Downeaster Alexa

Title of a Billy Joel song which appears to be about the loss of the fishing industry. He refers to it as something that he has lost, something he wishes to own… what is it and why is it called a downeaster alexa?

His fishing boat, the “Downeaster Alexa”.

About the decline of the fishing industry off New York’s Long Island.

Or it could be a metaphor.

Actually I mis-quoted. A downeaster is a type of fishing boat. His is named “Alexa”. He can’t afford to keep fishing and feed his family. He’s lamenting the loss of a way of life.

There. I think that’s it.

Then what exactly is a Downeaster?

You know how people below the Mason-Dixon line live “Down South”…

Well, people in New England don’t live “Up North” they actually live “Down East.” I don’t know exactly what a Downeaster looks like, but I understood that it’s a smaller boat, such as would be used by a single fisherman or small crew.

Alexa is also the name of his first daughter, and the inspiration for the name of the boat IIRC. As far as a downeaster, I suggest a web search.

Websters lists this:
Main Entry: down-east·er
Pronunciation: dau-'nE-st&r
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized D&E
Date: 1827
: one born or living down east

Who knows if the boat guess is right or not, it may just be refering to the perils facing the community or a family that lives in the struggling eastern town.

Downeaster refers to a person from Maine. My parents are both from New York, and I have family in New England, so presumably they should know. Unfortunately, they do not know how Maine came to be though of as “down-east.” Maybe this term was invented in Canada (but that’s just a WAG).

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

Now for the REAL burning question about this song…

Do the lyrics

“Tell my wife I am trolling Atlantis
And I still have my hand on the wheel”

followed by haunting sounds later cribbed by Diane Warren for “My Heart Will Go On”

mean that he deliberately sinks the Alexa & goes down with her so his family will get insurance money?

Sue from El Paso

major, Yes I believe that line is about if he never comes home again… to “tell my wife im trolling atlantas” and he’s still in control.

And yes… the downeaster alexis is the boat.

Great song.

The wisest man I ever knew taught me something I never forgot. And although I never forgot it, I never quite memorized it either. So what I’m left with is the memory of having learned
something very wise that I can’t quite remember. -George Carlin

The name “Alexa” was used specifically, I assume, because that’s the name of Billy Joel’s daughter.


I believe you will find the term comes from weather common to the area, which blows downwind to the East from the New England area.
Can anyone find a cite to confirm?

Just thinking out loud – but if anyone would have used the term “Down-Easter”, I would have expected Stephen King.
I can’t recall his having used it though.