2012-05-10 / News

Islander writes book about ‘life savers’

Amazon.com recently announced the release of a new book titled “The Life Savers: Rhode Island’s Forgotten Service,” authored by Varoujan Karentz of Jamestown. This is Karentz’s third book about Rhode Island historic interests. “The Life Savers” follows “Beavertail Light Station,” the historical story about Jamestow n’s lighthouse, which was named Book of the Year from the U.S. Coast Guard.

“The Life Savers” tells of the heroic efforts and incredible stories about men against the sea and the U.S. Life Saving Service of the 19th century. Nine life-saving stations were located along Rhode Island’s south shore from Newport to Watch Hill, and at Block Island. Dramatic events culled from documented reports describe the forgotten service that saved lives off ships foundered on Rhode Island’s shores. At each station its crew lived together, taking shifts walking as beach patrol, looking for vessels in danger, then signaling them to change course or summoning beach apparatus and launching their surfboat to attempt a rescue.

Stories include the successful use of the breeches buoy where passengers or crew were hauled ashore directly from stranded vessels. Frostbite, exhaustion and boredom were common, as was the fear of the sea. Karentz brings this all back with a variety of actual shipwreck events, which happened at each station.

The men’s feats often resulted in acts of heroism – their motto was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” For almost 40 years they lived an extraordinary drama while at the same time making maritime history, which somehow faded into the past and disappeared.

Karentz is a retired engineering corporate executive who has lived in Jamestown for 23 years with his wife, Rose. They are both former live-aboard cruising sailors and have three children residing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., San Francisco and Portland. Ore.

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