Digest>Archives> March 2002

Overfall Lightship LV 118 Steers a New Course Towards Preservation

By Bob Trapani, Jr.


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On December 7, 2001 the newly formed Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation became the proud owners of Lightship LV 118 with the official transfer of the vessel from the Lewes Historical Society, Lewes, Delaware. The evening ceremony capped two challenging and passionate years of hard work for the energetic preservationists of the Overfalls Lightship.

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Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation President ...

When the Lewes Historical Society announced locally in 1999 that they would be unable to keep up with the demands of preserving Overfalls Lightship LV 118, a group of eleven individuals stepped forward committing to saving one of America’s last remaining lightships. The passage of twenty-eight years since its decommissioning in 1973 may have faded the memory of Lightship LV 118’s courageous service upon lightship stations Boston, Cross Rip and Cornfield, however, her long-standing vigil along the historic Lewes Canal had permanently endeared her presence within the hearts of the Lewes community. The unwavering support from concerned citizens buoyed the initial efforts of the group and eventually culminated in sole ownership of the vessel. Ted Kanakos, vice-president of the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation recently was quoted as saying, “the support from the community has been for want of a better word - overwhelming! The comment we most hear now from the people of Lewes is “its about time someone did something with that great ship and how can we help?” Kanakos went on to say that “the City of Lewes has shown and given us a great amount of support and wants to use the lightship as a focal point of their new canal park which is presently in the planning stage.”

Time and the tides have not been kind to this grand warrior of the seas. Oxidation has taken a heavy toll on the ship’s hull over the years from having been moored in approximately 7 to 10 feet of muck and mud, not to mention a host of other deteriorating conditions that are present within the vessel and atop the superstructure. However, despite the presence of such restoration challenges, the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation remains undaunted. Ted Kanakos states, “we presently have a top notch maintenance and restoration plan in place with long term plans designed to lift the ship out of the water and onto a dry berth on land. It is estimated that the project will take at least four years and cost approximately five million dollars before the restoration of Overfalls Lightship LV 118 is complete.”

The end result of the efforts being put forth by the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation will be the creation of an educational Museum designed to interpret the history of lightships and a shining example of what can happen when committed individuals come together for the cause of maritime preservation. Overfalls Lightship LV 118 sets forth on a bright new course in the 21st century - one that will provide her with the opportunity to help future generations navigate and understand our nation’s rich lightship and maritime heritage.

To learn more about the efforts of the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation, write to:

Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation

P.O. Box 413

Lewes, DE 19958

Website: www.personal.psu.edu/users/s/x/sxd191/

Email: lightship118@aol.com

This story appeared in the March 2002 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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