Special to Standard-Times
Provincetown, Jan 3, 1933 – More than 100 officers and men are on duty in the 12 Coast Guard Stations of the Cape which are affected by the recent reorganization of the Coast Guard life saving service. An outlay running into thousands of dollars has been expended for buildings, equipment and maintenance; thus Uncle Sam provides a well-knitted safety unit along one of the most hazardous stretches of the Atlantic Coast
Next Jan 15 the office of the second Coast Guard District headquarters, in Provincetown, will be closed permanently by order of the government. Consummation of this edict will give an entirely new aspect to Coast Guard affairs on the Cape. The 12 Coast Guard stations which have been under the direct supervision of the Provincetown office, while their officers-in-charge have maintained almost daily a close personal contact with their district commander, will in the future report to the Third District headquarters at Wakefield, R.I. These are the Wood End, Race Point, Peaked Hill Bars, Highland, Pamet River, Cahoon’s Hollow, Nauset, Orleans, Old Harbor, Chatham, Monomoy and Monomoy Point Stations, which are listed in the order in which they extend from the tip of the Cape. All are on the “outside” of the Cape.
Each station will operate as a separate unit as in the past and will be directly responsible to the new headquarters on the mainland. It will be the first time in the 61 years since the U.S. Life Service established a headquarters on the Cape that the “men on watch” will get their orders from an office located off the Cape.
In 1871 this district was created with headquarters at East Orleans. Then there were 32 stations in the district, from Plum Island south and including Nantucket and the adjacent islands. Now the district is composed of 22 stations from Rockport to Monomoy Point. The U.S. Life Saving Service was in operation until 1915, when the U.S. Coast Guard took over the duties of protecting this dangerous strip of coast. Second District headquarters were re-established in Provincetown in 1904, this point being favored because of its harbor and the closer contact it gave the district commander when station crews engaged in offshore activities. That was the only change and from 1904 to the present time the affairs of the Second District have been handled smoothly and efficiently from Provincetown, seemed the most logical location on the Cape for this Routine
Meant Much to Cape
According to a Provincetown citizen prominent in local affairs, the establishment of the headquarters here meant considerably more to the Provincetown men in the service than appeared on the surface. This citizen pointed out that numerous keepers of the various Cape stations are Provincetown men. He argues that the local men won these coveted places because of their intimate contact with the district commanders here. It was not due to favoritism that they were chosen, he said, but because each man chosen for an important job was known personally to the headquarters chief who had ample opportunity to judge the caliber of the man before recommending him for promotion. “Taking this office out of Provincetown will mean a loss of thousands of dollars to the community,” the citizen concluded.
The Coast Guard on the Cape has its own telephone system, which extends for about 50 miles. There is a direct line from the commander’s desk to the Race Point Station, some three miles outside of Provincetown, and through the switchboard at Race Point the chief is connected at an instant’s notice with any station on the Cape. Coast Guards do not live the strenuous life of the men of the service a decade or two back when wrecks of sailing vessels were constantly piling up on the backshore, when radio communication at sea was unknown and the winters were much more blustery. Nevertheless things do happen from time to time and there are still opportunities for heroic work now and then.
It is expressly stated in the rule book that every station must be kept as neat as wax. The men are constantly polishing brass work, painting, doing odd jobs in the day-time. Every man except the officer-in-charge and the cook stands a four hour watch in the station tower. There he watches all that goes on on [sic] the broad expanse of sea before him; he logs every passing craft. If there is a fog the men patrol the beach as they do at night time. The stations on the Cape are spaced from five to ten miles apart. There is a halfway house between the stations. From sunset to sunrise the beach patrol from the station to halfway house is maintained. Each man goes on a two hour patrol, carrying a time clock, three Coston lights (red flares), a Coston holder and flashlight. His duty while walking the beach is to watch out for craft that come too close inshore. He trudges to the halfway house, there punches the time clock then telephones his station that “everything is okay;” then he proceeds back to the station over the same route.
Flares Give Warning
Sighting a vessel that is too close to land for safety, the patrol touches off a Coston light. The flare is a warning to the mariner to head out more to sea. When the patrol discovers a craft ashore he signals with two Coston lights. This is to advise the skipper that his plight is discovered and assistance will be given as soon as possible. Then the Coast Guard hastens to the halfway house, or to the station if that is nearer to report. He next goes back to the scene to await the remainder of the crew.
It is rare nowadays for the breeches buoy to be used to land a wrecked crew. The surf boat is used mostly for this work. The last time the breeches was used on the Cape was on Jan. 2, 1927, when the fishing schooner, A. Roger Hickey went ashore at 1230 a.m., a mile south of Cahoon’s Hollow Station. Seven men and a whip-pet dog were taken off in this fashion. About this same time the three-masted lumber schooner, Rhinehart, went aground west of Race Point Station. Her six men were saved with the breeches. However, this apparatus is used only when the seas are so rough a boat cannot be launched.
Coast Guards on the Cape in these days give aid mostly to fishing craft, freighters, coasters and pleasure boats. Since July the Second District stations have responded to more than 1,900 assistance calls.
