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Crosscurrents

Preserving San Francisco’s past through sea shanties

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The Balclutha

At Maritime National Historical Park, the golden age of shantey-ing comes alive again as sailors and sea music enthusiasts gather around an ancient vessel, the "Balclutha.” Peter Kasin’s job is to preserve these ancient shanties, and in turn to preserve San Francisco’s dangerous Barbary Coast past. But not everyone likes their shanties; some say they’re more bouncy than they were in the past, and should capture the sweat of the sailors who sang these songs way back in the 1800s to help make their rough shipboard jobs a bit more rhythmic.