Monday, January 31, 2011

Swim for the Lights Preview #2 (January 31, 2011)

I shot some more video with Gary Sredzienski today to promote his upcoming "Swim for the Lights" in Feb. 26. Click here for more details.

Special thanks to Jay Gingrich, owner of Portsmouth Scuba, for his generous support of this event!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nubble with snow one more time

Nubble with snow #4, originally uploaded by nelights.

And one more snowy shot of the Nubble Light from the other day. I think this one might be my favorite.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Serfs w/ Gary Sredzienski on accordion

Check out the Serfs performing "Ghost Riders in the Sky" at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. They'll be playing a benefit for lighthouses preservation in Kittery, Maine, on February 26 -- click here for details.

Nubble Light with snow AND a gull

Nubble with snow #1, originally uploaded by nelights.

Another of my snowy Nubble Lighthouse photos from yesterday. You get a free seagull with this one.

Gary S. inside Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Why is this man playing an accordion in the lantern room of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse?

This page might help explain it.

Click here to hear some of Gary's amazing accordion playing.

X-TREX Paranormal Journeys

Ron Kolek
I've just unveiled my new collaboration with Ron Kolek of New England Ghost Project and the "Ghost Chronicles" radio show -- "X-TREX Paranormal Journeys." 

Starting out, we're offering two cruises from Rye, NH -- a "Haunted Cruise" on July 9 and a "Ghost Hunt Cruise" on September 24.

We're going to be adding a "Dining with the Dead" event, with a presentation on haunted lighthouses, and also a "Haunted Weekend" event -- we're working on the details and these will be announced as soon as possible.

Click here for the X-TREX page

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nubble Light with snow

Nubble with snow, originally uploaded by nelights.

Just got back from getting some snowy photos of the famous Cape Neddick "Nubble Light" in York, Maine. This has been a miserable winter around here, but beauty like this makes up for the misery.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sea Smoke at Rockland Breakwater, Maine

This amazing photo was taken in the bitter cold yesterday morning by Ann Trapani, associate director of the American Lighthouse Foundation in Rockland, Maine.

Click here to see more.

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse with full moon

I was playing around with this photo on my iPod with an app called Camera+ ( and came up with this.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gary Sredzienski, Creekman and Accordion Warrior

Gary Sredzienski is a well-known musician in the Portsmouth, NH, area. He's also known as Creekman because of his passion for swimming in the local waterways. Gary swims all year, and he's done some long distance winter swims for charity. On February 26, 2011, he'll be doing a swim to benefit local lighthouses. See

This photo was taken outside at the top of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle, NH.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Swim for the Lights - preview video

I shot some video yesterday at Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse and put together this little piece to promote the upcoming "Swim for the Lights" by Gary Sredzienski. I'll be posting more videos of Gary in the coming weeks as we get closer to the event on February 26.

For more info, go to

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Boon Island Day event to be held in York on January 23, 2011

The public is invited to a special "Boon Island Day" event at Old York's Visitor Center at the Remick Barn, 3 Lindsay Road, in York, Maine, this coming Sunday, January 23, at 1:00 p.m. Five guest speakers will focus on the history of Boon Island, a remote, barren outpost about eight miles from the shores of York. The event is sponsored by Museums of Old York, with the assistance of the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF).

Jeremy D'Entremont, author and president of ALF, will present an overview of the history of the island and its lighthouse, established in 1811. Bob Trapani, executive director of ALF, will speak about his first hand experience with the lighthouse, which is under ALF's care. Maine author/historian William O. Thomson will discuss the colorful human interest stories of Boon Island Lighthouse keepers and their families.

Stephen Erickson of Portsmouth will discuss his surprising conclusions reached in his book on the infamous 1710 Nottingham Galley shipwreck at Boon Island. Warren Riess, a nautical archaeologist associated with the University of Maine, will focus on the archaeology of the Nottingham Galley wreck site and the 1995 recovery of cannons from the ship.

The event is expected to last about three hours. Admission is $10, and light refreshments will be served. Call (207) 363-4974 for more information. The storm date will be January 30.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Swim for the Lights on February 26, 2010!

On Saturday, February 26, beginning in the early afternoon, Gary Sredzienski will swim the following route: Odiorne Point (Rye, NH) to Whaleback Lighthouse (Kittery, ME) to Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (New Castle, NH) to the Kittery Town Dock at Kittery Point. The total distance is close to four miles, and the water temperature is expected to be about 35 degrees. Gary has been swimming all his life and has done long distance winter swims for charities including Seacoast Hospice, Share Our Strength, and the Krempels Brain Injury Foundation.

Gary is also a well-known musician who began his professional career as an accordion player at the age of 9. He performs 1960s surf rock, traditional ethnic, and original accordion compositions with the Portsmouth-based group, the Serfs. Gary also hosts a radio show, "Polka Party," weekly on WUNH-FM in Durham.

