Handkerchief shoals is a family-owned 26 room motel located half a mile from Nantucket sound. The name of our Cape Cod inn comes from the historic Handkerchief Shoals Lightship, which served the waters of Nantucket Sound until 1951. Lightships were deployed where lighthouses could not be built due to unsuitable conditions. Crews and supplies were brought to the lightships from small Coast Guard Stations dotted along the mainland.
The Handkerchief Shoals Lightship was one of many that helped mark safe passage through the treacherous waters of "Monomoy Passage" on Nantucket Sound, a busy shipping route for vessels traveling between Boston and New York. The lightships helped to warn these vessels of dangerous shoals and shallow sandbars in the dense fog that often descended on the Sound in the spring and summer months.
This famous lightship sat 10 miles south of Harwich Port, and on a day with good visibility it could be seen from Wyndemere Bluffs. Sometimes it was possible to hear its distinctive air horn from the mainland too. Standing at two stories high, the lightship was a formidable sight up until its retirement on June 7th, 1951. Today an unlighted nun buoy (N'14') bobs in the place once occupied by the lightship. There are still a few seamen alive today who used the lightship to navigate the waters of Nantucket Sound.