Monday, May 16, 2011

Trapped in the ice near Green's Ledge, CT

Life at offshore lighthouses was a challenge for many reasons. Isolated lighthouses were often difficult to access in the warm months, but even more so in the winter if ice surrounded the structure. Green's Ledge Light, a caisson lighthouse built at the entrance to Norwalk Harbor, Connecticut, in 1899, was no exception.

Sarah DeMaria has provided the following story involving her grandfather, Andrew J. Simso II, who was one of the Coast Guard keepers at Green's Ledge 1945-47:

He and another Coast Guardsman went ashore to get supplies in February. They docked about 6 or 7 p.m., retrieved the needed supplies and began home. In their efforts to return to the lighthouse, they attempted to follow a channel cut through the ice by another ship. Unfortunately, this was futile; the ship had passed too long prior and my grandfather and his fellow sailor became trapped as the ice surrounded their small boat, leaving them stranded.

In the pitch dark the men yelled for help but no one heard. They decided to try to walk back to shore on the frozen ice, but both men fell through into the frigid waters. The men managed to pull themselves out of the water and get back to the boat. The two -- shivering and freezing wet -- continued to yelled for help. This time people ashore, hearing their calls, contacted the authorities. The two men, on the verge of hypothermia, were rescued. 

For more history of Green's Ledge Light, click here.