The Light

What is a lightship?

A lighthouse that floats, it serves the same function such as:

  • A light to aid navigation at night
  • A horn to warn mariners in fog
  • A radio beacon for longer range identification

Lighting the way
The Overfalls main aid to navigation was a 375 mm dual electric lantern located 57 feet above the water line. Rated at 15,000 candle power, (approximately 1,000 watts), it flashed every 3 seconds from dusk until dawn. On a clear night it could be seen for 12 miles.

The ship also had a dual diaphone fog horn with a range of 5 miles that sounded every 30 seconds in foggy weather.

A radio beacon with a range of 25 miles transmitted the call letters of the ship (NMJF) in Morse code. In foggy weather it was synchronized with the horn and broadcast every 30 seconds.

Click here to see Overfalls' full specifications.

Click here to read the about the history of lightships.

We've Made It!

This site tells the story of the eleven-year project to save and preserve one of America’s maritime treasures.  It’s a story of tens of thousands of volunteer hours of dirty work bringing one of the few remaining lightships back from the brink of ruin and all of the behind the scenes tasks that made it a reality.  It’s a story of community support that maintained the momentum when any rational person would have thrown in the towel.  And, it’s how this infectious community support spread farther afield raising the $1.2 million necessary to complete the project,

Historic Landmark Lightship Overfalls
Lewes, Delaware

The Lightship Overfalls is one of only 17 remaining lightships out of a total of 179 built from 1820 to 1952.  Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011, it is one of seven lightships in this country still open to the public.  (What is a lightship, you ask?)

Ship News

• 2016 Anchor Drop

The weather was perfect. The fires warm and toasty. Who could ask for more?

• 2016 Membership Renewal

Don't you feel a sense of pride when you see our beautiful restored Lightship Overfalls beckoning to all as she stands proudly in her berth? We hope so, because it is because of your membership, contributions, dedication, and good spirits that she not only is beautiful and a contributor to the City's well-being, but also a National Historic Landmark and thriving museum.

Renew today! You can either print and mail your form or process payment online. While you’re at it, ask your friends to join you in being a member too!

Events & Happenings

• Public Speaker Program - Lewes History in Postcards
Friday March 11th, 7:00pm St. Peters Hall, Lewes.
Details to follow in an eBlast.

• Breakfast with the Mayor
Saturday April 9, 8:30 a.m. at the Lewes Yacht Club
Join us as Lewes Mayor Ted Becker shares his vision for Lewes. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here or email Joan Reader (reetstu@yahoo.com). Reservations are required and must be purchased by March 25th.

• Season Opening Party
HOLD THE DATE: Friday May 27th, at the Virden Center
Details to follow!

• 2016 Delaware Maritime Hall of Fame Nominations
Nominations close May 31, 2016
Click for HOF Introduction & Eligibility Requirements
Click for The 2016 HOF Nomination Form

If you don't receive our emails of events, click here to sign up.
Click here for our Calendar of Upcoming Events and Ship Activities
St. Peters Hall is located at 211 Mulberry Street, Lewes DE

A Message from “Big Red

A starlit sky glistens on the lightship as the gangway creaks slowly with the wind and tide. The ship is closed now and few visitors come at this time of year although we still welcome some groups from time to time. But what a great season we had with over 4000 guests coming to say hello and learn about lightships.

All ages came to visit and talk with me and I enjoyed every visitor, children and adults. They asked many questions: where did I come from, how did I get here, how old am I. We tried to answer each question. Up on deck, down below, even to the engine room we went. We looked over at our new Monomoy lifeboat and told them about its history. I tell them to be sure to go through our maritime museum with many historical artifacts on display and to visit the ship’s store for souvenirs and gifts. Everything was great. I thank all those who kept me in sparkling condition to welcome our guests.

I’m resting now for the winter season. The crew still comes to check on me to be sure I am safe and secure in my berth. Work continues all through the winter and into spring to be sure I am ready for the new season. Painting and cleaning must be done to be ready for opening day in May.

Thank you to everyone who gave their time and talents in keeping me well maintained and shining bright. Please remember we always welcome new volunteers. Everyone can help.

This year the Overfalls Foundation strengthened its educational outreach by establishing a $1500 scholarship to be awarded to a qualified student enrolled in a maritime related course of study. All members can take pride in this initiative and look forward to continued educational outreach by the Foundation so that my great maritime history will be remembered and preserved.

A special thanks to all of our financial supporters without whose help we could not continue to be the beacon of maritime history for the Lewes community. I am proud to be a National Historic Landmark representing all Lightship sailors and I am counting on you for your continued support.

Hope to see you at the Anchor Drop on New Years Eve at the Lightship!

Thank you, again,

Big Red

See all our Business Members by Clicking here
(click on Members below to visit their web site)

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