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Contact: Jody Anastasio, 508-487-2100 x 0920
This year marks the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Coast Guard. To honor the agency's rich past and the vital role it continues to play in saving lives, Cape Cod National Seashore will host Coast Guard Night on August 27 at Old Harbor Life-Saving Station Museum at Race Point Beach in Provincetown. During the
6 PM event, national seashore staff will reenact the historic "beach apparatus drill," an activity that was practiced weekly during the late 1800s and early 1900s by men of the U.S Lifesaving Service (USLSS), predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard.National seashore staff reenact this drill for the public every Thursday in July and August. August 27 is the final drill of the season, and the public is invited to attend.
The drill simulates a practice session for a rescue method that the USLSS utilized when conditions were too rough to send a surf boat to a shipwreck. During the drill, a projectile carrying a rope was fired from a small cannon out to a target in the sand that simulated the mast of a ship. "Victims" on this target—a tall pole that represented the mast of a ship—tied off lines by which a breeches buoy was sent out to the "wreck" to haul one victim at a time to shore. The reenactment is a faithful reproduction of this historic practice session. The weekly on-land trainings prepared crews to perform actual rescues on the beach, often in the winter or at night, under poor weather conditions. Every minute counted when wooden ships were breaking apart on treacherous offshore sandbars that gave the Outer Cape the nickname, "Graveyard of the Atlantic."
For this last drill of the season, Cape Cod National Seashore has invited crews from Coast Guard Stations Provincetown and Chatham, as well as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, to take part in the event and to celebrate the rich legacy of the U.S. Coast Guard.
If You Go: Meet at Race Point Beach in Provincetown. Admission is $5 for adults;$2 for seniors over 62, and children 7 to 16;children 6 and under, free. Children are invited to participate in Junior Lifesaver activities before and after the drill, and the public is invited to tour the station after the drill.