The Wood End station, alone, has answered 154 of these calls. This station and the Monomoy Point station are regarded by headquarters as the two most important stations in the district. The former is constantly being called to sea to give aid to fisherman and others in trouble and since prohibition has been kept very busy on rum patrol in lower Cape waters. The Nantucket shoals are an especially troublesome spot for mariners, hence the Monomoy Point crew sees plenty of action.
The Wood End station is equipped with a power lifeboat, picket boat, pulling surf boat, a tractor and truck and beach apparatus. Race Point station has two surfboats, a tractor, truck and beach apparatus. Peaked Hill Bars, Highland, Pamet River, Cahoon’s Hollow, Nauset, Orleans, Old Harbor, have similar equipment. Chatham station is equipped with a picket boat, power surfboat, pulling surf boat, tractor, truck and beach apparatus. Monomoy Point station has a power surfboat, two pulling surfboats, a tractor, truck, and beach apparatus. Monomoy station is listed as inactive. It has but three men and it draws upon Monomoy Point station for equipment. The station has not been closed down because the region is regarded as too hazardous to be watched along by the Monomoy Point station.
The personnel of each of the 12 Cape stations is as follows:
Wood End – Boatswain (L.) Edward B Andrews, officer-in-charge; Boatswain Mate 1st Cl. Alfred Volton, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Joseph A. White, Motor Machinist’s Mate 1st Cl. Philip J. Oliver, Motor Machinist Mate 2nd Cl. John B. Andrews, Surfmen John Taves, Francis Rosa, John B. Wilson, Frank Souza, John Ferreira, Jule S. Cabral, James A. Caton, Henry G. Baker, Joseph A. Flores, John D. Marshall.
Race Point – Chief Boatswain’s Mate (L) James Morris, officer-in-charger; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Antone Lema; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Warren A. Ellis; Surfmen John McFayden, John Francis, Russel J. Davey, Ernest W. Showstead, Frank J. Souza, George W. Gove, Albert A. Willette.
Peaked Hill Bars – Boatswain’s Frank L. Mayo, officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Joseph A. Morris, Surfmen Manuel F. Silva, John F. Cook, Joseph F. Medeiros, Louis H. Silva, Raymond A. Brown, Morris F. Worth, Philip S. Packet, Warren L. Ellis.
Highland – Boatswain Emanuel F. Gracie, officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Manuel Henrique, Surfmen Arthur F. Cabral, William A. Forrest, Anthony K. Souza, Manuel Silva, William W. Costa, Joseph Cruza, Jr., Manuel Cabral.
Pamet River – Chief Boatswain’s Mate Hernaldo H. Kelley, officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Cl. Stacey P. Taylor, Surfmen Joseph V. Roderick, William N. Nunes, Joseph A. Gautreau, William A. Snow, John M. Souza, Charles Adamson, John J. Flores, Clarence J. Simmons.
Cahoon’s Hollow – Chief Boatswain’s Mate Addison N. Ormsby, Boatswain Mate 1st Cl. Charles R. Ellis, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Albert W. Paine, Surfmen William F. Silva, Daniel C. McInnis, Edward L. Doyle, Harris R. Bullerwell, Stanley Batt, Clifford B. Taylor.
Nauset – Boatswain George B. Nickerson, officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Yngve E. Rongner, Surfmen Henry Caranci, Herbert A. Eddy, Henry H. Hautanan, James M. Brown, Jules A. Serpa, Ralph L. Ormsby, Kenneth T. Young.
Orleans – Chief Boatswain’s Mate Henry O. Daniels, officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Oscar L. Snow, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Wilbur C. Chase, Surfmen Edgar W. Leighton, Arthur S. Cobb, John A. Dunlop, John R. Williams, Charles E. Davey, John A. Andrews.
Old Harbor – Boatswain Richard E. Ryder. officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Sherwood M. Fisher, Surfmen George H. Marshall, Frank Silva, Henry W. Watkins, Edwin D. Long, Lawrence F. Enos, Roy Mason.
Chatham – Boatswain Alvin H. Wright, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Magnus B. Peterson, Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. George F. Hillett, Motor Machinist’s Mate 1st Cl. Ansel Vallei, Motor Machinist’s Mate 2nd Cl. George A. Williams, Surfman George K. Harding, Frank Masachi, Edward S. Silva, John A. O’Brien, Bertram F. Dean, Lyman W. Nickerson, Robert N.S. Matteson, Manuel Souza.
Monomoy – Chief Boatswain’s Mate Anthony C. Travis, officer-in-charge; Surfmen Albert D. Nickerson, Lawrence DeCosta.
Monomoy Point – Chief Boatswain’s Mate John L. Caton, officer-in-charge; Boatswain’s Mate 1st Cl. Edward Silva, Surfmen Francis Souza, Manuel Cabral, Alfred K. Souza, Waldo I. Brown, James J. George, Bernard W. Pineo, Jr., Joseph A. Janard, Raymond C. Graham.