Bit Pieces and Odd Events in the life of a Lightship Sailor...
What is the one unique thing that the Hornbeam has in common with the Nantucket Lightship Station?
Hornbeam has been stationed at Woods Hole and Cape May during her career. She has participated in numerous SAR operations, including assisting after the Andrea Doria and Stockholm collided in 1956, temporarily assumed duties on the Nantucket light station in 1954, (source USCG Historians Office)
Flies, Hurricanes, and Rolling Ships
On 04/17/02 Gary Day said:
I was the last CO of WLV529. While I was on her she was the RELIEF out of Cape May. Prior to that she was the DELAWARE and prior to that she was the WINTER QUARTER. Rode out one hurricane (at night - where do hurricanes go in the daytime). We were on BARNEGAT station at the time. During my 18 months aboard we relieved AMBROSE, BARNEGAT, FIVE FATHOM and DELAWARE stations. If my memory is serving me correctly we relieved each of them at least twice. Stayed moored at Staten Island seven months waiting to be decommissioned. Delaware was the worst, flies would eat you alive in summer. At chow time we covered all the food with clean rags and sprayed BUG-A-BYE in the air vents to get rid of them.
During calm weather we rolled a lot because the current from the Delaware River would hold us broadside to the swells. Finally figured out how to moor by securing a mooring line to the anchor chain by use of a pelican hook. Would then secure the mooring line to a bit amidships and we would stem the swells. Made for a much more comfortable ride. While she was riding out a hurricane as the WINTER QUARTER the seas were so large and steep that she tossed a loop in the anchor chain and passed through it tying an overhand knot in the chain so they could not weigh anchor and had to slip the anchor chain. (If this is not a true story don't blame me- that was th CO's reason for having the overhand knot in the anchor chain.
I was on the MADRONNA at the time and recovered the anchor and chain. We decommissioned the ship in April of '67 at CG Base Staten Island. She was towed to CG Yard Baltimore, The last time I saw her she was moored at New Port News. Someone had painted a white and blue stripe around the hull at deck level. People there did not like it when I told them they should not have done it. May have been the way I put it to them. Plan on attending the reunion in New Bedford. Any misspellings are purely the fault of the operator.
The Silent Hero's
Years ago my Daughter went into the hospital while I was on the Portland Lightship. The station was unable to get out to me due to the storm (too rough to transfer personnel to a 44 they said) leaving me stuck on the ship. CWO Richard D'Entremont got on the radio to the group and told the group, you find a way to conduct this transfer or the Lightship was coming into port. Although we unfortunately lost our Daughter to her heart disease, I have never ever for one minute forgotten the support Rich D'Entremont gave me that day. I had no money (payday was during the trip but not yet ) no gas in the car etc. The Portland Pilot overheard the radio call to the group, and offered to pick me up since they would be done picking up the pilot in just over a half hour. Mr. 'D? gave me some cash to get me home, the pilot vessel picked me up and since it was late by the time we got into port they arranged that I could buy fuel for the car at the State Police barracks, the police in Maine and NH gave me a high speed escort to Massachusetts, and I made it home in record time. Support of all, and major support from some that never knew me.
Rick Bennett, former LSA Secretary
The ET's Trip to the Delaware Lightship
I was "the" ET at Lewes Del. in 1959 and part of my duties were the Delaware Bay Lightship electronics, how I dreaded that. I was ferried out on the 40 or the 83 and started to get seasick the minute I got aboard. I would work awhile and get off for a smoke and let my stomach settle and then get back to work. One time I was troubleshooting the radar and the foghorn went off ... I went flying, my meter was sitting on the deck and the vibration knocked the needle off its bearings... back to shore for the spare! I knew I was in trouble the one night I had to stay aboard. when they showed me my rack, I asked, why is that lifejacket tied there?
Never mind, they said, if you hear G.Q. grab it and get on deck! Sure enough, middle of the night, G.Q. goes off and I go flying up on deck just in time to see a large wall of steel go sliding by ...I was sure happy to get back to the lifeboat station that time!
Sent in via our Feed Back Forum by Dennis Lamont U.S.C.G. 1957 - 1961
Lightship 612 On Station, San Francisco Bar 22 November 1963
President Kennedy Assassinated By Russ Helberg. I was in the rec deck watching TV with the others when it happened. Could not believe it then, still can?t now. Couple days later Lee Harvey got shot and died also.
When the thirty-day moratorium started the strangest thing happened to our ship. She swung eastward and faced that way for the whole thirty days. The most she ever swung west was Point Reyes to the south and Point Montara to the north. Once the mourning period was over, she swung back west and faced the Farallon Islands.
It was strange, but it did happen. And if the logbooks from that time could be found, they would prove me right. But I guess I just have a memory to live with on this one.
Please feel free to contribute to this page with the events that you remember of an "odd" nature.
Simply send us an e mail here
Back Library Menu Page
© 2009 USCG Lightship Sailors Association International Inc. Larry Ryan, President