Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eatons Neck Coast Guard Station

When I was about 12 years old, my parents along with myself and two younger sisters, swam ashore at Eatons Neck Basin and took an informal tour of the Coast Guard station. I don't think we entered any of the buildings, but instead just walked around the grounds and got a close-up view of the lighthouse and station. It was early on a Sunday morning and so long as we stayed out of their way, the Coast Guard crew did not seem to mind our visit. Some other people anchored nearby had the same idea, and like us, they were on their way about 40 minutes later.
When I anchored here last summer, the station was off-limits to visitors. This was really no surprise as many stations began restricting access as early as the 1980's. Those that continued an open-door policy, soon changed following September 11, 2001.

There are four Coast Guard stations presently located within Long Island Sound: Kings Point, Eatons Neck, New Haven, and New London. Just beyond the Sound are the New York Harbor and Montauk stations, while the Block Island station is now closed.

Coast Guard Station Eatons Neck is the only local station to have a lighthouse on its grounds. The lighthouse was built in 1799 and is the second oldest in the State of New York (Montauk Point is the oldest). A life saving station has existed here since the early 19th century, while the present Coast Guard station was built around 1875.
With a few exceptions, I have  found the stations to be very attractive. Many of the buildings are from the late 19th century, and often look like some waterfront prep school high upon a hill.  The white clapboard siding, red shingled roof, and large flagpole are a sure giveaway however, that this is a Coast Guard station (or once was).
In recent years I have noticed that many of the boathouses appear to be falling into disrepair. My guess is that as boat technology has advanced, the boathouses have become obsolete. Today, many of them seem to be used as a storage facilty or repair shop. If you look closely at the photos above, you can see holes in the roof.
Last week while I was preoccupied with the grounding of the Alabama, a fire broke out at the Coast Guard station in Menemsha, on Martha's Vineyard. According to reports, the boathouse and docks were destroyed by the blaze. I have yet to hear whether or not they plan to rebuild. Whatever they decide, it seems unlikely a new structure will match the character and charm of these old red headed ladies by the sea.

USCG History: Eatons Neck Coast Guard (vintage photos) pdf
Coast Guard USA: Station Eatons Neck
Eatons Neck Auxiliary
Lighthouse Friends: Eatons Neck Lighthouse (map included)
Vineyard Gazette: Menemsha Fire Destroys CG Boathouse
Soundbounder: Eatons Neck Basin


Anonymous said...
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Michael Benabib said...

Last year a fire destroyed the boathouse at Eatons Neck
It is completely gone now.
Also while anchored in the basin last weekend I approached the security guard that guards the surrounding land by the basin.
It is marked NO LANDING, so I asked what the story was as I usually exercise my riparian right to land and walk along the shoreline. The guard handed me a brochure explaining that the basin is manmade carved out of private land that the owners still pay taxes on and as such landing was not permitted.

Jeannette StG said...

This is how you got interested in what you are doing now as an adult?
Too bad that they can't find other use for the boat houses!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware of that. Didn't see anything online or in the news about it either.
I believe the surrounding land is part of the Morgan estate. That's been off-limits for a while.

Yeah, I was exposed to the Sound at a fairly young age.

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