Sea shacks have long been used to pass time and act as a balm to soothe weary souls. Toppled by the isolation, misery, and lethargy of their lives, the joyous melodies keep the morale high for those at sea for months or years at a time. Sea shacks have been sung for hundreds of years by sailors from all walks of life; Pirates have sung them, British Navy officers have sung them, Vikings have sung them, and now the internet is singing them.
Recently, the melancholic lethargy of the year has been fueled by “The Wellerman”, a sea shack with its origins in 19th century New Zealand whaling practices. Since it first appeared on TikTok, the song has gone viral, sparking an explosion of interest in shanty towns, bringing people together with the same common need to lift spirits. Here are the nautical TV series that create the same sense of camaraderie, hope and joy that sea shacks bring to everyone.
10 Black sails (2014-2017)
Calling all the scoundrels, the rugged sea meadows and the bilge rats! Black candles is the pirate series you were waiting for. It focuses primarily on a young Captain Flint, whose buried treasure is at the center of Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece “Treasure Island,” as well as the infamous John Silver, who tried to claim it for himself. Other characters in Stevenson’s novel include Billy Bones and Ben Gunn, and there are historical characters included, such as Anne Bonny and Blackbeard.
The legendary figures find themselves with the British Navy and the Spanish Navy at the helm during the Golden Age of Piracy, when the West Indies were joined by assassins and thieves trying to loot and plunder their next fortunes. Many sea huts are sung throughout its three exciting seasons.
9 Hornblower (1998-2003)
Based on the novels by CS Forester, whose marine bibliography includes the acclaimed “Master and Commander” series, Hornblower follow the idealistic and fearless Horatio Hornblower as he rises from humble midshipman to captain during the Napoleonic Wars.
The series takes place almost entirely at sea on actual ships, with Hornblower and the British Navy taking on everything from French and Spanish navies to pirates and corsairs. Little known fact: Hornblower’s adventures provided the inspiration for Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Original Series.
8 Crossbones (2014)
On the island of the Bahamas known as New Providence, the tyrannical Blackbeard rules a gang of assassins who control a tropical paradise full of marauders, mercenaries and thieves. The unique outpost threatens international sea lanes, so the British government assigns a young undercover assassin to take down Blackbeard’s operation.
Eventually, the hitman is enchanted by the infamous pirate’s philosophical ideas and shrewd politics, as well as a beautiful woman, and his mission may be compromised. Filled with swashbuckling intrigues, sword fights, and colorful characters, it’s a shame Crossbones I only had one season!
7 The Buccaneers (1956-1957)
Opening with a own sea shack, The buccaneers is a classic black and white series about adventures on the high seas aboard the Saltana, as Captain Dan Tempest and his band of buccaneers cross the ocean for 39 episodes. The series used a royal schooner, which was brought out to sea with the cast and crew.
Several traditional sea hovels were included in the series, such as the famous “Spanish Ladies” and American whaling songs, such as “Blow, Ye Winds, in the Morning”. Other recognizable songs included “Drunken Sailor”, “Haul Away, Joe”, “The Maid of Amsterdam”, “Johnny Come Down to Hilo”, “O Shenandoah”, “Shake Her, Johnny, Shake Her” and “Venezuela”. “
6 Taboo (2017)
The gripping project of Tom Hardy, who stars in and co-created the series with his father, Taboo follows the haunting James Delaney as he returns from a military tour of Africa, only to find his father murdered and his family’s shipping empire in ruins. Prepared to seek revenge against those who have wronged his family, he smashes everything that stands in his way, from the East India Trading Company to the monarchy itself.
Delaney must work quickly to rebuild her shipping lanes, build new trade routes, and create a team of willing comrades with whom to set sail again and secure her business. Along the way, there is looting, murder, sexual taboo, and even something supernatural in this stark but utterly fascinating marine saga.
5 Terror (season 1 – 2018)
The first season of the anthology series. The horror narrates Sir John Franklin, a captain in the British Royal Navy determined to discover the Northwest Passage and restore honor to a decaying naval career. He orders the HMS Erebus into uncharted territory, on a dangerous journey that brings his skeptical crew to the brink of sanity.
The ship freezes over and gets stuck in an isolated area out of reach of any help, and the men begin to wonder if they will perish due to the arrogance of one man’s dictatorial arrogance. The fight for life provokes fights between the ranks, leaving Captain Franklin with no choice but to try anything to save his men. Based on true historical events, this series takes some creative liberties, but the changes only add to the entertainment.
4 The Onedin Line (1971)
This extensive true story of nautical legend James Onedin and the building of his 19th century shipping empire in Liverpool is a gripping immersion in the daytime drama of marine life and one man’s quest for greatness. It begins with Onedin marrying Anne Webster for his ship, but over eight seasons, his ambition is tempered and a real love develops.
Praised for his genuine use of historic vessels and on-site shooting, he paints an accurate portrait of the business, socio-economic issues, and petty issues that existed in the 1860s, and doesn’t shy away from the highlights of the time. period, like slavery.
3 To the ends of the earth (2005)
A miniseries chronicling Edmund Talbot’s journey from England to Australia during the Napoleonic Wars, the young aristocrat finds himself embroiled in a heady adventure of self-discovery through danger, sex, drugs, love, all on the high seas.
Based on the Williams Golding novel trilogy of the same name, the series used two huge ships built specifically for the production and was shot in South Africa to create its tropical feel.
two Sea Lion (2009)
Based on Jack London’s 1904 novel of the same name, sea Wolf is a miniseries that follows a poetry critic named Humphrey van Weyden, who survives the shipwreck and leaves him adrift aimlessly in the open ocean. Finally, a schooner on a sealing expedition comes to her rescue and meets her fearsome captain “Wolf” Larsen.
Under Larsen’s care, the naive van Weyden familiarizes himself with the harshness of marine life and enters a fight for survival so brutal that it threatens to break it and turn it into something else. The series, although relatively short, takes place almost entirely in the sea, which becomes a character in itself.
1 Vikings (2013-2020)
Focusing on one of the most famous sailors the world has ever known, Vikings features plenty of time at sea as farmer-turned-tribal leader Ragnar Lothbrok leads his warriors from his Norse lands across the sea to what is now modern-day England.
The sea shacks featured in the series are made up of ancient Norse hymns and often pay homage to ancient gods like Odin and Loki as Ragnar and his family seek the courage to conquer new worlds.
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