Since winter weather isn’t exactly conducive to sitting in the cockpit and singing to the moon, we headed for the Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Md., for the regular chantey sing held the first Tuesday evening of every month. It was a howl and a half. Over a hundred salty souls filled the tavern, giving voice to a sequence of chanteys, old and new, traditional and not so, that would have done any foredeck proud.
Here’s the deal. If you know a chantey and you want to sing it, the whole room will happily join in the chorus. Wait your turn. The group leader, usually a chanteyman from the Ship’s Company (a group of hearty re-enactors who run around in scratchy wool sailor suits, even in hot weather) will point to your table and ask for a song. Don’t make eye contact unless you’re prepared to belt out all 23 verses of your favorite chantey-and they all invariably have at least 23 verses, especially when you lose track and sing some of them twice. If you decline the spotlight, you can still contribute-remember, a chantey ain’t nuthin’ without the chorus.
The Royal Mile offers a fine array of libations (many on tap) plus an excellent Celtic-themed menu (try the fish and chips). It’s located at 2407 Price Street, near the intersection of University Boulevard and Georgia Avenue (Route 97); 301-946-4511. For more about Ship’s Company, visit www.shipscompany.org on the web nearest you.