Solent singing sailors raising money for charity

Vicky meets...Peter Warburton of Solent Shanty Buoys

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 2:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 3:53 pm
Solent Shanty Buoys

Who are Solent Shanty Buoys?

We are a singing group. There are five Shanty Buoys, all now retired, from various working backgrounds. Some are ex-services and all are now recreational sailors with a love of the sea.

How did the group come about?

Our sailing club booked a band for the Fitting Out Supper, but with only a few weeks’ notice the band let us down. I said I could provide some shanty singers – a bit rash as I had no idea how I was going to do it. I set about recruiting some friends who I thought could sing. We put together a set and it went surprisingly well. We decided to seek out some less common shanties and songs of the sea and try to entertain different groups as well as raise a bit of money for our chosen charity, Wet Wheels.

Tell me a bit about sea shanties and their origins

Sailing ships depended on muscle power to set sails, weigh anchors, etc. Teams of men had to work in unison so shanties were sung to keep everyone in time and also to boost morale. They were sung on merchant ships; in the Royal Navy, orders were followed in silence to the rhythm of the bosun’s whistle. They were only used at sea; not on land or for recreational purposes, because the language can sometimes be a little ‘ripe’. It was only really when people began to collect folk songs that anybody ashore paid attention to shanties.

What got you into singing and singing shanties in particular?

Most of us have been singing off and on for a long time. We chose shanties because of the sailing connection, but also because they are obviously communal. Our aim is always to get the audience involved as much as possible, so we teach choruses and often provide song sheets so people can join in. The audience is part of the performance really. Once they get singing some rousing choruses it lifts the spirits; we hope to raise the very high roof at the Guildhall.

What can audiences expect at the Guildhall?

The gig is on Friday, November 15 at 7pm. The audience can expect a fun night hearing (and singing, we hope) well-known traditional shanties and songs of the sea. They’ll hear some unique songs, too, as we do write some of our own material. The Guildhall is a fabulous venue and will be really atmospheric on a dark night in November and we’ll make the most of that.

Some songs reflect the dangers and perils of the sea so it’s not all heave-ho me hearties, but these songs have their own melodic beauty and can be quite moving. So the mood will change throughout the evening, but we always finish with well-known and raucous songs to send people home happy and singing in the streets. Find out more at and book for the Guildhall at