Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse open house this Saturday, 9/4

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in South Portland, Maine, is a unique example of an offshore caisson lighthouse that's often opened to the public. The lighthouse was once reachable only by boat, but in 1951 it was connected to shore by a 900-foot granite breakwater.

The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse Trust opens it on Saturdays during the summer. There are only a couple of open houses left in 2010, including this coming Saturday -- check this site for details.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Innovative plan to buy Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse


I've just received the press release below from Bob Muller of the Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse Community. He's trying to acquire Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse off Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and he has a unique approach that could allow thousands of people to share in its ownership. The lighthouse is currently being auctioned under the guidelines of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. As of today, the high bid is $30,000. Final bids must be made by September 2.  

R. Carey Gersten, Community Communications
The Ram Island Lighthouse Community
PO Box Brunswick, ME 04011
Telephone: +1 (206) 792-9044
Email: cgersten@RamIslandLighthouse.com

Unique People’s Option Versus Private Ownership

August 30, 2010, Brunswick, ME – “We Can Keep The Beacon Burning” is the chant of the Ram Island Lighthouse Community which just launched a social networking project to preserve Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse. They’re aiming to be the highest bidder to acquire the lighthouse one mile offshore from Portland, Maine, as a “people’s option.” With a precious few 12 days to final bid, the Ram Island Lighthouse Community’s goal is to rapidly assemble a worldwide community of individuals finding charm in the ownership of a lighthouse, but never able to afford it as individuals. “Every kid and most adults would love to own a lighthouse?” says the Community Executive Director, Robert Muller. “Lighthouses have such a stoic, strong and gorgeous allure – a romantic icon standing in some of the most beautiful settings in nature.”

By creating a community of owners contributing $49 each for a ‘Keeper of the Lighthouse Membership Deed,’ the organization hopes to win the bid. Mr. Muller described the socially networked community as “a compelling people’s option to other potential purchasers from CT, NY and who knows where with different intentions to keep it in totally private hands. By joining our community with membership deed purchases, collectively the public will determine if our cooperative people’s model is a winner and gets the bid.”

This for-profit preservation model offers a unique twist where the members collectively assist in making the decisions through a voting process of how best to operate the lighthouse for the future. Muller continued, “We hope to crowd source ideas, especially how we want to sensorize the lighthouse with web, audio, weather, and other high tech equipment so people can actually experience the light through the internet.”

Mr. Muller has set up a corporate escrow account with Bath Savings Institute but needs to find a qualified agent for it.  If the bid is not won, escrow funds are either refunded or members vote to donate the funds to non-profits. The website is http://www.ramislandlighthouse.com to learn more.

The lighthouse, operating since 1905, has been put up for auction bid by the United States Coast Guard. It has major historical and navigation importance to the maritime community. Still a valued aid to navigation, the Coast Guard will continue to serve its navigational operation while the winning bidder will maintain the property under National Historic Registry Guidelines.

About The Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse Community:
An innovative for-profit preservation and conservation organization, it brings together socially networked communities of common interest to own, protect and steward treasured lands and sites of historical and cultural significance. Community members adopt an active voice through an interactive online presence and through persistent live internet feeds. Members together help determine the future of a property and build shared knowledge and experiences about all aspects including ecology, history, culture and local economy.    


If you would like more information or to schedule an interview with Robert Muller, please contact him at +1 (207) 956-0699 or bmuller@RamIslandLighthouse.com

Sakonnet Lighthouse under restoration

Rhode Island's Sakonnet Lighthouse is one of the most dramatic wave-swept towers in New England. It barely escaped destruction in the great hurricane of 1938, and it's taken a pounding in many coastal storms since it was built in 1884.

In January 2006, the nonproft Friends of Sakonnet Lighthouse received word that the group's application for $844,323 from the federal Transportation Enhancement Program had been approved. Along with bolt replacement, patching, and painting, there are plans to install better boat landing facilities at the lighthouse. The group has also privately raised close to $200,000 for restoration.

I received the following information in March 2009 from architect Deane Rykerson, based on a presentation given by John Wathne, a structural engineer and principal with Structures North Consulting Engineers of Salem, Mass.:
The structure is a cast-iron drum with an interior lining of brick. The structure tapers with thick flanged iron sheets engaging masonry. Although this is not truly a structural composite, the iron and brick interlock in such a way that one cannot move without the other moving. Brick growth, natural cement mortar harder than the bricks of the liner, and corrosion jacking on the inner faces and joints of the iron sheets, work together to announce the lighthouse's deterioration as a "paint problem" to passing recreation boaters. The primary problem with corrosion, and the primary consequence of paint failure, occurs at the joints of the panels of the drum, which are bolted but not welded and no longer watertight on the exterior.

Structures North decided to tear out the existing brick liner in vertical "lifts," dropping it into the void of the caisson below. This avoids the costs and environmental issues of disposal of the brick at this off-shore site. The cast-iron will be shot blasted on both sides then painted with a 3-part paint system (zinc-rich primer, epoxy, and polyurethane top coat). New brick will be brought to the site to replace the ruined liner.  John is full of admiration for his client group who has stayed with the project enthusiastically - even as its complications unfolded.
The contract for restoration was awarded in March 2010 to the Joseph Gnazzo Company of Union, Connecticut. Work began earlier this summer, and at this writing it's hoped the project will be completed by sometime in the fall. As part of the project, all the rust is being hydroblasted the rust off the tower's iron plates. All the rusted cast-iron bolts will be replaced by new stainless steel bolts. All the plates will be primed and painted.

