I recently stopped at the Art of Consignment on Gutierrez Street and saw something I had never seen before at the Santa Barbara business.
However, that junk in an old wood box looked old and electronic, and I could see a light or lamp. I thought my partner, who is a professional photographer who loves to tinker, might like it. But what the heck is it?
There’s an old keypad white plastic unit in the box with buttons for HAIL, PA, FOG1, 2, 3 and 4, and a button called YELP, and ANCH, and so on. There’s one called MAN — which intrigued me, as perhaps that one summoned the handsome young deckhand with my glass of chardonnay. I saw one old telephone cord and a green box with “12VDC” stamped on it, and a large corroded handheld spotlight about 10 inches in diameter.
Perhaps a sailor reading this can help me. I have found what I believe this nautical gear might be, but I might be wrong. When I see objects like this, I think of how I could redesign them or perhaps make them work again just one more time. The big lamp looked especially inviting.
I think the keypad is part of a control box and is what is left of a Standard Communications Corporation Marine Loudhailer device LH5, serviced by Vertex Standard of Cypress 1993.
I found the manual online and learned that this was high tech in the day. (1993 somehow doesn’t seem that long ago, but it is ages in tech years). The workings include a system for hailing and listening back, and Intercom, and automatic signaling.
The signals allow your boat to alert other vessels on your status or maneuverability.
I had no idea that there were certain sounds for certain conditions. Here’s one example from the typewriter-typed 1993 manual, “A vessel under way but making no head way through the water must sound, at the same two-minute intervals, two prolonged blasts separated by an interval of about 2 seconds (press the LH5 FOG2 button.)”
How I discovered that the box was the control for a loudhailer was to Google “FOG ANCH YELP.”
Here’s what the buttons mean.
All FOG buttons repeat the sound every 2 seconds.
FOG 1 sends a 5-second blast.
FOG 2 sends 25-second blasts.
FOG 3 sends a 5-second blast followed by two 1-second blasts, and FOG 4 sends a 5-second blast followed by three 1-second blasts.
ACH sends a 5-second rapidly ringing bell, repeating every minute.
YELP sends a yelp of varying pitch, used by the Coast Guard and patrol vessels.
And MAN allows the use of International Morse Code, such as if the vessel is aground and in fear of collision. You might sound the letter “U” (sort-short-long). “U” is the international maritime warning code for “you are standing into danger.”
I imagine the green box is the electrical stuff I don’t know anything about.
But what is the big lamp? I believe it is a maritime signaling spotlight. Vessels back in the day had these mounted in a bracketed support, and this light could shine up to a quarter mile back then in 1993. Some models had a permanent anchor bracket to the bow and had a red and green light below the search light.
I am assuming the lamp dates from the 1980-1990s from the similar examples I found. These were useful as a general boat light, but I see that many of these vintage lamps are called deckhand spotlights.
For those sailors out there, you will have a chuckle, but I tried to identify what the age and brand was.
So here’s a few: The Maritime Signaling Search Spotlight (portable) Spartan model 361 from the 1980s, 12V, and often used on Chris Craft vessels. It could be a Taylor Made Sport Spot No. 970, a Deckhand Spotlight. A very pretty one but perhaps too ancient: a late 1930s Quarter Mile Ray Spotlight Searchlight.
Another similar one: A 1990s Quest Marine Products No. 207 Spotlight and the Vintage Attwood Marine Bow Navigation Light.
At first, I thought it was one of those police spotlights we used to see on the side of patrol cars, but the pitting on the shaft of the searchlight looked too much like salt air damage. If you have used this type of maritime gear, let me know what the value of such vintage gear is today, and if boat owners desire this gear. I would suspect not, as modern technology has surpassed such machinery.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart’s “Ask the Gold Digger” column appears Mondays in the News-Press.
Written after her father’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Dr. Stewart’s book “My Darlin’ Quarantine: Intimate Connections Created in Chaos” is a humorous collection of five “what-if” short stories that end in personal triumphs over present-day constrictions. It’s available at Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara.