We were strolling around Jack London Square in Oakland last weekend, when we stumbled upon a docked ship with an "Open for Tours" sign posted nearby. The ship turned out to be the decommissioned US Coast Guard Lightship RELIEF – WLV 605, and the tour was fascinating.
The Lightship is a floating Lighthouse that was manned 24 hours a day out at sea. There were several of them posted permanently off the west coast for over 70 years, serving as guides for ships approaching major ports, such as those in the San Francisco bay and Puget Sound. With the advent of GPS navigation technology, the Lightships were retired, and with the dedication of the volunteers at the US Lighthouse Society, the WLV 605 was restored and berthed in Oakland.
A retired Navy Pilot named Bob gave us a personal tour of the ship, from the decks to the engine room. It's easy to enjoy exploring the different compartments of a ship, especially when climbing ladders through various hatches. If you have a free hour or so next time you are in Oakland, be sure to check out the Lightship. And say hi to Bob for me!