A judge in a British Court on Thursday found himself forced to answer a question that has vexed seamen since at least the nineteenth century.

What should he do with a drunken sailor?

A Scottish sea captain stood before him in the dock, charged with running his trawler aground on the sand near Filey, North Yorkshire. He had admitted to being drunk in charge of his craft.

The judgement that Judge James Spencer QC came to after hearing the case was in line with British law, though it lacked the poetry of the sea shanty.

George Wood, 52, was fined $1,891 and was told: “You were twice the legal limit and that cannot be ignored.”

The question of what to do with this particular sailor came to court after an incident in August. Needless to say, it all happened early in the morning.

Wood, a scallop fisherman from Ayr, Scotland, had risen early on August 22, the morning after what was presumably a rowdy evening in Scarborough, to celebrate his birthday.

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