My novel, The Shantyman, begins with a fictionalized Bill Doerflinger recording the tale told by a retired ship’s captain of a shantyman who saved his ship and its crew. The old captain lives close to the sailor’s retirement home, Sailor’s Snug Harbor, on Staten Island, NY.
The real Bill Doerflinger did indeed record shanties in the 1930s and 1940s at Sailor’s Snug Harbor. These days, a group of lovers of the songs of the sea from around the New York metropolitan area gathers every month at Snug Harbor to sing shanties at the William Main Doerflinger Memorial Shanty Sessions. The group meets to sing the old songs in the same hall where Doerflinger recorded shanties sung by the retired sailors.
Gabriel Baron and Leia Grossman are producing a short documentary, Snug Harbor Shanties, about the shanty sessions and the singers who have been getting together for close to two decades to sing timeless songs of ships and the sea. They are raising money to complete the documentary on Indiegogo. I have donated to the cause and invite all lovers of sea shanties to join with me. Click here to learn more.