Color a lightship
Click the images below to download Lightship coloring pages. Click on the lightship on the left to download a drawing of the Ambrose lightship, or the lightship on the right to download a ship that you can name yourself. Sailors, seagulls, fish, submarines, and cat not included (but you can add those, too). Additional coloring pages are here.
See and support the lightship in Lightship
The drawings in Lightship are based largely on LV-87, also known as the Ambrose lightship, currently docked at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City. Lightship maintenance doesn't come cheap, though; you can support the preservation of the Ambrose by making a donation through the museum's web site, here.
"Making the Sea Lanes Safe"
Visit the U.S.C.G. Lightship Sailors' Museum Exhibit
The U. S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving existing lightships, the history of lightships, and the stories of lightship sailors. The L.S.A.'s collection of historical objects and documents is on display at the Coast Guard Heritage Museum at Barnstable Village on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. General information about the museum is here, and information about the L.S.A. exhibit is here.
Read more about lightships
Men of Lightship "61"
This British WWII propaganda film depicts the German bombing of the East Dudgeon lightship in January, 1940. The US edit of the film is here, the original British version (titled "Men of the Lightship") is here. Not for younger viewers, but it offers a glimpse of life on a lightship and a sense of their special significance to sailors. "To men who sail the seven seas," begins the American version, "the lightship has always been a symbol of humanity...." More background on the film is at the British Film Institute, here.
Build a lightship
If you have more patience than I do you can build a paper model of the Ambrose lightship by following these free plans. Note: The larger you make the plans, the easier it will be to build the ship. Heavy paper wouldn't hurt, either, and neither would a zen outlook on life.
A curriculum guide to Lightship, prepared by Simon & Schuster, is online here.
Best of all: visit a lightship
There are lightships afloat and open to visitors in California, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington. Climb the gangplank, walk the decks, peer through the portholes, and imagine months on board.
(Please call and confirm before you go. Some of these ships are in the process of being restored, and all of this information is subject to change. Also, anyone can make a typo.)
Seattle, Washington: Lightship Vessel No. 83, or LV-83, for short, which formerly served as the Blunts Reef, San Francisco and Relief lightships was renamed the Swiftsure lightship and is docked at the Historic Ships Wharf at Lake Union Park. She is a National Historic Landmark vessel and operated by the nonprofit organization Northwest Seaport. Visitors may view the vessel from the wharf and may soon board her to watch shipwrights replace her wooden deck.
Boston, MA: A former Nantucket lightship, LV-112 survived near death in Oyster Bay, Long Island, where she was for a time docked and awaiting completion of the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island, New York. When the new museum fell behind schedule, LV-112 was put on the block for the sum of $1.00. Things looked bleak. Happily, she is today docked at Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina, undergoing restoration, and can be visited. More information here.
(Formerly) New Bedford, Massachusetts: LV-114 served as the Portland, Pollock, and Diamond Shoals lightship. Until the summer of 2007 she was labeled New Bedford and moored in that city, which had owned her since 1971. After years of promising a renovation — while at the same time allowing deterioration and vandalism — the city stripped the ship of items of historical significance and in December, 2006, put her up for auction on eBay. That didn’t work, and in June, 2007, New Bedford negotiated to sell the ship to a firm which planned to convert the ship to scrap metal. By the end of the month she was in pieces.
New York, New York: LV-115, the Frying Pan lightship served at the Frying Pan Shoals off North Carolina and is now docked at Pier 66a (at 26th Street) in the Hudson River, where it does duty as a bar.
Baltimore, Maryland: LV-116, which served on the Chesapeake and Delaware stations (and which I had the pleasure of touring while working on the book LIGHTSHIP) is well maintained and open to the public as part of the Baltimore Maritime Museum. She is docked at Pier 3 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Lewes, Delaware: LV-118 served on the Boston, Cornfield, and Cross Rip stations but today is painted as the Overfalls lightship. She is being actively and beautifully restored by the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation.
Astoria, Oregon: Lightship WAL-604 served at the mouth of the Columbia River off the coast of Oregon. She’s in fine shape and open to visitors as part of the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
Oakland, California: WAL-605 served at the Overfalls station off of Delaware, then at Blunt's Reef off the coast of California, before being used as a Relief ship all along the West Coast. She is now docked and maintained at Jack London Square in Oakland by the United States Lighthouse Society, who have given her a remarkable restoration.
At sea: A former Nantucket lightship, WLV 612, has been converted into a private yacht (!), complete with large screen plasma TV and other things undreamt of by lightship sailors. The ship is available for weekly and event charters, if you have the means.
Brooklyn, New York: And, finally, there is LV-84, a former Relief lightship. This ship was purchased by private owners with a renovation in mind, but while docked in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn the ship was allowed to deteriorate, until it sank. (The story made the New York Times, here.) For years only the ship's masts stuck out from under the water, visible even in satellite view on Google, down off the pier at the end of Richards Street Brooklyn NY. It seems, though, that sometime during January, 2007, LV-84 disappeared. Was she raised and sold for scrap? Was she towed to deeper waters and abandoned? No one seems to know. The ocean holds many secrets! The history of LV-84, or as much of it as is known, is in a PDF from the U. S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailors Association, online here.
Finally, below is a photo from August 23, 1967 — the end of the lightship era in New York Harbor. This is "Ambrose Lightship (WLV-613) makes farewell departure as new Ambrose Offshore Light Structure is placed in operation." Photo by PH2 Dorwin Douglass, USCG, via this Coast Guard web page. (WLV-613 was a successor to LV-87, the lightship in the book Lightship, hence the different appearance.)