Reuben Ranzo

There are various theories about who Reuben Ranzo was.

§         a native of the Azores of Portuguese descent (abbreviation of Lorenzo);

§         a famous hero of Denmark’s Seven Years War with Sweden in the 16th Century, Daniel Rantzau;

§         a Russian or Polish Jew – though not often found at sea, Jews were supposed not to like soap and water, they were often tailors and liked to get on in the world;

§         an American Latin “a greenhorn” – the name “Reub” is still used in the States to mean yocal or farmer.

It is said to be a favourite song of the fo’c’sle because of the innuendo directed at the officers (someone who learned navigation from a book rather than seamanship on a whaler).  

Reuben Ranzo


Oh, poor old Ruben Ranzo,
Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo
Oh, poor old Ruben Ranzo,
Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo

Oh, Ranzo was no sailor,
He was a New York tailor

He was a New York tailor
Shanghaied aboard a whaler,

The captain gave him thirty
His daughter begged for mercy

She took him to her cabin
And tried to ease his moanin'

Oh, she give him rum and water,
And a bit more than she ought to,

She gave him education
And taught him navigation

She made him the best sailor
On board that New York whaler

He married the captain's daughter

And still sails on salt water

Now he's known where’ere whale-fish blow,
As the toughest bastard on the go,