Chicamacomico Life-Saving Service
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This surf boat and life car were often put to use to save sailors and passengers in peril in the brutal Outer Banks waters of North Carolina along the Atlantic Ocean between 1874 and 1915.
In earlier years the brave surfmen would physically push their surf boats into the roiling waters to try to reach the ships in distress. Whenever possible, a rope would be shot over to the ailing vessel using a Lyle gun. Once secured, a breeches buoy (resembling a life ring with a canvas seat) or the life car (upper left) could be sent across to help rescue survivors.
The life car was nothing short of terrifying in itself. It was a steel capsule with airholes and no padding or seating. Holding up to 7 adults, the hatch had to be secured before it could be sent back across along the ropes to shore or a surf boat. Those being rescued had no way to see out of the cannister, nor any method of securing themselves. With the hatch being controlled only from the outside (and fortunately there is no record of any falling into the frigid waters and being lost), it must have added an even more terrifying element to any rescue.
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