In 1891 Gustav Kobbe wrote an article for Century Magazine, titled "Life on the South Shoal Lightship." The South Shoals vessel (No. 1) was positioned 24 miles off Sankaty Head, Nantucket Island.
Kobbe wrote movingly of life aboard a lightship, a vessel "as much at the mercy of the waves as a vessel stripped of sails or deprived of motive power in mid-ocean. Even in smooth weather the motion is entirely different from that of a ship under way. For a few minutes she will lie on an even keel, and then without warning she will roll so that the water streams in through her scuppers."
Kobbe explains that "the emotional stress under which [the] crew labors can hardly be realized by any one who has not been through a similar experience. The sailor on an ordinary ship has at least the inspiration of knowing that he is bound for somewhere; that in due time his vessel will be laid on her homeward course; that storm and fog are but incidents of the voyage: he is on a ship that leaps forward full of life and energy with every lash of the tempest. But no matter how the lightship may plunge and roll, no matter how strong the favoring gales may be, she is still anchored [on the shoal]...."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is about earthquakes that have affected Ocracoke and the Outer Banks. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092116.htm.