7964 Oakwood Park Ct. St. Michaels, MD 21663
I bought an audio cassette at a music store in St. Johns,
Newfoundland because it included a song with that intriguing title.
Make & Break Harbor is sung by Stan Rogers with violin, guitar,
bass, and vocal accompaniment.
In New found land, an old one-lung marine engine is called a
‘make & break’ engine even if it has a spark plug. The
song is a lament for the passing of small fishing boats and the
rise of the great trawlers.
Here are the words, with permission of the Fogarty’s Cove
How still lies the bay in the light western airs
Which blow from the crimson horizon.
Once more we tack home with a dry empty hold
Saving gas with the breezes so fair.
She’s a kindly Cape Islander, old but still sound
But so lost in the long liner’s shadow;
Make and break and make do, for the fish are so few
That she won’t be replaced should she founder.
It’s so hard not to think of before the big war
When the cod went so cheap but so plenty.
Foreign trawlers go by now with farseeing eyes
Taking all, where we seldom take any.
And the young folk don’t stay with the fishermen’s
Long ago, they all moved to the cities.
And the ones left behind, old, tired, and blind
Can’t work for ‘a pound for a penny.’
In Make and Break Harbor the boats are so few
Too many are pulled up and rotten.
Most houses stand empty, the nets hung to dry
And blown away, lost, and forgotten.
I can see the big draggers have stirred up the bay
Leaving lobster traps smashed on the bottom.
Can they think it don’t pay to respect the old ways
That Make and Break men have not forgotten?
For we still keep our time to the turn of the tide
And this boat that I built with my father
She still lifts to the sky! The old one-lunger and I
Still talk like old friends on the water.