Blunts Reef Light Station (Lightship LV 76 (WAL 504)

Station 46030

Owned and maintained by National Data Buoy Center - 3-meter discus buoy with VEEP payload

Location: 40.42 N 124.53 W (40°25'22"N 124°31'31"W)

Site elevation: sea level.  Air temp height: 4 m above site elevation.  Anemometer height: 5 m above site elevation.

Barometer elevation: sea level.  Sea temp depth: 0.6 m below site elevation Water depth: 82.3 m Watch circle radius: 107 yards

I start this section with the above as it is all that is left of the Blunts Reef lightship station - where I spent many months. Seems sort of insulting to think that I, and a number of other able bodied men, could be replaced by this sort of thing! I also would note that one of the duties of (some) lightships was to serve was weather stations and so we (the Radio Watch) had to gather a lot of pathological information at intervals during the day and radio them in (there were a lot of them!).

Being on a relief ship, I was stationed on two stations, Blunts Reef, and the San Francisco Bar. You might wonder why I am writing here about just one of the two stations. The fact is that no two stations were the same. Just a few comparisons before we get started. Some differences were (1) weather - Blunts had worse weather, (2) traffic - San Francisco had a lot of shipping traffic as well as fishing boats and private vessels - there was hardly any traffic at Blunts. (3) we were serviced by a tender once a week in San Francisco - at Blunts it was once every ten days (due to the greater mileage involved - I guess). There were other differences.

I mentioned the weather at Blunts Reef. It was almost always rather rough on station there - except for about two days once when the sea was so still it was like a mirror. There was not a ripple on it and the ship was quiet - an eerie quiet because you got accustomed to the noises the ship makes as it rolls back and forth.

Traveling to and from Blunts was usually rough too. The helmsman (or, if it was really rough, helmsmen) had all he could do to keep the ship on course since we did not have power steering.

We finally fixed the cable with bailing wire and were on our way again.

Another trip, a part of the engine cracked and we limped into port at half speed.

On one trip home, the steering cable broke. The steering was accomplished by having a cable wrap around about half of a drum connected to the rear of the ships wheel.  This cable then went through a series of pulleys out of the wheel house, along the scuppers on one side of the deck and back to the steering quadrant.  Then they would wind their way back up the scupper on the other side of the deck and back into the wheelhouse where they would wrap around the rest of the drum.

This was far from power steering! Well, the cable broke and so we had no steering. The Captain signaled "all stop" on the engine room telegraph. We stopped the engine which meant that all the steam going to the engine had to go somewhere - through the safety valves and up the stack. While working on the deck to repair the cable, it was like it was raining with all the steam condensing on us. We finally fixed the cable with bailing wire and were on our way again.

Another trip, a part of the engine cracked and we limped into port at half speed.



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