Boxing Rock is a shoal off Hartz Point in Shelburne Harbour – one that’s exposed only at low tide. According to local folklore, it had a special purpose for the sea captains of our past. Sailing ships and their crews spent weeks or months at sea, eating, sleeping and working within inches of each other – seeing, smelling, hearing and jostling one another every moment of every day. Inevitably, they got on each others’ nerves.
Sometimes, sailors reached the end of their patience and things came to a head. Captains dealt with bickering crew by assigning them opposite watches or even throwing them in the hold together until they sorted things out… one way or the other. But sometimes Boxing Rock was the only answer.
In an age when most sailors couldn’t swim, a disagreement that set a couple of crew members on Boxing Rock forced a quick resolution. Imagine the Captain calling over the gunwales, “Here’s the deal, boys. Shake hands and share a beer or box until one of you drops. We’ll be back before high tide to pick up one or both of you.”
More often than not, the two would duke it out, only the winner returning to the ship. But every now and then a pair would appreciate the dry land beneath their feet – however modest a chunk – the break from their labours and the jug of beer they agreed to share. They would sit together, laugh together, and drink together, breathing the fresh air and watching the waves lap at their feet.
There are only a few short hours before high tide, so drink up.