A Nantucket lightship is narrowly saved from destruction and reborn as a luxury charter vessel.
It was not your typical eBay purchase. Back in 2000, Bill and Kristen Golden had been following a local news story about a Nantucket lightship that was to be sold on the popular auction website. “She was owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was being operated as a museum,” explains Bill. “The Commonwealth couldn’t upkeep her anymore and decided to scrap her. There was public outcry, so instead they decided to sell her on eBay and, unfortunately, mostly scrappers were bidding. “We came in and outbid them.”
What might have been a very sad story for maritime and history enthusiasts turned out to be a happy ending. The ship was saved intact, and the Goldens wasted no time in setting about refurbishments with the goal of establishing her as a luxury charter for vacations and events.
The story of the Goldens’ Nantucket Lightship WLV-612 goes back to Curtis Bay, Maryland, where it was built in 1950. “It was the second to last lightship built in America,” explains Bill. “And it was one of only two boats built by the Coast Guard, for the Coast Guard. Since the first American lightship was built in 1820, this newer version represented nearly 130 years of technological innovation in designing a ship whose main function was simply to stay put,” he adds.
She was originally posted off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Later, she served off Cape Mendocino in California; Portland, Maine; and, finally, Nantucket Island. It was common for a lightship to be renamed for each new posted station—the 612’s Nantucket moniker is a product of her final assignment.