we start to give our thanks,

Our quarter line in the Dutchman’s screw as he worked a touch astern
We cut it off and shortened up - put another out in turn,
The Gilbert sniffed the bottom which didn’t help at all
But the bow was towed from danger by the action of the Hall,

Eventually we moored her up - it was almost Boxing Day
Over forty hours without our sleep, the lads have earned their pay.
The Moral of this story - if you want your Christmas pudd-
Is never lose your rudder - or change your livelihood !
Joe Earl