Imagine men scrambling down 532 steep, slippery wood and concrete steps on a 280-ft. cliff in a raging storm to a 36-ft. boat…surrounded by waves and rocks, buffeted by brutal winds, tearing out to sea to rescue sailors on a ship in trouble. (enjoyportorford.com)
That was the challenge for the U. S. Coast Guard life-saving crew, called surfmen, who were stationed on this 40-mile stretch of treacherous coastline between Cape Blanco north of Port Orford and Cape Sebastian to the south in Gold Beach.
To fuel the lifeboats each crewman had to carry a 5 gallon can in each hand down the steps until the tank was full, even while battling winds in excess of 100 miles on the coast!(enjoyportorford.com)
From 1934 – 1970 a boathouse on Nellie’s Cove held the two 36-ft. motorized wooden lifeboats. A cradle mounted on rails was used to launch the boats. (capeblancoheritagesociety.com)
Today, Lifeboat Station 318 is an historical site.
The former barracks and office is now a museum.
To learn more about the life of a crewman, the Cape Blanco Heritage Society’s web site includes this article written in 2005 by Warren M. Hulburt, former Chief Warrant Officer of the United States Coast Guard.
After over 35 years of service, Lifeboat 36498 is retired here.
This 36-ft. mid-engine, self-righting, and self-bailing lifeboat
is an example of the 3 crew life-saving vessels used to rescue shipwrecked boats off the coast.
Check-out the links below, courtesy of the Cape Blanco Heritage Society, to find out about these shipwreck rescues:
Finally, I leave you with this Jeopardy factoid…
The predecessor of the U. S. Coast Guard (1915) is the U. S. Life-Saving Service (1848).