The Buzzards Bay Coalition has commissioned Newport’s IYRS School of Technology & Trades to construct a new replica lifeboat for the Horseneck Point Life-Saving Station.
The current lifeboat was loaned to the Buzzards Bay Coalition from Cuttyhunk Island and will be returning to the Island to be showcased in their own visitors center. The new replica is based on the Race Point Surfboat, the closest design to the original lifeboats that once protected mariners on the waters off Horseneck Point.
Built in 1888 to protect sailors along this dangerous stretch of Buzzards Bay’s coastline, the Life-Saving Station is one of the last of its kind in Massachusetts, and the only one on Buzzards Bay. After being decommissioned in 1913, it lived several lives before being restored to its original appearance by the Westport Fishermen’s Association in 2007. The restoration was completed in 2009 and the Life-Saving Station was opened as a museum and visitor center in 2014.
IYRS, renowned for its expertise in traditional and contemporary boatbuilding, has embraced the challenge of breathing new life into this historical artifact. The school’s commitment to preserving maritime craftsmanship and heritage aligns seamlessly with the Buzzards Bay Coalition’s mission to protect and restore the Buzzards Bay ecosystem while fostering an appreciation for its maritime history.
The Race Point Surfboat, a design that emerged in the late 19th century, played a crucial role in the efforts of life-saving stations like the one at Horseneck Point. These boats were meticulously crafted to navigate treacherous coastal waters and swiftly respond to distress calls.
The construction process involves a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern techniques, ensuring the replica not only captures the essence of the original design but also meets contemporary safety standards. Vice President of Outdoor Exploration Stuart Downie shared his excitement about the new vessel’s impact on Buzzards Bay Coalition’s outdoor learning and community programs. “We’re thrilled to soon have a brand-new lifeboat that will not only represent the history of Horseneck Point Life-Saving Station, but also breathe life back into the museum with exciting new programming connecting the local community with Buzzards Bay.”
The lifeboat replica is expected to serve dual purposes – as a functional vessel for educational programs and as a living artifact that visitors can experience firsthand. The Coalition plans to use the new lifeboat for rowing programs and community events throughout the years to come, providing a unique opportunity for the Buzzards Bay community to step back in time and experience a piece of local history.