Amagansett Life-Saving Station Gets a Rare Gift

Pictured Above: Mayda Idone with Scott Bradley, and Michael Cinque, Co-Presidents of the Amagansett Life-Saving & Coast Guard Station Society

The Amagansett Life-Saving & Coast Guard Station Society has just received the donation of an exceptionally rare United States Life Saving service era artifact: a No. 2 Tally Board. 

A tally board was used to deliver instructions to vessel sin peril. It is simply a board, weighted at one end with printed instructions (English on one side and French on the other) telling the mariners how to aid the surfmen in their rescue efforts.  

Mayda Idone donated the Tally Board to the society in the name and memory of her late husband, Philip Idone. Both Mayda and Philip have been long time supporters of the Station and have sponsored other artifacts in the Society’s collections in the past.

On one side, the tally board reads as follows:

“(L’autre cote.) Make the tail of this block fast to the lower mast well up. If masts are gone then to the best place you can find. Cast off shot line, see that the rope in the block runs free & show signal to the shore.”

On the other side, it reads:

“(Other Side) Fouettez la poulie le plus haut possible sur le bas mat, ou a l’endroit le plus favorable si les bas mats sont perdus. Detachez le ligne, voyez que la corde coure facilment dans la poulie, et faites signal au rivage.”

When nineteenth century life savers arrived at the scene of a wreck, one of their first jobs was to fire a projectile attached to a “shot line” to the stricken vessel. Once the shot line was retrieved by the sailors on board, it was hauled to the ship. 

On shore, the keeper of the life-saving station would have attached the “whip line,” the “tail block,” and a “tally board” to the shot line. 

The tally board instructed the shipwrecked crew how to secure the block and whip line to the ship. Next, the life savers rigged a sand anchor, hawser and breeches buoy and proceeded with the rescue of the vessel’s crew.

A tally board is one of the rarest artifacts of the USLSS and Society representatives say this tally board is in good overall condition.

Scott Bradley and Michael Cinque have just taken over the helm of leadership of the Society, succeeding long serving President David Lys, who will remain a member of the Board of Trustees. The board thanks Mr. Lys for his enormous contribution to the restoration of the station and the creation of a museum there to preserve and tell the story of the Amagansett Station, its surfmen, and America’s fast-vanishing Life-Saving and early Coast Guard stations and watercraft.

“The Board of Trustees would like to express our greatest appreciation to Mayda and Philip Idone for their continued support of the mission of the Amagansett Life-Saving & Coast Guard Station Society,“ said the Co-Presidents in a statement. 

Beth Young

Beth Young built her first boat out of driftwood tied together with phragmites behind her family’s apartment above the old Mill Creek Inn in Southold. Nowadays, she spends most of her time kayaking, learning about shellfish, writing newspaper stories, trying to sail a Sunfish, and watching the way the bay changes from day to day. You can send her a message at [email protected]

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