Digest>Archives> Nov/Dec 2015

Keeper’s Korner

Tidbits and Editorial Comments from the Tower


New London Ledge Gets New Owner

Ownership of Connecticut’s New London Ledge Lighthouse was officially transferred to the New London Maritime Society during a ceremony held on August 13. The nonprofit Ledge Light Foundation will continue to lease the lighthouse and continue with its efforts to restore the structure. Ownership was transferred under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

Laziness in TV Reporting

I’d like to say, “Now I’ve seen it all, when it comes to laziness in TV reporting,” but I’m sure I’d be wrong. A recent on-line story by WSBT-TV 22 in Michigan in reference to a story about the fundraising for Michigan’s South Haven Lighthouse used a CBS stock photo of Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Apparently they couldn’t find a photo of the South Haven Lighthouse, so they chose a stock photo from their files, figuring that no one would care or notice that it wasn’t really the South Haven Lighthouse, even though they are remarkably different in appearance.

New Lighthouse

Taiwan is building a new lighthouse on Taiping Island, (also known as Itu Aba) which is the largest of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in an area that has been involved in territorial disputes between Taiwan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Ancient Lost Lighthouse Discovered

Maritime archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be a 10,000 year old lighthouse 120 feet below the surface on a sea mount that was once a civilized island off the coast of Sicily that disappeared after a massive flood 9,500 years ago. The discovery is significant as it helps the archeologists begin to piece together the culture of the humans that once inhabited the submerged islands of the Sicily region of the Mediterranean Sea.

Wood Island Gets Donation

Maine’s Wood Island Lighthouse has received a donation of $50,000 from Judith Klement of Savannah, Georgia to be used toward the restoration of the keeper’s house, which is estimated to cost $218,000. The Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse has been raising money since 2003 to restore the light station, and a number of projects have been completed over the years.

International Event Tops 500

The Amateur Radio International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend held this past August 15-16 had 506 lighthouse locations in 32 countries where ham radio operators set up to broadcast. The 500th person to sign up was Michael Sealfon, who broadcasted from Alki Point Lighthouse in Seattle, Washington. Retired physician Gerry Metz, who had broadcast from Maine’s Little River Lighthouse in past years, decided to rough it this year by camping out on Maine’s Mistake Island where he broadcasted from Moose Peak Lighthouse.

The annual event was created in Scotland by John Forsyth and Mike Dalrymple to promote lighthouses and amateur radio operators. The 19th annual Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend will be held on August 20-21, 2016 and 30 amateur radio operators have already signed up.

Winkie For Sale

The Northern Lighthouse Board is selling the Point of Ayre Minor Light that is located on the northern tip of Isle of Man off the southern coast of Scotland. The lighthouse is also known as Point of Ayre Low Light, and known locally simply by the name Winkie. The base of the lighthouse was built in 1950, but the upper 20 feet of the tower is from the original lighthouse that was built in 1889. However, there are no living conditions in the structure, not even a bathroom or sleeping quarters. The asking price is $15,400. The new owner will have bragging rights, but will also have to maintain the structure; however, its function as a lighthouse was discontinued in 2010.

Michigan County Gives Funds to Light

After some discussion on whether it was legal for a county government to give money to a group trying to save a lighthouse, officials of Michigan’s Van Buren County voted to give $5,000 to the Historical Association of South Haven toward the restoration of the 1903 South Haven Pierhead Lighthouse in South Haven, Michigan.

St. Joseph Gets City Money

The City of St. Joseph Michigan has pitched in the remaining $113,000 needed toward the restoration of its pierhead lighthouses and catwalk. They money came from the city’s capital improvement fund.

Old Saybrook Gets New Owner

The Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse in Old Saybrook, Connecticut has been sold to businessman Frank Sciame, who also happened to be the chairman of the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City. Mr. Sciame, who owns the nearby former estate of the late actress Katherine Hepburn, said that he plans to turn the lighthouse into a guest house with bunkbeds for his grandchildren. Also known as the Old Saybrook Lighthouse, and the Saybrook Outer Breakwater Lighthouse, the tower was previously sold a government auction in 2013 to Kelly K. Navarro for $340,000 but the deal never went through because of legal issues about the submerged land under the lighthouse. For this second government auction, Mr. Sciame won the bidding with a high bid of $290,000. The lighthouse also appears on a “Save the Sound” automobile license plate.

Feds to Document Sunken Lightship

In what appears to us to be a waste of money, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, along with East Carolina University and UNC Coastal Studies Institute, are working to survey the wreck of the Diamond Shoal Lightship #71, which was the only United States lightship sunk by the enemy during World War I. The expedition was done to document the site, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places this past August.

Peck Ledge Sold

Connecticut’s Peck Ledge Lighthouse, also known as Peck’s Ledge Light, at the entrance to Norwalk Harbor in Long Island Sound has been sold in a GSA auction to a private owner for $235,000. The lighthouse had previously been offered for free to qualified applicants, such as nonprofits, but no one wanted it. (Photo by B. Denoyer.)

Lighthouse Activist Dead at 66

William Waterway (a/k/a William Waterway Marks), who lead the mid-1980s movement that saved all of the lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard from being destroyed, has died from cancer at the age of 66. At the age of 34 after he suffered a heart attack in the 1970s, he moved to Martha’s Vineyard to found and start the publications Martha’s Vineyard Magazine and Nantucket Journal. He wrote an award winning book and a National Geographic special on the importance of clean water in the world. He then led the efforts to save and restore all of the lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard, a story that he told in Lighthouse Digest. More recently, he was involved with those who saved the Gay Head Lighthouse by moving it away from the eroding bluff, and he wrote the book Gay Head Lighthouse, First Light on Martha’s Vineyard, which is available from Lighthouse Digest. He was a remarkable person who will be missed by us. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.

Last UTB Now On Display

The last of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Utility Boat Large (UTB) has now been placed on display in front of the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The CG-41410 now on display at the museum went into service on July 1, 1977 and served at a number of Lake Michigan stations. The 41-foot UTB class vessel has been one of the most successful boats in Coast Guard history. In all 207 of the vessels were built in the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland from 1973 to 1978.

A Must See Movie

Coming to movie theatres this coming January is a movie about the most daring rescue mission in United States Coast Guard history. The Finest Hours from Walt Disney Productions is about the 1952 rescue of the crew of the SS Pendelton by the Coast Guard motor life boat CG 36500 and a surfboat from the USCGC Yakutat. We’ve seen the movie trailers, and it is spectacular. This is one movie you will not want to miss. Many of us in the lighthouse community knew the late Bernie Webber, (1928-2009), the man who led the rescue mission. The real shame is that he did not live long enough to see this movie. Even if you never go to the movies, I would recommend that you make an exception to see this amazing true story that will rivet you to your seat.

Man Killed at Michigan City Lighthouse

One of six people who were knocked off the pier and into the water by a 10-foot rogue wave at Indiana’s Michigan City’s East Pierhead Lighthouse has drowned. The people were posing for photos when the wave struck. The man who drowned was scheduled to be married in a few weeks. His finance’ and two others were able to get back on the pier and the other two people were recused by a Coast Guard boat that was on routine patrol. (Photo by Dancia June Scott.)

Thank You

We wish to thank those who continue to mail us newspaper articles, local magazine stories, and photos about lighthouses from your parts of the world. Much of what is sent into us is very beneficial, and often times they pertain to items of interest that we were not previously aware of. It would be overwhelming for us to reply to each person, so we want you to know that we do appreciate it. So, please sending those articles of interest - it is sincerely appreciated.

This story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2015 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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