What was life like on a Nantucket Lightship in the 19th century?

Time And Tide Horizontal

Episode 4 of Time & Tide, our popular new podcast, is available now. Host Evan Schwanfelder gives you a close up look at life aboard some of the oldest lightships stationed off of Nantucket South Shoals.


Evan Schwanfelder

Some of the largest concentrations of lightship anchorages on the East Coast were in the highly trafficked and heavily shoaled waters of Nantucket sound, but it goes without saying that by far the most isolated, most exposed and most extreme post in the entire lighthouse service was the lone Nantucket South Shoal Lightship, standing a year round vigil some 25 miles out to sea, south of Nantucket at the tip of the dreaded south shoals.

South Shoal Lightship

Above Artwork is from "Life on the South Shoal Lightship," Century Magazine; August, 1891 by Gustav Kobbe

There have been numerous lightships that served this post from 1854-1983, with many a tale to tell, but in this episode, Evan focuses on the particularly fascinating history of the first two lightships that made station on Nantucket’s South Shoals.

Enjoy the fascinating stories here