Long haul shanties usually had a simple, regular form: one line of verse followed lines of chorus. During the verses the crew would rest and they when the chorus came they’d pull together, almost like a tug of war. Usually there were two pulls in each chorus, so the tugs happened with everyone singing.
These songs went well with jobs like raising the anchor or pumping the bilge that called for steady, continuous pushing or pulling instead of bursts of strength with rests in between. The capstan was a pillar of metal and wood that was mounted on the deck of the whaleship. It had holes around the top into which long poles could be fitted so that it looked a little like a wagon wheel without its rim. The line to the anchor would be attached to the capstan and sailors would turn the capstan by pushing hard against those poles and walking steadily around and around. As the rope wound around the capstan the anchor would be raised.