Guitar lesson for

Wellerman (Sea Shanty)

by Nathan Evans  •  Lesson #346

Video lesson

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Wellerman lyrics and guitar chords (print-friendly PDF)

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    Editor’s notes

    Hey friends, here’s a video guitar lesson and PDF chord sheet for Wellerman – the 19th century New Zealand folksong that is at the center of #ShantyTok thanks to Nathan Evans. Nathan is a Scottish artist who uploaded a video of him singing this song solo – and the duets and remixes that poured in are simply amazing. See my video to learn how to play along with Evans’ version, and most of the remixes. You will need a capo on the 3rd fret. I’ll keep things as beginner as possible, as this song is meant to be shared far and wide… don’t let that F chord stop you! Let’s do it.


    Capo 3rd fret, 96 BPM, Key of A-minor.

              Am                   Am                   Dm                       Am
        There once was a ship that put to sea...... the name of the ship was the Billy of Tea
              Am                   Am                   E                        Am
        The   winds blew up,   her bow dipped down... o blow,   my bully boys,   blow
              F                 C                         Dm                 Am
              Soon----- may the Wellerman come........ to bring us sugar and tea and rum
              F                 C                         E                  Am
              One day, when the tonguin' is done... we'll take our leave and go
            Am               Am                       Dm             Am
        She had not been two weeks from shore... when down on her, a right whale bore
            Am                 Am                      E                  Am
        The captain called all hands and swore... he'd take that whale in tow
                [ repeat chorus ]
          Am                Am                   Dm                 Am
        Before the boat had hit the water... the whale's tail, came up and caught her
            Am                    Am                            E                Am
        All hands to the side, harpooned and fought her... when she dived down below
                [ repeat chorus ]
           Am               Am                     Dm                 Am
        No line was cut, no whale was freed... the Captain's mind was not on greed
            Am                 Am                      E                Am
        But he belonged to the whaleman's creed... she took the ship in tow
                [ repeat chorus ]
            Am             Am               Dm                    Am
        For forty days, or even more... the line went slack, then tight once more
            Am                          Am               E                    Am
        All boats were lost, there were only four... but still that whale did go
                [ repeat chorus ]
           Am                     Am                      Dm                     Am                 
        As far as I've heard, the fight's still on... the line's not cut and the whale's not gone
            Am                  Am                 Dm                     Am              
        The Wellerman makes his regular call... to encourage the Captain, crew, and all
                [ repeat chorus x2, end]

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