Following the swim on February 26, at 5:00 p.m., Gary and his band, the Serfs, will play at a celebration party upstairs at Captain and Patty's restaurant, 90 Pepperrell Road (Route 103) in Kittery Point.

The purpose of this event is to raise awareness and funds for the preservation of lighthouses. The funds raised will be split evenly between the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF), and the foundation's local chapter, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses (FPHL). ALF, a nonprofit organization based in Rockland, Maine, cares for 23 historic lighthouses in the Northeast. FPHL cares for Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle, NH, and Whaleback Lighthouse in Kittery, Maine.

To donate or to purchase tickets for the post-swim party, visit I'll be at the party -- I hope to see you there!

Click here to see a map of the swim.

Click here to read more about Gary.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blizzard at the Cuckolds Light

Cuckolds Light in 2009
As the first major snowstorm of 2011 rages outside my windows here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I've been thinking about the days when lighthouse keepers and their families lived at exposed light stations along our coast, enduring the worst nature could throw at them. One story of a winter storm at a New England lighthouse that made a major impression on me was related by Ramon "Kelly" Farrin.

Kelly lived with his wife and infant son at the Cuckolds Light Station on a small rocky island near Boothbay Harbor, Maine,  for about two years, 1969–70. They were the last family to live at the Cuckolds before it became a males-only “stag” station. Entertainment for the Farrins consisted of TV watching, guitar playing, fishing, and walking around the island. Kelly once wrote, "They say lighthouses are romantic, but I do know that this one had quite a reputation concerning the divorce rate. I would say it takes a sturdy relationship to endure that much togetherness. There is no time apart unless the wife goes ashore alone."

During the Farrins’ second winter at the station, a major snowstorm struck the area. At first, Kelly wasn’t overly worried, as the family had weathered other storms and he had no reason to think this one would be any different. His concern grew as the keeper’s’ house creaked and groaned from the wind. In his words:

The keeper's house was demolished in 1977. (U.S. Coast Guard)
When daylight came sometime around 6:30 I got dressed and went out and looked around. . . . A higher than normal tide had been predicted on the evening news so we all figured that the water would be up close to the boathouse. . . . We were getting a little concerned, as we had never experienced wind like this on the island. We really had no accurate way to tell what it was as the old anemometer had broken a long time ago. 

I went out again around 9 o’clock and by now I was getting more concerned as the wind wasn’t lessening and the tide, which had over two more hours to come in before reaching its full height was already washing well over the usual high water mark. It was around this time that the power went out and I started the generator. . . . On the east side of the house the waves were beginning to wash over the seawall and onto the side of the house. Again, this was normal for some of the more intense storms but at high tide, not with close to two hours left to come. 

I went up on the catwalk around the front of the station. . . . From here I could see the whole island was awash except for the house. The waves were now washing across the front lawn (what we called our few blades of grass) and the boathouse was taking a real beating on the northeast side. . . . 

My wife and I returned to our side of the house but I kept going outside to watch the action, sort of going outside and then back up to the tower. Looking down it didn’t seem so bad but the roar from the wind and then the blaring ofr the foghorn made things seem very spooky. . . . 

When the tide finally turned the wind dropped almost as rapidly. It was nearly halfway out before the water stopped hitting the side of the house and boathouse. It took a few weeks but eventually the men from Group South Portland came and rebuilt the boatslip and repaired the damage.

 Kelly Farrin shares many of his memories on his website,

The light was automated in late 1974 and the last keeper was removed. In many ways, I've never been a fan of the automaton and destaffing of light stations. But maybe it's a blessing that people aren't living at some of our lighthouses on days like this.

In May 2006, ownership of the Cuckolds Lighthouse was conveyed to a local nonprofit organization, the Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station Council.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New England Lighthouse Lovers: A Bright Light for Lighthouses

From Bob Trapani, Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation:

With the New Year nearly upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to the New England Lighthouse Lovers for another job well done in 2010.

NELL may not have a particular lighthouse under its care, but the American Lighthouse Foundation is thankful for the many lights that your chapter has helped this year, as well as in years past.

Click here to read the rest of this story.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse with Christmas lights, 12/31/10 (#2)

Another shot from last night's visit to the Nubble Light in York, Maine. The color in this one is a little less saturated, and I think I like it better.

Cape Neddick "Nubble" Lighthouse, 12/31/10

After a New Year's Eve dinner in downtown Portsmouth, NH, last night, my wife and I headed up to York, Maine, to see the annual display of Christmas lights. It was a relatively warm night, which made it easy to set up my tripod and take some long exposures like this one. In past years, I've nearly gotten frostbite getting photos like this.