Paraphrase:
He is an excellent fellow, and a good companion. He dresses in a knee length, rough wool gown. His dagger hangs from a cord, and he was brown as a brick from the summer sun. He is a drunk, he puts down many glasses of wine and he steals vintage wine from the trader. The skipper travels alot, and when he gets in fights on his vessel, his prisoners walk the plank. From Hull to Carthage he had no match.



Commentary:
Chaucer thinks that the skipper is a shady character because he is an alcoholic that steals wine, but also fights, and kills his prisoners.

original text:
There was a Seaman who hailed from the west;
From Dartmouth perhaps, I really can't tell.
He rode a packhorse, none too well
Dressed in a knee length, rough wool gown.
His dagger hung from a cord, which ran down
And round under his arm, like a baldric.
The summer had burned him brown as a brick.

A really good fellow as well, I should say:
He'd put many a glass of Bordeaux away
While the wine merchant was sleeping below.
His conscience was broad, as consciences go.

If, when ships fought, his gained the upper hand
He sent his foes by water back to land.
For craftsmanship, in reckoning the tides
The currents and the dangers on all sides,
Knowing havens, the moon and navigation,
There was no better man in any nation.

He was wise in business, hardy and hale;
His beard had been blown by many a gale.
As to harbours he knew exactly where
They were, from Gotland to Cape Finistere
And every creek, in Brittany and Spain.
His sailing barge was called the Madelain.