Sunken Lightship emerges as Restaurant

The Frying Pan Lightship.

The Frying Pan Lightship is a National Landmark.

The story of Frying Pan Lightship reads like a mystery novel with many twists and turns. After sinking twice and laying submerged for 3 years who would have thought it would end being part of a popular restaurant in Manhattan?

The lightship is docked near Pier 66.

The Frying Pan Lightship is docked at Pier 66.


Like all Lightships the Frying Pan is a floating lighthouse built to withstand storms and dangers like hurricanes. Yet it was the sad fate of the Frying Pan Lightship to survive World War II and Hurricane Donna in 1960 only to lay submerged for three years before finding new life in New York. How did all this happen? 

A view of the Frying Pan Lightship.

A view of the Frying Pan Lightship.


Light Vessel #115 or the Frying Pan Lightship was built in 1929 to help vessels avoid the treacherous Frying Pan Shoals near Cape Fear, North Carolina. The shoals are sandbars that look like long handed frying pans. 

A view of the lightship from the restaurant.

A glimpse of the lightship from Pier 66 Maritime Restaurant.


The Frying Pan Lightship stayed at Cape Fear for several decades. It left briefly to serve during World War II near the Panama Canal. After several years, the lightship was replaced in 1964 by a light tower and then sailed to Cape May, New Jersey to serve as a relief lightship. 

Two years later it was donated as surplus by the Coast Guard to a maritime museum in Southport, North Carolina. When the museum fell on hard times, the lightship sank at the dock. The lightship eventually was refloated and moved to Whitehaven, Maryland. 

After a pipe burst, the lightship sank again and was submerged for three years. Down but not out, the Frying Pan Lightship was bought, salvaged and restored. The lightship then was dry docked in Baltimore and eventually taken to Philadelphia. The lightship sailed to New York where it now serves alongside a restaurant. 

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Coast Guard Families Need Your Help 

Amelia Island Lighthouse, Florida

The Coast Guard is responsible for the functioning of the beacon at Amelia Island Lighthouse on Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Looking for practical ways to help those impacted by the government shutdown. Donations are needed by The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. They assist Coast Guard members and their families with unexpected financial expenses. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military not being paid during the government shutdown. All donations are appreciated. Check out the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance website for more details.

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Everybody but the Coast Guard 

Hillsboro Lighthouse

Hillsboro Lighthouse in Florida is manned by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that is not being paid during the government shut down. They save lives and help those at peril on the high seas. Now their lives are in peril. 

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A Damsel in Distress

Star of the Sea Youth Hostel

Star of the Sea youth hostel was formerly a life saving station.


It’s kind of ironic that I stayed at the Star of the Sea Youth Hostel in Nantucket. I really needed a reprieve from a chaotic visit to Martha’s Vineyard. The hostel was once a life saving station for distressed vessels. Now I was looking for shelter from a distressed encounter. 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse can be seen from the ferry.


Although the ferry ride was about a hour from Martha’s Vineyard, it felt a world away from the turmoil I had witnessed. I was happy to retreat to Nantucket for a few days of painting and quiet.

Old Brant Point Lighthouse

Most people don’t realize this a lighthouse because the lens is missing.


I had reluctantly booked a stay at the hostel. I thought the military style sleeping arrangements would not offer the peace and quiet that I needed. To my surprise there was a curfew with a time of quiet at night. 

Sankaty Lighthouse

Sankaty Lighthouse took a little maneuvering to get to.


After three days of quiet and completing 4 paintings, I felt renewed. The hostel was beautiful and I memorialized my visit by painting it. Of course the weather was windy and the water turbulent on the ferry ride back to Martha’s Vineyard. I was afraid it was an indicator of things to come. 

Surfside Life Saving Station in Nantucket, MA was established in 1874. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to today’s United States Coast Guard. It is a National Landmark.

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You May Hold the Key

Many lighthouses are owned by non profits.

Many lighthouses like the St. Augustine Lighthouse are owned by non profits.


In 2016, Florida Keys Reef Lighthouses were listed among the most endangered historical sites by a Preservation group. Now the fate of the Lighthouses may soon be in the hands of the public or non profits.
Five Keys Reef lighthouses have been declared excess by the Coast Guard. They will be offered for free to a non profit or government agency. If that fails the Lighthouses will be put up for public auction.
According to Adam Rondeau, regional public affairs officer for Government Services Administration, “The disposition of these lighthouses will be conducted in accordance with the National Lighthouse Preservation Act.” (Miami Herald)

The best deal in Nantucket

Granted Nantucket is known as an upscale resort with pricey hotels. The visitors read like a who’s who list from Fortune 500. Despite of all the pricey obstacles, I was lured by the four lighthouses. I was also intrigued about staying at a historic building. Star of the Sea Hostel in Nantucket was once a Life Saving Station. It had been a part of the United States Life Saving Service.


I admit to being reluctant about staying at this hostel. I mean I didn’t know to expect when I booked two nights for $80. That wasn’t exactly the going rate in Nantucket. Yet, I recalled saving a bundle of cash and being happy when I stayed at the dorms at historic Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and Suffolk University in Boston. But a dorm with 32 bunk beds didn’t seem very inviting. I wondered about privacy and the bathrooms.


But the excitement of staying where the Keepers would look for shipwrecks was persuasive. There are steps to the lookou in the women’s dorm where I would be sleeping. I finally voted in favor of the lookout, lighthouses and my pocketbook when I read all the positive reviews. 


Once I checked into the hostel all my concerns evaporated. The furnishings were modern and well kept. The bathroom had a private door. 

My bunk was on the bottom in a quiet corner of the dorm. The first night the dorm was packed. But at night the dorm was quiet because everyone observed the quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am. I watched a movie with the free wifi and put my phone on silent. 


In the morning there was a light complimentary breakfast with cereal, coffee and assorted breads. For those who want to prepare a heavier meal, there’s a fully equipped kitchen with dishes, pots and more. 


My second evening at the hostel was extremely quiet as most of the quests had checked out. During my stay, three ladies were kind enough to befriend me and invite me to sit at their table. I learned from them that there are cabins for rent in addition to the beds in the female dorm. They also taught me the truth of hostel’s motto: “There are no strangers only friends you haven’t met.” 

Escape to Nantucket 

After spending a few hectic days on Martha’s Vineyard, I took a two day retreat to Nantucket Island. Last year while in New York, I read about the island and its four lighthouses. So I hoped perhaps one day, I would visit Nantucket. I filed the article away on a shelf with the thought in the back of mind. 

When my cousin invited recently me to visit Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, I immediately thought of Nantucket and the lighthouses. I wondered how far it was from Martha’s Vineyard. To my delight, I discovered that there was a ferry from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket for a little over an hour. The round trip ticket for Nantucket was less than $70. As I researched hotels, I found them to be out of my budget. I discovered a hostel for $38 a night! The hostel, Star of the Sea, was once called Surfside Life Saving Station. 

Surfside Life Saving Station was established in 1874. It is a National Landmark. The lookout where keepers would search for distressed vessels was located in the hostel’s female dormitory. The idea of staying at a Life Saving Station intrigued me. The Life Saving Service is the precursor to the United States Coast Guard. After learning about the hostel’s connection to the Coast Guard, I decided to investigate further. After all, the Coast Guard oversees many lighthouses. The reviews I read were stellar, so I booked two nights at the hostel. I began looking forward to my stay at Nantucket a few weeks later.