Digest>Archives> May 2000

Lawyer Buys Historic Lightship on E-Bay

By Timothy Harrison


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Nantucket Lightship photo courtesy of Craig ...

In one of the most unusual nautical items to ever be auctioned off on E-Bay, the Internet auction site, a Massachusetts attorney has won the winning bid for the historic Nantucket Lightship 1 WLV 612.

The winning bid was $126,100. Attorney Bill Golden, of Falmouth, MA who bought the ship said his current plans call for the vessel to be restored and turned into a tribute to his 87-year-old father, a former Coast Guardsman who is still active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Golden said he hopes to find a permanent docking location and then use the ship for offices for his law practice and his wife's interior design business.

Although preservationists are happy that the historic vessel now appears to be saved from the scrap heap, they aren't pleased with Massachusetts' handling of the famous ship.

According to Doug Bingham, a former member of the volunteers of the lightship, as recently as last year it was virtually restored. All four main engines worked, all pumps, hoses, waterlines, electrical systems and electronic systems worked. Then, suddenly without warning, last year the Commonwealth of Massachusetts locked out the volunteers and turned off the heat, causing the pipes to freeze which, in turn, caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to many of the ship's systems. He said that now, "thanks to the officials of Massachusetts, all the main engines are cracked, the generators are useless, the water systems are frozen, the electrical systems, so carefully restored are useless."

Paul Guerino who was given the task by the State to dispose of the ship said that the Commonwealth had no choice but to put it up for auction. He said he spent seven months trying to find a home for it. He said he contacted several museums in Maine, New York and the Great Lakes and offered to give it to them free, but they either did not have the money or space to accept the ship.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts accepted the lightship from the Coast Guard 11 years ago, paying the Coast Guard $1500.00 for it. Berthed in Quincy it had been open to the public for tours. Part of the agreement when they accepted the vessel was that is was to show its main beacon and serve as a private aid to navigation. After extensive restoration by volunteers, the ship sailed into Boston Harbor in 1992 as part of the Tall Ships parade. That was the last time the vessel sailed.

"After the Tall Ship event, the public officials of Massachusetts lost interest in the ship," said Bingham. Bingham said that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts did not spend one penny on the ship and ignored all requests from the volunteers. Now that they have sold it for a profit of $124,500, Bingham feels that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has virtually sold part of the state's maritime heritage, and they should give the money from the profit of the sale to the American Lighthouse Foundation for lighthouse restoration projects around the state.

This story appeared in the May 2000 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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