When nineteenth century life savers arrived at the scene of a wreck one of their first jobs was to fire a projectile attached to a "shot line" to the stricken vessel. Once the shot line was retrieved by the sailors on board, it was hauled to the ship. On shore the keeper of the life saving station would have attached the "whip line," the "tail block," and a "tally board" to the shot line. The tally board instructed the shipwrecked crew how to secure the block and whip line to the ship. Next, the life savers rigged the sand anchor, the hawser, and the breeches buoy and proceeded with the rescue of the vessel's crew.
This link will take you to a photo of a USLSS tally board:
The tally board had instruction in French on one side, and instructions in English on the other side:
"(L'autre cote.) Make the tail of this block fast to
the lower mast well up. If masts are gone then to the best place you can
find. Cast off shot line, see that the rope in the block runs free
& show signal to the shore.
"(Other Side) Fouettez la poulie le plus
haut possible sur le bas mat, ou a l'enndroit le plus favorable si les
bas mats sont perdus. Detachez le ligne, voyez que la corde coure
facilment dans la poulie, et faites signal au rivage."
The following web site has excellent photos of the life saving apparatus along with explanations of how it was used:
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the unique "Ocracoke Greeting." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022113.htm.