Lightship Overfalls Returns to Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

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Lightship Overfalls Returns to Delaware

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Lightship Overfalls spent nearly eight months in Norfolk, Va. undergoing restoration work to its hull, Overfalls Maritime Museum President Bob Humes said. (Photo: WBOC) Lightship Overfalls spent nearly eight months in Norfolk, Va. undergoing restoration work to its hull, Overfalls Maritime Museum President Bob Humes said. (Photo: WBOC)

LEWES, Del.- Roars of cannons and cheers from onlookers welcomed back the historic Lightship Overfalls to Delaware on Sunday.

The ship spent nearly eight months in Norfolk, Va. undergoing restoration work to its hull, Overfalls Maritime Museum President Bob Humes said.

A crew of volunteers traveled to Norfolk and began the trip home Saturday with the help of a tugboat. The Overfalls entered the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal around 2 p.m. and arrived at its home slip less than an hour later.

"What better than something of maritime history right in this tiny little town," said Humes. "We're just fortunate to have it."

The Overfalls is one of just seven lightships in the United States still around and open for tours, Humes said. Dozens of people surrounded the slip Sunday afternoon to watch as crewmembers secured the ship in place. Volunteers draped a nearby landing with American flags and held a party to celebrate the homecoming. Crews will spend about a week cleaning the Overfalls so they can open it up for tours, Humes said.

The one-day journey home is a short one compared to the nearly 20 years the ship spent stuck in the mud near the Life-Saving Station in Lewes. The vessel was finally freed last October following dredging but needed hull repairs because of wear and tear, said volunteer John Kyritsis.

Volunteers coordinated the effort to tug the boat up the Delaware Bay, across the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and down to Norfolk for repair work. Humes said the repairs wrapped up in February and the contractor stored the boat for free until it could return to Delaware.

"We're anxious to see the ship return to its slip as are many of the local people here in town," said Kyritsis.

The museum is hoping roughly $400,000 in federal stimulus money can be used to build a new berth and bulkhead for the Overfalls at its longtime home. Lewes is one of several homes for the ship, which was stationed outside of Boston, Martha's Vineyard and Long Island before being decommissioned in 1970's, Humes said.

The Overfalls was damaged in a storm just before its decommission and arrived in Lewes in 1973, Humes said.

For the past 10 years, volunteers have donated more than 30,000 hours to maintaining and repairing the ship, Kyritsis said. Humes said the ship will likely need to leave Delaware every 10-to-12 years for hull maintenance. For now, volunteers and crewmembers say they are happy to have the Overfalls home.

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