Lightships, Lighthouses and Lifeboat Stations is part history book, part memoir, written by Bernie Webber, recipient of the Coast Guard’s highest award, the Gold Life-saving Medal, and hero of the Disney movie The Finest Hours. While the public will recognize Webber’s name from the movie and the bestselling book by the same name, few people know that during his lengthy Coast Guard career he served on lightships (ships anchored in dangerous areas to warn other vessels of hazards) in addition to lifeboat stations (small boat rescue stations) and lighthouses. Webber poses the following question: “How did the lightship men cope with the isolation, constant loneliness, boredom, fear, or just sheer terror? All were part of life on board a lightship. Rough seas tossed the ship about, rearing up and down the anchor chain. This was a world of isolation, noise from operating machinery, and blasts from the powerful foghorn that went on for hours, sometimes days, at a time.” Webber answers that question in this book, drawing on a combination of personal experience and meticulous historical research. Discussions of men going mad, lightships being run down by larger ships, anchor chains breaking, and lightships cast upon shoals are offset with humorous stories and the author’s reflections on his best days at sea. Webber also explains some of the heroic actions of a few lightship men over the years, and points out that they received no recognition at the time. The isolation these men faced was intense, but they learned to make do with what they had. Fourteen historic photos are included, as well as a Foreword by Michael Tougias.
About the author
Bernie Webber is a the recipient of the Coast Guard Gold Life Saving medal and he is the hero chronicled in the book and movie titled The Finest Hours.
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