Sitting On My Behind Going Backwards

Purists say that scullers aren't on the rowing crew
Cause rowing's done with one oar, but sculling uses two
Folks like that need three oars, and the extra one should go
Just where you expect it would most affect how they row, row, row.

I got a secondhand Trimline open water shell in July 2003, but I've been rowing all my life and using a rowing machine for years. (I also have a RowCycle 3-wheeled quasi-vehicle, but it's too scarey to ride around in traffic.)
Now I row a Maas 24 in races, or the Trimline with a Frontrower for zigzagging among pilings. Reports of cruises are in the New Whatcom Rowers Yahoo group. Race results at Sound Rowers. So far I've never quite made it into the first half of the field, but I've been near the front of the second half a couple of times.
Me sitting in a rowboat
Finishing the 2003 Sound Rowers Lake Samish Salmon Row - Ron Mueller photo

Rowing Machine Chanty

I use a secondhand rowing machine that doesn't count strokes. I found it easier to row along to songs and know the strokes in each song. When I wrote a song especially for the purpose, it was so long I lost track of which verses I'd sung. I reorganized it with one verse for each letter of the alphabet, plus Ch, Sh, and Th. When I sing it in public, I cut it down to five or six of the best verses and a special one for the occasion. Here's the whole thing as of June 2008.

