Digest>Archives> October 2008

Collecting Nautical Antiques

Beacon For Pollock Rip

By Jim Claflin


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We recently acquired a wonderful lot of c.1893 cabinet photographs picturing light stations along the Maine and Massachusetts coastline. In this lot was a rare view of an unusual floating beacon labeled as Pollock Rip Beacon. Listed in the Light List for 1918 as being a black, flat float with a skeleton super-structure, this rather large beacon was anchored in 30 feet of water on Pollick Rip.

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The channel at Pollock Rip Shoals is centered about three miles east of the southerly end of Monomoy Island in Chatham, Cape Cod. The channel, which runs east-west, is about eight miles south of the Chatham Lighthouse. Vessels passing around the Cape Cod coastline have used this channel as a passage from the Atlantic Ocean to Nantucket Sound for hundreds of years. A number of lightships and buoys have marked this area for more than a century. Many vessels were lost or badly damaged in storms in this dangerous area. In one such easterly gale in 1924, Lightship No. 73 was thrown on her beam ends by the seas. She recovered but continued to ship heavy seas for 36 hours even with her engine running ahead. Her starboard boat was crushed, engine room ventilators carried away, and riding gear severely sprung. She and her crew survived the gale but had to be removed from the station for repairs.

These buoys were rarely photographed because of their remote locations and rather unromantic nature. We were lucky that this photographer caught this scene as the buoy was being towed into Boston Harbor for repair. We don’t usually get the opportunity to view the construction of such unusual buoys but here we have a great clear view. Note the daymark and spire on the top for visibility. If you look closely too, you can see two workers on the flat base riding the buoy into port.

Another item of interest was sent to me by Lance H., a regular reader. He came across this patch. It is oval with gold border, and seems to show a skeleton light tower with its light beam shining out to sea. I don’t believe this to be U.S. Lighthouse Service related — possibly another country or organization. It is a rather attractive piece and we wonder if someone reading this might have an idea — maybe you have seen a similar image somewhere. Any help that you might provide would be most appreciated. Thanks Lance for your question.

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Jim Claflin is a recognized authority on antiques of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Life-Saving Service, Revenue Cutter Service and early Coast Guard. In addition to authoring and publishing a number of books on the subject, Jim is the owner of Kenrick A Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques. In business since 1956, he has specialized in antiques of this type since the early 1990s. He may be contacted by writing to him at 1227 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602, or by calling (508) 792-6627. You may also contact him by email: jclaflin@lighthouseantiques.net or visit his web site at www.lighthouseantiques.net

This story appeared in the October 2008 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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