Songs in the Key of Sea

Songs in the Key of Sea - Preview

I have been sailing all my life and this most enjoyable pastime has given me a deep love of all kinds of boats, old and new, of maritime adventurers, and the sea.

I have owned and raced catamarans and trailer sailors, to larger offshore yachts. I have also lived aboard and cruised the isolated coastal waters of Australia extensively.

I have previously owned, with my husband, a Duncanson 29 named “Dorothy Lynn,” and between 1991 and 2006, a Sparkman and Stephens 34 foot (S&S 34) sloop named Roma II. I currently own and skipper Ambience, an Alan Wright designed Lotus 10.6, and enjoy racing her out of Fremantle Sailing Club, Western Australia.

Through the years I have written a collection of maritime songs, and I hope you enjoy listening to Songs in the Key of Sea as much as I have enjoyed writing these songs.

Jane Laws - Songs in the Key of Sea

Some of the Yachts in my Life

Barjadda II
Windrush 14
New Years Day 1981
Windrush 14 catamaran

Ripley II
Court 750
The Cruising Yacht Club of WA
Court 750 Yacht

Dorothy Lynn
Duncanson 29
Fremantle Sailing Club
Duncanson Yacht

Roma II
S&S 34
King George River, Kimberley, WA
S&S34 King George River

No Drama
Windrush Wildfire
The Cruising Yacht Club of WA
Windrush Wildfire

Lotus 10.6
2014 to present day
Lotus 10.6

Track Information and Lyrics

Sandy Bay Shore
I lived in Hobart, Tasmania, between 1970 and 1976. The Tasmanian Wooden Boat Festival is one of Hobart's many charms that draw me back to this magical city. While researching accommodation options around Battery Point and Sandy Bay, I fell in love with Old Hobart Town and was inspired to write, Sandy Bay Shore, a whaler's tale set in the mid 19th century.

Sandy Bay Shore

He died a hero, and she died a pauper,
And they laughed 'til they cried on Sandy Bay Shore.
Through the whale bones and the tail bones and the lost souls and the jail bones,
For love and for money they came back for more.

The Maid of Erin she took him away
For a pound and nine pennies, a whaler's fair lay.
They drank whiskey and rum at the end of the day,
'til there was nothing left only breathing.


Young men of leisure found the young girls of pleasure,
And they danced in the moonlight on Sandy Bay Shore.
And from Cat and Fiddle Alley the preacher gave out his call
He preferred to ignore closed doors.

The Maid of Erin she was carried away
In a westerly gale in Port Davey Bay.
So he sailed to rescue her cargo of greed
But all hands were lost to the sea.


She waited one hundred days, and then one hundred more,
And she looked out to sea from Sandy Bay Shore.
She drank whiskey and rum 'til she could wait no more
Then she hung out her sign ~ again ~ on her door.


ã Copyright Jane Laws 2018
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

While reading The Koolama Incident, written by Bill Loane, I was inspired to put pen to paper and write this story in song. The Motor Vessel Koolama was a Western Australian state ship that plied its trade between Fremantle and Darwin. During World War II she was attacked by Japanese aircraft in the remote Kimberley region of north Western Australia. Amazingly the passengers and crew survived, most walking several days through un-mapped bush, in searing heat, to a local Aboriginal mission. The ship limped into Wyndham, where after being attacked again, finally sunk.


The MV Koolama sails from Fremantle to Darwin,
It's 1942 and there's a war going on.
Hurricane Jack at the helm; he's been with her since the day she was born,
Ships company numbers eight-nine.
The passengers aboard have all come along for the party,
But nobody knows what they are in for.

Koolama, Koolama, How are you?
"I'm resting in old Wyndham Harbour."

Ten days from harbour the enemy finds her,
Three bombs aboard and she's taking on water.
Number four hold is full, no steerage and she's listing to starboard,
She's in danger of never being heard of.
But the sea is calm and there is no panic aboard,
The captain says, "let's run for cover."


Koolama seeks shelter in the hostile Kimberley,
The order is given to abandon ship.
Hurricane Jack stays aboard, he knows he must try and save her,
Passenger and crew camp behind the mangroves.
And Darwin can't help, for she is fighting her own battles,
So it's Kalumburu Mission to the rescue.


The sick and the injured are taken by lugger,
It is twenty-four hours before they reach Kalumburu.
Ninety-three passengers and crew prepare to walk the overland route,
With the Drysdale to cross, only the strong can survive.
But King Billy and Jimmi along to guide them to safety,
They reach the mission in five days.


The MV Koolama limps all the way to Wyndham,
The lifeboats are ready; she's awash below decks.
Disaster strikes, an attack, the crew cannot save her,
Despair as the watch her turn onto her side.
They try to refloat her; they need to free her,
But she wants to settle in the harbour.


ã Copyright Jane Laws 2003
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

Inspired by the loss of the yacht Finistere and my friends, her skipper, Rob Thomas and crewman, Paul Owens, in the Bunbury and Return Ocean Race in February 2018.