Row Across The Floor
The doctor said, "You're way too fat, your muscles all are slack
And if you live like this, you're gonna take a heart attack"
So I got myself a rowing machine, all for to flee my doom
But every time I row the thing, it slides around the room
If I were an Octopus, I'd row quadruple scull
I'd rip out all the sliding seats and ooze along the hull
Human beings make great machines but they don't know how to flow
You gotta pull with a tentacle to row, row, row
And it's row, row, row, row across the bedroom floor
This isn't a boat, it doesn't float, this handle's not an oar
No bosun's drum to give the stroke, no lash to make me go
But I'm over forty and overweight and I row, row, row
See the couch Potato, he's glued to his TV
He calls himself a sports fan, doesn't look that way to me
Cause sports are meant for doing, not for watching like a show
He should lose his remote and get in a boat and row, row, row
It was an Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three
He said, "The ship became becalmed, and everyone blamed me
And it's all because the albatross I shot with my crossbow
They're still there now cause they don't know how to row, row, row
Queequeg was a harpoonist, he sailed with Ahab's crew
He stood up in the longboat and he cast his weapon true
The whale destroyed the longboat and the whaling ship also
It's dangerous to stick things in Moby Dick when you row, row, row
Here's to the Bootleggers, the boys who bring the booze
In motorboats and sailboats and rowboats and canoes
The Coast Guard can't be everywhere upon the H2O
So we load the C2H5OH and we row, row, row
A whole town was condemned to die, we saw the orders leave
A whole day later, a second ship set out with their Reprieve
How they reached Mytilene in just a day, the gods themselves don't know
I think of those Greeks though I'm just a geek and I row, row, row
If you forget to feather, you're gonna Catch a Crab
You'll never get your oar out once King Neptune starts to grab
You'll go right over the side in front of everyone you know
And they're bound to say, "That's not the way to row, row, row"
Confusion to the Swimmers, their lifestyle is all wet
They claim they're getting exercise, but they never break a sweat
A hundred strokes on this rowing rack puts me in a healthy glow
I sweat till I stink but I never sink when I row, row, row
The Forfarshire was on the rocks, she heard the screaming crew
It was one missed stroke from certain death, it was what she had to do
Of how Grace Darling saved them, all England soon would know
I'm not brave but there ain't no waves where I row, row, row
Titanic hit the iceberg, that mighty ship went down
Some got into lifeboats and they left the rest to drown
Wooden heads and iron ships together should not go
Every ship that floats gotta have enough boats to row, row, row
Endorphins are the only trip the government never banned
Nobody has to sneak them in from a foreign land
No backwoods still, no basement lab, no vegetables to grow
If you wanna get stoned, gotta make your own and row, row, row
I dreamed about a U-boat, and I was in its crew
And sinking Allied shipping was the job we had to do
Till someone dropped a depth charge to crush our hull below
A man gets nervous too far from the suface to row, row, row
I bought some fancy Fish Eggs, five bucks for one small jar
The guy who made the label called it "Salmon Caviar"
But caviar comes from sturgeon, as everyone should know
It would taste the same by any name, but it's roe, roe, roe
If You want to be a Viking, there's seven things to learn
Row and row and row and row, then pillage, smash, and burn
It's tempting just to stay down South where things to eat will grow
But we might get fat and we can't have that, so row, row, row
I'm heading inland, I'm going to leave the shore
And over my shoulder I'll be carrying an oar
When someone asks me, "What's that thing?", I'll make my Garden grow
With hatchet blades and pretty maids in a row, row, row
Here's one for the Wheelers who roll around in chairs
And every place they try to go, they find a flight of stairs
When wheels get bogged down in the mud, the going's mighty slow
So take 'em offshore and give 'em oars, let 'em row, row, row
Samuelson and Harbo set out for death or glory
They left New York and headed East in a crazy open dory
They were starved and sunburned and damn near drowned, but they made it even so
Though it's too far to Norway, I might reach the doorway so row, row, row
An eXtensive crew of eXperts eXtols eXtra eXercise
Don't eXpect eXtremely eXtoverted folks to be so wise
They want ecstacy, eXcitement, an eXotic place to go
Not eXpiring from eXhaustion when they row, row, row
There's half as much fresh water as once there used to be
Before the glacier melted and undammed Lake Agassiz
The plains were underwater seven thousand years ago
They called it the Ice Age but it was a nice age to row, row, row
I've sung about a lot of folks, now here's a verse for You
You tell me rowing's half technique, I can't deny that's true
But the other half is power, you're graceful but you're slow
Gonna give you hell when I get in a shell and row, row, row
The lakes are full of JetSkis, it's growing worse and worse
To them we're only speed bumps, to us they are a curse
We blow our whistles and flash our lights, but does that sop them? No!
We should carry bazookas to blow off their tuchas and row, row, row.
The hockey players skate so hard, they soon tear up the ice
Then out comes the Zamboni, oh wouldn't it be nice
To melt the surface all smooth and fresh while drifting to and fro
If you make a mistake then the rink's a lake, gotta row, row, row
If you see a Kraken, I'll tell you what to do
Turn and row the other way and hope it won't see you
'Cause giant squids are just the kids,they're Krakens when they grow
So save your bacon, avoid the Kraken and row, row, row
The Charles River All-Stars were a bunch of rowing bums
The river started freezing and they did the ergo sums
Then headed for the great indoors where there ain't no ice and snow
When the weather's froze, keep the windows closed and row, row, row
Look at all the Lunatics in the loony bin
None of them as crazy as the ones who checked them in
They may think they're Napoleon or sit and suck their toe
But it's mighty plain they're still too sane to row, row, row.
Here's to all the sailors who work between the Sheets
They spend their hours messing round with ropes and spars and cleats
They spread their sail to catch the gale, and when the wind does blow
They go like a bomb, but when it's calm they must row, row, row
Moses split the Red Sea, said, "Let my people walk"
When Pharaoh's army followed them, they got an awful shock
So don't go walking out to sea when the water's low
When the tide has turned, you'll wish you'd learned to row, row, row
Rowing on an erg is not as boring as you Think
And when you miss a stroke it doesn't dump you in the drink
No coach or cox to prick your dream of endorphin-addled bliss
And - one more thing - you can always sing a song like this
The rain began a-fallin' when Noah was in his prime
He's the only boatbuilder ever got it done on time
Drifting to Mt Ararat took forty days or so
'Cause he hadn't the skill to teach the gorilla to row, row, row
So here's to every rower in every racing crew
The ones who crossed an ocean, those who died trying too
The heroes in the lifeboats, the galley slaves below
For a life that's long and a back that's strong I row, row, row
More verses. Jonah and Loved Ones got replaced, Frat Man is new, Exxon Valdez got put in to fill the column.
Jonah and his buddies were going for a sail
He jumped into the ocean and got swallowed by a whale
The whale then swam a thousand miles and barfed him up on shore
He wasn't crazy, just too lazy to row, row, row
Here's to all the Loved Ones who make a house a home
A place that we can dream of when we're far across the foam
When we are too long away the days go by so slow
But turn us round so we're homeward bound and we'll row, row, row
If you want to be a Frat man, not a townie or a geek
Gotta learn another alphabet, your address will be Greek
And you'll be sunk if when you're drunk you forget where you should go
The one after Pi isn't Nu or Psi, it's Rho, Rho, Rho
Oh once there was a northern coast with cold and pristine bays
When down upon the rocks there crashed a tanker named Valdez
A giant spill can kill and kill, but the end's in sight, we know
There's nothing to spoil when we're out of oil and we row, row,row