Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A long line of Guardians


Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse.
An entry from the Keeper's log, 22 April, 1880:

… we shoved off with all hands in their places in the boat. After getting outside the reef we found the sea heavier with an occasional very heavy one. We dodged and weathered them all right until within about 1/4 mile from scow and nearly one mile distant from nearest point of land. Suddenly, I noticed a very big sea coming for us. There was only time to straighten her so that she might take it head on, but it proved to {sic} much for her. It came abroad and completely filled her. As the sea was leaving I gave the orders to bail, (we had two bailing dishes aboard) but the men saw that her gunnals {sic} were too far below water as soon as the sea had left us. In a few minutes after she broached to and rolled over with us. We righted her and tried to work one of the oars to get her stern to the sea, but it was impossible her gunnals {sic} being so far below water and in a few moments she rolled over again. We righted her again but with the same result. I am not positive whether we righted her again or not, but if we did not I think the seas rolled her over several times, but of this I am not sure.

All seemed to have hopes at first that we could hang on until we got to the reef. Where we thought we might touch bottom and right her up, and get the water out. At the time she filled we were distant from the reef about a 1/2 mile. {A}bout 3/4 of hour after filling Surfman Pattinger gave out. From that time until the last man finished — I think it was about 1/2 hour, they all seemed to go in the same way, gradually going off in a stupor — something like being chloroformed — with one exception they were all holding on the boat by the life lines or fenders when they gave up. Slowly their faces would drop forward until they touched the water and in a few moments after their holds would relax and…the boat would slowly drift away from them.

The exception was Surfman Morrison, he let go his hold or was washed away. When I noticed him, he was five or six feet from the boat seemingly unconscious, his face was slowly dropping. I sung out to him calling him by name, but he never showed any sign that he heard me and in a moment or two I saw it was all over with him. Surfman Deegan was the last one to give up. Up to this time my memory serves me very good. This must have been about 7 am. From this time until about 12 noon I can remember only very little that transpired. I was found on the beach by Mr. S. McFarland and Mr. A. Shaw about 9:30 am.

~~ Keeper Jerome G Kiah, Port Huron, Michigan

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