“Everywhere we went we went by boat because there was no way off the island other than that,” said Max Hussey about Ship Island, Herring Neck in Notre Dame Bay.
Growing up in the 1950s, Max recalls a time when boats were not only used to earn a living, but for transportation, recreation and everything in between.
“When we were very young, probably seven or eight years old, we were using motor boats then.” She was about twenty-three feet long and outfitted with a 4 HP Atlantic engine. “I can remember going to the store with my mother. She would steer the boat but she would want me to get the engine going.”
Make & Break
“When they come in through the tickle – from the ocean out down there where we used live – when they get in through the tickle you could hear the sound in the cliff and you could tell exactly who was gonna come in before they appeared… You could tell by the stroke of the motor and also the sound too. Some motors would turn over faster, those little make and break engines… Some would be putt-putt-putt [slowly] and more would be putt-putt-putt-putt [fast].”
When Max was eight years old, he had appendicitis and required medical attention. He remembers his father took the boat to Little Harbour and went to fetch the doctor from the hospital in Twillingate.
Once the doctor arrived back on Ship Island, it was determined that Max would need surgery immediately. Now the middle of the night, all climbed back aboard the boat to head to Little Harbour, with Max in the midship room covered up with blankets under the gangboards. “It was a different world altogether.”
As a teenager, Max remembers being out late at night. “You know, dark as pitch going around the harbour in the boat, but you could hear them going back and forth nighttime,” Max said. There was a popular hangout spot across the way known as Sunnyside. “Everybody would gather up there in the night. And everybody would go by boat.