I couldn't find the right words to say
So I said nothing.
I couldn't take your pain away
So I said nothing to you.
I hope that I might see you again
So I can explain why I said nothing.

I heard the angles calling me away
And I'm sorry I couldn't find the strength to stay.
As I slipped into my watery grave
Your dreams were my dreams for you.


I'm sorry we couldn't all make it through,
And I'm sorry for what I've left you to do.
Your dreams are my dreams for you,
Let your dreams see you through.


ã Copyright Jane Laws 2018
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

Adventuring with Shackleton
This time my inspiration came from my long time hero, Sir Earnest Shackleton, and his adventures on the Antarctic Ice pack and southern seas. In 1914 Shackleton and 27 crew sailed from England on the Endurance. They were attempting to be the first to cross Antarctica on foot. The Endurance became trapped in the ice flow and eventually sunk. After tracking over the ice pack, managing to row to Elephant Island, crossing the southern ocean in a lifeboat and traversing the previously uncrossed mountains of South Georgia, Shackleton finally returned to rescue all of his men.

Adventuring with Shackleton

The Endurance leaves old England for the furthest southern land,
To be the first to cross the continent, with dog, sled, man.
The great war was just beginning when bade farewell to sweethearts, wives,
But before they reached Antarctica they are trapped in thick pack ice.

Lets go adventuring with Shackleton down to the southern sea,
With the cold ice floes, where the west wind blows, where a true old salt should be.
You may not trust him with your money but you can trust him with your life.
Lets go adventuring with Shackleton to the great Antarctic ice.

His hopes and dreams were shattered, but a great man was he,
He turned his hand to save his men from salt, ice, sea.
And he ordered Leonard Hussey to keep his old banjo.
'We'll need to hear you tinkering while marooned on the floe'.


Their ship is crushed by the ice, then she's taken by the sea,
And many months pass by before they reach Elephant Island's lee.
He'd be the first to go cold and hungry, he'd give the shirt from off his back.
He held his men together O' to serve a man like that.


The James Caird makes ready for sea, just a tiny wooden boat,
He took Worsley and four crew and they bailed to keep her afloat.
They sailed seven hundred miles of ocean in the roughest, swollen seas,
To make landfall at South Georgia and amazing small boat feat.


Now marooned on South Georgia's rough torn southern shore,
With no man there to help them, when they thought they could go no more,
He began the overland journey to save himself and all his crew.
Over mountains not crossed before, he did what few of us could do.


ã Copyright Jane Laws 2003
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

The Ghost of Wild Oats XI
The 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race saw Wild Oats XI stripped of her record breaking line honours victory because of an infringement, with Comanche, shortly after race start. To me it seemed important for folks to know how the yacht, Wild Oats XI, felt about the race result.

The Ghost of Wild Oats XI

From Sydney to Hobart Town
There's a race that's going down.
It should be mine to keep
Can't sleep.

Every race we ride,
the wind, the waves and the tide.
In hope that we might find
The fastest ride of all time.

We couldn't have known,
If the rules are broken.
We were first across the line
Not enough time.

The jury decide.
They haven't conspired.
If we'd crossed the line, in time
All mine.

From Sydney to Hobart Town
There's a race that's going down.
It should be mine to keep
Can't sleep.
I must make my peace.
This war will never cease.
The only trouble is, this ghost could live for one hundred years.

ã Copyright Jane Laws 2018
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

Sailing to the Moon
It was easy to write a song about Rolly Tasker, Australian ocean yacht racer, boat builder and sail maker, after reading Roland Perry's inspirational biography on Rolly, titled, Sailing to the Moon.

Sailing to the Moon

Every sail you'll feel the wings of a bird,
The battens are my feathers, I'm sure you've heard.
Don't expect me home anytime soon
I love you but I'm sailing to the moon.

Use the pain of losing to keep yourself on track
Always looking forward, never looking back.
I will try to win in any way I can
But only if it keeps me an honest man.

Sailing the oceans is my life's journey
There's no place in the world I'd rather be.
Some will be lost and their spirits set free
But don't be afraid for the sea is just the sea.

In every boat I've built there's a small part of me
In every sail that's filled it's my vision you see.
And now that I find I'm running out of time
There's nothing I would change, the pleasure is all mine.

ã Copyright Jane Laws 2012
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

The Spell of Acrospire IV
Sailing is one of my favourite pastimes and it was a pleasure and a privilege to write this song about one of Australia's historic sailing vessels. Built in 1929 and lovingly restored by her current owner, I always enjoy a sail aboard Acrospire IV.

The Spell of Acrospire IV

This is how they sail in heaven
She glides along like a ghost from the distant past.
If I had only one more boat to sail
Acrospire would be my last.

The first time I saw her she cast her spell upon me
And I smiled as I watched her waltzing by.
The reflection in her top sides of the crew all wearing bow ties
And her skipper dipped his cap as he caught my eye.


In the creaking of her timbers lie the voices of the sailors
Who sailed this gallant maiden through the years.
And if you listen closely to the whisper on the wind
You'll hear their cries, and their laughter and their cheers.


