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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 320 pages of information about American Merchant Ships and Sailors.

Page 330:  changed volent to violent
          changed trumphantly to triumphantly

CHAPTER X

THE SAILOR’S SAFEGUARDS—­IMPROVEMENTS IN MARINE ARCHITECTURE—­THE MAPPING OF THE SEAS—­THE LIGHTHOUSE SYSTEM—­BUILDING A LIGHTHOUSE—­MINOT’S LEDGE AND SPECTACLE REEF—­LIFE IN A LIGHTHOUSE—­LIGHTSHIPS AND OTHER BEACONS—­THE REVENUE MARINE SERVICE—­ITS FUNCTION AS A SAFEGUARD TO SAILORS—­ITS WORK IN THE NORTH PACIFIC—­THE LIFE-SAVING SERVICE—­ITS RECORD FOR ONE YEAR—­ITS ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT—­THE PILOTS OF NEW YORK—­THEIR HARDSHIPS AND SLENDER EARNINGS—­JACK ASHORE—­THE SAILORS’ SNUG HARBOR.

Into the long struggle between men and the ocean the last half century has witnessed the entrance of System, Science and Cooperation on the side of man.  They are three elements of strength which ordinarily assure victory to the combatant who enlists them, but complete victory over the ocean is a thing never to be fully won.  Build his ships as he may, man them as he will, map out the ocean highways never so precisely, and mark as he may with flaring beacons each danger point, yet in some moment of wrath the winds and the waves will rise unconquerable and sweep all the barriers, and all the edifices erected by man out of their path.  To-day all civilized governments join in devices and expedients for the protection and safeguard of the mariner.  Steel vessels are made unsinkable with water-tight compartments, and officially marked with a Plimsoll load line beneath which they must not be submerged.  Charts of every ocean are prepared under governmental supervision by trained scientists.  Myriads of lights twinkle from headland to reef all round the world.  Pilots are taught to find the way into the narrowest harbors, though they can scarce see beyond the ship’s jibboom, and electric-lighted buoys mark the channel, while foghorns and sirens shriek their warnings through flying scud and mist.  Revenue cutters ply up and down the coast specially charged to go swiftly to the rescue of vessels in distress, and life-saving stations dot the beaches, fitted with every device for cheating the breakers of their prey.  The skill of marine architects, and all the resources of Government are taxed to the utmost to defeat the wrath of Ocean, yet withal his toll of life and property is a heavy one.

Now and again men discuss the nature of courage, and try to fix upon the bravest deed of history.  Doubtless the bravest deed has no place in history, for it must have been the act of some unknown man committed with none to observe and recount the deed.  Gallantry under the stimulus of onlookers ready to cheer on the adventurer and to make history out of his exploit, is not the supremest type.  Surely first among the brave, though unknown men, we must rank that navigator, who, ignorant of the compass and even of the art of steering by the stars, pressed his shallop out beyond sight of land, into the trackless

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