Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Faking Box

The US Life Saving Service employed an elaborate system of ropes, pulleys, and life ring to rescue sailors stranded on wrecked vessels. The keeper and six (later, eight) surfmen pulled the beach apparatus cart to the wreck. There they buried the sand anchor, positioned the brass Lyle gun, shot a line to the ship, then rigged the breeches buoy and conveyed the victims to shore.

One of the more obscure pieces of life saving equipment was the faking box. Inside the box was a frame with three to four dozen 10" - 12" long wooden pins arranged on the periphery. The shot line (which was tied to a projectile that was fired to the wreck) was wound around the pins in an overlaid zig-zag pattern. At the scene of the wreck the frame (with the rope wound on the pins) was turned upside down, and the rope was carefully pushed off the pins. This arrangement allowed the shot line to travel without becoming tangled.

The photo below, courtesy of the Outer Banks History Center, shows the faking frame resting on the beach after the shot line has been removed.

(Click on photo to view a larger image.)

Fake is a nautical term meaning to coil (a rope). It is of obscure origin.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a brief history of Ocracoke and the Lost Colony. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:20 AM

    Thanks for this very interesting information about the faking box and for the fine photograph showing the box and showing an absolutely flat beach. I wonder whether that beach was kept flat by regular overwash from ocean to sound, in those days when there was no vegetation in that area?

  2. Anonymous12:14 PM

    What is a faking box? Just kidding--your answer to the anticipated question leaves me with only one thing to say...good morning, Philip.

  3. Anonymous1:18 PM

    interesting photo. If you look closely you can see the gentleman on the far right has had an accident. If there were only more public bathrooms on the island this would have never happened.

  4. Anonymous2:11 PM

    What are you talking about --the ocean-- the man in the boat, that's the tidy bowl guy checking the condition of the biggest bathroom near OI during the summer the cote de toilet

  5. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Phillip, the comments section of your blog is becoming unreadable due to folks (who obviously have tiny bladders) talking non-stop about toilets. Yes, I could stop reading the comments, but sometimes they're interesting.