These photos were taken when the ship was docked in the Wicomico River in a little town called Whitehaven on the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay. The ship had been docked here for roughly ten years, with little maintenance until this tragic day. She was submerged in this state for three years, before being raised and removed.
And from here, the restoration began. She was re powered with a Cummins diesel motor and slowly brought up the East Coast of the US. After dry docking in Baltimore, she spent the winter anchored in the upper Chesapeake. As docking entails paying rent, our preference was to find an out of the way area and just drop the anchor and let her sit offshore. The next spring, we moved her through the D&C canal and up the Delaware River to Philadelphia where it was easier for us to make weekend trips down from New York City to work on her. The goal was to eventually get her to New York City, but at a blistering speed of 4 knots (4.4 miles per hour), continued renovation and shoveling of mud and the magnetic attraction the hull had for hidden sand bars made the journey seem incredibly long.
After an exciting year in Philadelphia,
we began the long trip down the Delaware River to Cape May, New Jersey. The
Frying Pan actually served here in Cape May from 1965 until her decommission
in 1967, as the Cape May Lightship. Here lies the demarcation line between
inland waters and the ocean and with this crossing, everything needed to be ship
shape. After stowing aboard enough water and chocolate doughnuts for a week, a
motley crew of supportive friends joined us on the ship's first return to the
ocean in over 15 years. The next day, while 30 miles off of Atlantic City, we
met a storm that gave us an idea of what it must have been like to be aboard her
during her days on station at Frying Pan Shoals during a good blow. We plotted
our position every half hour and we were being pushed backwards for a whole
day! The pitching stirred up some silt in the fuel tank, causing a blockage
that could only be unclogged with a strong blast of air back up the line and due
to our lack of fuel gauges, there was talk of being out of fuel. But we
eventually figured it out and made it under the Verrazano Bridge two days later
Back to Frying
Pan Shoal Lightship Station History.
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