I'm looking forward to seeing a gleaming, restored lighthouse in 2011!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bar Harbor sunrise

I took this photo from the window in my cabin aboard the "American Glory" during a 10-day Grand New England cruise with American Cruise Lines. I was a lighthouse guide on board the ship. It was a great time -- I'll be posting more as soon as I get a chance.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fall activities at Wood Island Lighthouse

Check out these upcoming events at Wood Island Lighthouse in Biddeford Pool, Maine!

This is an opportunity for a few people to join the New England Ghost Project (NEGP) in investigating the lighthouse for paranormal activity. The cost is $100/person. FOWIL will be providing free transportation. (All proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse for the restoration of the facility.)
To sign up, call the ghost line 207 468-8057. FOWIL will be providing free transportation. Spaces will be filling up fast.

The New England Ghost Project will be offering two tours of the lighthouse on Saturday September 11th at 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM. The cost will be $20/person

Reservations are required and will be taken after August 25th. Call our reservation line 207 – 286-3229

The Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse will be participating in this event again this year by offering tours of the facility. You can sign up for a tour after September 1st by calling our reservation line. 207-286-3229.

Visit the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse website for more info.

Plum Beach Lighthouse Repainting Project to Begin

Just received this from the Friends of Plum Beach Light in Rhode Island:

The Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, deed-holders of the historic icon located beneath the Jamestown Bridge on Narragansett Bay announce the beginning of the first phase of the repainting of the lighthouse.  Contractors for Abcore Restoration of Narragansett will be mobilizing equipment to the lighthouse today to prepare for the $50,000 repainting project funded mostly through money collected from the new Rhode Island Lighthouse License Plate Program.

For each set of $41.50 plates sold, $20 goes directly to the lighthouse repainting project.  Last October the RI General Assembly passed legislation giving the Friends the right to sell the plates, and since January the group has received more than 2000 orders for the plates. 

Two weeks ago at their "Plate Event" the first batch of more than 1600 plates were distributed by the lighthouse group and the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Since then the Friends have been collecting more than 30 applications per day as more drivers see the attractive new design."We were told by the DMV to expect many more applications once we handed out the initial order and some of us were skeptical," says Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse president David Zapatka. " Thankfully they proved us wrong and every day we get more and more applications in the mail.  It's been a great success and hopefully even more people will see the plates and want their own set."

The lighthouse is familiar to many state residents as having been abandoned and neglected for over six decades until a 2003 renovation saved it from further decay.  Now, seven years later it is in dire need of repainting.  It is situated under the Jamestown Bridge in North Kingstown and is subjected to daily assault from the harsh marine environment. 

The Friends were having a difficult time raising funds for the repainting until the license plates were offered.  Now, six months after first selling the plates, the results of their effort is about to pay off.  But Zapatka says they're only just beginning to raise money for the lighthouse.  "Many think the license plates are no longer available.  There is nothing further from the truth.  Two weeks ago our distribution  of the initial order was really the kickoff of the campaign.  That initial order gave us much of the money we needed to get the repainting started, but the lighthouse is going to need ongoing maintenance for years to come and any additional plate orders will go directly into caring for the lighthouse.  We hope to be selling the plates for many years."

In addition to the repainting, Abcore Restoration will be replacing and upgrading auxiliary lights at the lighthouse that illuminated the lower levels each night for several hours after sunset.  The Friends have also contracted the company to erect a new flagpole where the lighthouse smokestack once stood.  At the end of the project the group plans to raise the American flag at the lighthouse.  "It's really exciting because it will make the lighthouse look completely alive for the first time in over 60 years.  With constant breezes at the lighthouse it will give it a whole new look" says Zapatka.  The new flagpole will have its own solar-powered led lights to make it compliant with American Legion night time American flag flying protocol.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Restored peapod boat to be launched and rowed to the Rockland Breakwater Light

Not since the days when keepers staffed Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse has a trip to the site in a peapod boat been more historic than the row set for August 15, 2010.

History will be made when a restored late 1800s wooden peapod boat departs the shoreline of Rockland, Maine, for the lighthouse where the artifact will be placed on permanent exhibit inside the light station’s boathouse.

(L to R) Kevin Carney & Brian McClellan of The Apprenticeshop, and Brian Trask, vice-chair of the Friends of Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, take the restored late 1800s peapod out for a brief row in Rockland Harbor on August 2, 2010. Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.

Open Houses at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, NH

Inside the 1878 lighthouse tower.
Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse stands at Fort Point in New Castle, New Hampshire, one of the most historic spots in New England. Adjacent Fort Constitution was the scene of a raid in December 1774 that many people consider the first skirmish of the American Revolution. And the first lighthouse at Fort Point, built in 1771, was the first lighthouse established north of Boston in the American colonies.

The Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, offer open houses at the lighthouse every Sunday afternoon, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. The open houses will continue every Sunday through October 10.

You can read all the details about the open houses by clicking here.

The photos seen here were taken by Bob Trapani at the August 1, 2010, open house.

Volunteers Bob Hancock, Joanne Yeaton, and Pat Heffernan
Volunteers staff tables outside, offering literature and souvenirs

Volunteers at the August 1, 2010 open house, L to R: Ross Tracy, Jeremy D'Entremont, Robert Kearns, Jennifer Kearns, Pat Heffernan, Ruth Knowles, Sam Knowles.
Ross Tracy, chairman of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, tells visitors about the station's history.

Jeremy D'Entremont tells visitors about past keepers of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Robert Kearns told visitors about the still-active fourth-order lens, surrounded by a green acrylic cylinder.