Sailin' the Mac on Lake Michigan
Everyone who goes down to the Lake in (sail)boats, knows that sailing is the greatest sport, that racing is the greatest way to do it, and that the greatest race on Lake Michigan, our "fresh water sea", is the Mac. It runs about 330 miles on its most direct route and ends up on Mackinac Island just inside the top of Lake Huron. Lake Michigan honors the event with some of its most interesting weather ranging from boringly calm to fiercely challenging.

As a major race, the Mount Gay Rum people issue one of their famous red hats with their logo and the name of the race on the front. The hats are prized among sailors, the older, more sun-bleached and beat up, the better. We thought it deserved its very own lakefaring ballad, and it had to include the red Mount Gay sailin' hat in a prominent place. As a writer, we know its important to copyright things, and as a sailor, we know its important to share shanties, so permission is hereby granted to Lake Michigan sailors to sing our ballad to their heart's content.

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Verse 1
Verse 2
Verse 3
Verse 4
Verse 5
Verse 6
Verse 7
Verse 8
Verse 9
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Sailin' the Mack
(a Lakefaring ballad by Lou deMartelly)
(tune of Bell Bottom Trousers) © 2002-2010

  1. We set out from Chi-cag-o abound for Mack-in-ac
    Forty hours to sail us there, four days to get us back
    The wind, she blew from off the bow, the waves were rolin' in,
    We hoisted up the number three and reefed the mains'l in.

    Chorus:
    Singin' the red Mont Gay sailin' hat, yella' foulies too,
    Let 'im jump the halyard like 'is daddy used ta' do.
    next

  2. The wind, she got to twenty knots, the waves were four feet tall,
    Then about the second watch, we came upon a squall.
    The shrouds they sang, the sheets they strained, the boat heeled hard to port
    The skipper called to reef again, we readied for the sport.
  3. Chorus next

  4. The skipper called 'All hands on deck,' the bunks all emptied out.
    The helmsman cranked the wheel to wind, 'Prepare to come about'.
    The halyard eased the sail came down, the reef was gathered in.
    The ties were in the reef was done, we brought her on the wind.
  5. Chorus next

  6. The boat she plowed through wave and trough, the water crashed on deck,
    The cockpit flowed with water, the rain came down our neck.
    Our speed picked up to eighteen knots, we sailed that way all night.
    The sun came up next morning, no other boats in sight.

    Chorus next

  7. The skipper took position, 'We're nearly half way there'.
    We looked about our battered boat for tell tale signs of wear.
    We took out all the double reefs and hoisted back the main,
    Now its time to tack my boys, so lets protect our gain.

    Chorus next

  8. The wind, she failed as on we sailed, the lake was calm and flat,
    Out boat speed dropped b'low half a knot and on that spot we sat.
    The bowman yelled, 'The water's dark 'bout twenty boat lengths out.
    If we steer the boat to port, we'll sail without a doubt.

    Chorus next

  9. We crossed the darkened water, the sails they ceased to luff.
    We tacked 'er off to starboard, and we were sailing tough.
    The jib was trimmed, the back stay set, the crew hiked out to wind.
    The tell tails streamed, the boat she screamed, the main was sheeted in

    Chorus next

  10. Passing the committee tent, we heard a welcome gun.
    The race was done, the trophy won, we'd finished number one.
    The boat was safely moored to dock, the sails were stowed within,
    A spot of rum, a job well done, our party to begin.

    Chorus next

  11. Oh if you sail the Mac, my boys, precautions you must take,
    For oft the careless sailor meets his doom upon the lake.
    Practice well your M-O-B, wear life preservers too.
    For if you don't respect the lake, she'll be the doom of you.
  12. Verse 1

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