Ship Ashore = 75 down, 25 to go

14 Aug

Nonfiction
Ship Ashore
Joe A. Mobley
170 pages

I experienced my first true beach vacation this year in Rodanthe, N.C., on the Outer Banks. I wasn’t sure how I was going to fare on this vacation – I’ve never stayed in one place for that long on vacation and I’ve never been a huge beach person. While I enjoyed the couple of days we did spend on the beach, there were other sights to take in as well.

Located at the end of our driveway was the a sign for the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, the largest and most complete U.S. Life Saving Service station. The USLSS was created in 1848 to save shipwrecked sailors and passengers

From the front porch of our beach house, we saw a live demonstration being performed and spent some time trying to figure out what uniformed U.S. Coast Guard personnel were doing. Later that afternoon, we went down to the station and learned that they had been running a full beach apparatus drill, exhibiting the historical methods the USLSS used to save shipwrecked crews and passengers.  We toured the station and the other original buildings – the Chicamacomico station is one of the few still nearly fully intact.

Similar to other historical site visits I’ve made over the years, I hit the bookstore, looking for a book that would give me more insight into the people and lives impacted by the USLSS. I picked up Ship Ashore! The U.S. Lifesavers of Coastal North Carolina. The book tells the story of North Carolina’s precarious coastline and how teams from the state’s 29 USLSS stations saved hundreds of  lives. It talks through the establishment of the service, history of the stations and how the USLSS eventually became part of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.

This book was an interesting read, sharing insight into the personal peril and jeopardy these life-savers put themselves in on a daily basis to save the lives of others. I thought the foreword set the stage well:

The romance of the sea has generated many stories of heroism and courage over the years, but few can compete with the true-life exploits of the United States lifesavers. In a work of original research, Joe A. Mobley recounts the story of North Carolina’s lifesavers and the service they performed along the state’s treacherous coast. The rescue of shipwrecked mariners has contributed much to the lore and charm of the Outer Banks.

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