Life Lines, June 2020


Annual Conference 2020 has been cancelled.

Find more information, see the section below about the Annual Conference.

Photo Credit: Hull Life-Saving Museum

Welcome to Life Lines the monthly newsletter for members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association.  For those of you reading and have yet to join, please consider doing so. Your membership will get you access to the station inventory link and our new venture to create a “Surfmans’ Data Base.”   If you would like to join please go to


Publications Now Available as Print-on-Demand

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The two books that the USLSSHA produced are now available by print-on-demand at  Search for either “They Had to Go Out” or “Rescue: The Stories of the U.S. Life-Saving Service” edited by John Galluzzo.  If you have not added these two books to your library here is your chance to do so.


Chronology of Coast Guard History

If you were looking for a link to a chronology of Coast Guard History here is that link.  I will leave it permanently on Life Lines for you to access each month. I found this really useful and interesting.


Wallops Beach Station Again Looking for a New Home

Photo Credit: NASA

The Wallops Beach Station in Virginia we thought had a rescuer but that now has fallen short. The station again needs someone willing to take and move the structures from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. Both the station and the tower could be yours. NASA will demolish the structure in 2021 to reduce their mandated allotted square footage, but there is still time. If someone is interested, able, and willing to move these structures please make contact to determine how you can make them yours.

Steve Taylor
Realty Specialist
NASA Wallops Flight Facility
Bldg N-161, Rm 135
Work: 757-824-1194
Cell: 503-317-0073


Shore Lore: The Portland Gale Tragedy

Photo Credit:

The Portland Gale of 1898 is remembered as the deadliest weather event in New England maritime history. The Thanksgiving weekend storm claimed over 450 lives along the coast, including 192 aboard the doomed steamer S.S. Portland.

Forty other vessels were destroyed or damaged, including the 344-ton schooner Albert L. Butler near the Peaked Hill Lifesaving Station in Provincetown on the morning of November 27, 1898. Two of the crew and a passenger were lost.

“The sailors perished as a result of their own rashness and lack of self possession, when they might have certainly have been saved,” according to the U.S. Lifesaving Service report of 1899. If you would like to read more:

There are more stories online about this event, especially check out this one where a man from Brooklin, Maine, named Gott saw a cat leaving the steamer, taking her kittens down the gangway one by one. He decided the cat knew something he didn’t and got off the boat.

This version also mentions that Lt. Worth G. Ross, a life-saving station inspector, also witnessed the storm. “The wild fury of the wind and driving snow continued without abatement until late in the afternoon,” he wrote. “At times the force and roar of the tempest were so appalling as to be indescribable.”


Coast Guard Responds to Whale-Watching Boat Taking on Water West of Whidbey Island

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Coast Guard officials responded Thursday afternoon to reports of a whale-watching boat taking on water off of Smith Island.

Smith Island is an island located in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca – west of Whidbey Island and south of Lopez Island.

No information about injuries has been released at this time, and all on board were wearing life jackets. The boat is 60 feet long.

The boat was purposely grounded on a Smith Island beach due to it taking on water for unknown reason, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard crews were responding with a boat from Station Bellingham and helicopter from Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, and the crew of the cutter Wahoo and a boat crew from Station Port Angeles were on the way.

If you would like to read more and watch the video rescue go to:


New U.S. Coast Guard Cell Phone Technology Helps Save Lives at Sea

Photo Credit: MyNorthwest

If you need help on the water, you can now summon the U.S. Coast Guard with the press of a button. The Coast Guard just launched a new high-tech system of helping people in distress on the water in the Pacific Northwest.

The i911 system allows mariners to send their location data with a simple reply to a text message.

“It essentially just takes advantage of the proliferation of smartphones, and just how common those are on the water,” said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Colin Boyle.

Before going out on the water, mariners can put their number on file with the Coast Guard. If a family member reports the boater has not arrived back at the planned time, the Coast Guard can text the phone number, enabling the missing mariner to share their location data by pressing a button.

“All we need is their cell phone number — if we punch in that number, it will send a text message to that number,” he said. “And if they click the button, they start sharing their location with emergency services.”

Boyle said it works better than calling, because if phone reception is spotty, sending a text is easier than trying to stay connected for a period of time on a phone call.

There is no need to download an app, and the system works with both Androids and iPhones. It can be used up to 20 nautical miles off-shore.

Boyle said the i911 system has already helped save people in New England, where the technology premiered in March.

Boyle said the Coast Guard still considers VHF radios the most reliable system of communication on the water, and the new phone technology should not replace radios. Instead, he said, the i911 program is a new “tool for the toolbox.”


Annual Conference Information:

Annual Conference 2020 cancelled

The Board of Directors of the United States Life-Saving Service Heritage Association voted to cancel our Annual Conference this September 24 – 26, 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting unknowns of public gatherings. We look forward to seeing all of you at our 2021 Annual Conference, location to be announced later this summer.

The board is looking to host a virtual conference that would include the presentations by the selected speakers with a question and answer session. The presentations will be followed by an online annual meeting. Stay tuned for more information.

The board is researching options for virtual conferencing and if you have experience being a web host for similar events and would like to help the board please contact us.

If you have a story to submit for the next Life Lines please contact us through our website.

Also consider joining the Life Lines staff.  If you would like to be the editor or would like to assemble a few of the issues a year, the help would be welcome.  We are now three and more are welcome to join us.  If you wanted to have a role or contribute to the organization this is your opportunity to do so.