In a crowded harbour her graceful lines will find you
And you'll wonder where she’s been and where she’s going to.
As she sails over the horizon, her silhouette will haunt you
And you will long to ask if she remembers you.


ã Copyright Jane Laws 2011
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

Wings to Fly
Inspired by the Solo 1 Project, where Jamie Dunross, Sydney Paralympic Gold Medallist, planned to attempt a solo world circumnavigation aboard his Sparkman & Stephens 34 foot sloop, Spirit of Rockingham. In 2010 Jamie became the first person with quadriplegia to circumnavigate Australia. When Jamie came home he retired from long ocean passages and now works with Sailability, providing sailing opportunities for people with a disability.

Wings to Fly

Don't deny me wings to fly and do what I must do.
Don't deny me while I'm here the chance to see it through.
And if I leave you crying,
If I leave you asking why,
Please don't deny me wings to fly.
Deep in your heart you know that I can not stay home,
Try not to worry when you think of me alone.
You will see me frightened,
I don't live in fear,
Just move to the distant drum I hear.
Although it may be difficult you need to let me go,
To further my life's journey and help myself to grow.
You will see me praying
Where does the will come from?
My restless spirit just drives me on.
There will be times when it's encouragement I need,
And other times only your love to succeed.
You will see me struggle
And fight the ebbing tide,
I must go on or die inside.

ã Copyright Jane Laws 2003
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

My song, Seaflight, which I wrote in 1996 while David was on his record breaking sea journey, holds a special place in my heart as it was the song that started to open doors for me as a folk singer. Seaflight is a tribute to lone sailor David Dicks, who in 1996 became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop around the world.


It's February '96, the Seaflight, sails from home.
It's the start of a great adventure,
To be the youngest to sail around alone.
Then we hear some sad news,
The Seaflight's on her way back.
It must have taken a great deal of courage.
Sometimes the hardest choice is changing your tack.
But, the project doesn't loose direction.
Repairs are completed before too long,
And the Seaflight heads back over the horizon.
The adventure only just begun.

Some say it just ain't right,
That you should have headed out all alone.
But from where I stand your courage,
Brings so much hope to those left here at home.
You've been singled out like Chichester,
And Cottee and Sanders before.
And I bet it ain't the last time,
You play adventurer for us all.

Then the photographs arrive from the Falklands.
And proudly written on the hull,
are the names Mum, Harold, Jon and Robin
I guess they are the ones you love the most.
And there is one of officer Taylor,
machining your much needed bolts.
You can see in his eyes,
You've touched his heart, You've touched his soul.
Then there's Seaflight, sailing into the sunset,
She looks lonely, she looks serene.
And my heart is filled with admiration,
When I remember your only seventeen.


There are many people following your progress.
Most of us you will never meet.
And we're starting to get a little excited,
Your journey is over half complete.
And when we are planning our next destination,
I've often heard people say
"The only thing to do is batten down the hatches,
And go the David Dicks way".
So in your quiet moments,
When your thoughts turn to home.
You can be sure in heart and in spirit,
Your not sailing on alone.


ã Copyright Jane Laws 1996
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

The Subjects of my Songs

Maid of Erin
sandy bay shore - maid of erin

Maid of Erin - Hobart Wharf
sandy bay shore - maid of erin - hobart wharf


Koolama at the Docks

Sir Earnest Shackleton
Sir Earnest Shackleton

Dragging the James Caird
across the ice
Sir Earnest Shackleton James Caird

Endurance in the ice at night
Endurance Sir Earnest Shackleton

Wild Oats XI & LDV Comanche - Protest
wild oats XI - ldv comanche - Sydney to Hobart protest

Wild Oats XI
wild oats XI Sydney to Hobart

Wild Oats XI & LDV Comanche approaching the finish line
wild oats xi Sydney to Hobart

Rolly Tasker (left) after race victory in
1956 Melboure Olympics
rolly tasker -1956 melbourne olympics

Rolly Tasker's Siska
rolly tasker - siska

Rolly Tasker
rolly tasker

Tasker's Sail Loft
rolly tasker - sail loft

Acrospire IV
Acrospire IV

Jane on the helm of Acrospire IV
acrospire iv - jane laws

Acrospire IV - Fremantle Harbour Race
acrospire iv - fremantle harbour race

S&S 34 Spirit of Rockingham
jamie dunross - spirit of rockingham S&S34

Jamie Dunross
jamie dunross - spirit of rockingham S&S34

S&S 34 Spirit of Rockingham
jamie dunross - spirit of rockingham S&S34

S&S 34 Seaflight
seaflight - David Dicks

David Dicks and Jane
the day David arrived home in Fremantle
David Dicks and Jane Laws Seaflight

S&S 34 Seaflight
near Falkland Islands, South Atlanic
seaflight - David Dicks

Seaflight's homecoming,
Fremantle Harbour
Sound check, tens of thousands of people, live TV coverage
seaflight David Dicks - jane Laws sound check