63-foot fishing boat smashed to pieces by pounding seas
On this day in 1950, a fishing boat with eight men aboard sank with no survivors off Chatham after its crew struggled for hours to remain afloat in a howling gale.
"The William Landry, a 63-foot scallop dragger out of New Bedford, was smashed to pieces by pounding seas while struggling toward a lightship stationed at Pollock Rip in Nantucket Sound," the Associated Press reported.
The Landry's fate became known for certain when wreckage from the boat washed ashore on Nantucket and was identified by LeRoy Anderson, brother-in-law of Capt. Arne Hansen, the Landry's 37-year-old skipper.
The Coast Guard told the AP that the Landry vanished "all at once" around midnight after Hansen and his crew battled for hours in the fierce conditions to make their way to the lightship.
When towering waves knocked the vessel's pumps out of operation, the crew bailed with buckets and at 7 p.m. was near the lightship, the AP reported.
From then until midnight, the crew of the Landry, in frequent contact with the Coast Guard, appeared to prevail against the storm.
"Then suddenly the lightship lost sight of the Landry's running lights," the AP reported. "Radio calls to the battered vessel went unanswered."
Running almost 9 miles from the elbow of the Cape at Monomoy to the northern tip of Nantucket, the Rip is a ridge of shifting sand, cut through with a handful of shifting channels. Strong tidal currents flowing in and out of Nantucket Sound meet weather from the open ocean to generate conditions that range from merely disorienting to completely treacherous.
Captain Hansen of the "Landry," after taking aboard a tow line from a Coast Guard cutter, chose to head for New Bedford. However, the tow line soon parted and the "Landry" tried to make it from Handkerchief Shoal into New Bedford on her own. It is believed the vessel sank somewhere between Stone Horse and Handkerchief Shoals, the wreckage was seen the next day off Great Point.
The first United States lightship was established at Chesapeake Bay in 1820, and the total number around the coast peaked in 1909 with 56 locations marked. Of those ships, 168 were constructed by the United States Lighthouse Service and six by the United States Coast Guard, which absorbed it in 1939. From 1820 until 1983, there were 179 lightships built for the U.S. government, and they were assigned to 116 separate light stations on four coasts (including the Great Lakes).
The Cape area lightships included Pollock Rip, Nantucket, Handkerchief, Stonehorse, Cross Rip, Shovelful Shoals, Succonnsset, Bishop and Clerks, Great Round Shoals and New Bedford. See the station map at the bottom.
The official use of lightships in the United States ended March 29, 1985, when the United States Coast Guard decommissioned its last such ship, the Nantucket I. Many lightships were replaced with offshore light platforms called "Texas Towers".
Some similar areas are turning to foreign student workers
On this day in 2007 is was reported that while business owners frantically search for replacements for the hundreds of Irish waiters, Jamaican cooks and Dominican housekeepers who will not get their summer work permits this year, other places across the Northeast have developed ways to get seasonal workers in an increasingly competitive market.
Among the more familiar sights on Cape Cod this Spring are the ''Help Wanted'' signs virtually everywhere.
Cape Cod holds job fairs and runs an extensive outreach program, even going to New England ski resorts and asking winter H-2B workers to extend their visas and work for the summer. They also look for workers locally, in central Boston and smaller communities such as Fall River, Mass. In New Jersey, some businesses have switched from the H-2B workers who can stay up to 10 months to foreign student workers who can only be employed for three months.
They also send recruiters out to Texas and Florida, in an effort to get H-2B workers in those states to extend their permits for four months and come to work for them. In some ways, the resorts on the Maine coast and in Cape Cod and along the Jersey shore share the same labor problems as the Hamptons. They are isolated communities, far from population centers, with no easy transportation to bring in workers and little local housing.