Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: the truth behind the nation’s favourite maritime poem

Your latest challenge was to recast John Masefield’s ‘Sea Fever’ in light of the news that the poet suffered from acute sea sickness. In his book Sea Fever, Sam Jefferson relates how as an apprentice seaman aboard the Gilcruix, the unfortunate Masefield was struck down by a brutal bout of mal de mer. A diary entry recorded the full horror: ‘I was faint, clammy, helpless, weakly wishing for death or dry land.’ This was a hugely popular comp and there were lots of skilful, witty and well-made entries (though with a fair, if not unsurprising, degree of repetition). Those that nearly made the cut include Jerome Betts, Albert Black, A.H. Harker, Martin John, Walter Ancarrow, Iggy McGovern, Neil Rowson, William Casement, Jennifer Moore and Laurie Fitzpatrick. The winners, printed below, earn £35 each and the bonus fiver belongs to John Whitworth.

John Whitworth I would go down to the sea again but the waves       just makes me sick. If I go afloat in a rocking boat then I throw up       double quick. So we might nip out for a glass of stout to the       pub around the corner, But the salt-sea rave of the wildering wave and       its keening avifauna…?

No. I must bide by my own fireside in my flat in       Ponder’s End, With a Chinese Chicken Takeaway to share with       a special friend, With a pot of tea and a DVD and the radiators       humming; What we like the most is we’re warm as toast       whatever weather’s coming.

A sailor’s life is all storm and strife, his ways are       wild and whacko, The whores, the booze, the strange tattoos, the       stink of shag tobacco.

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