Our lighthouse journey took a bit of a beating as heavy seas pounded our trusty Miss Cuddy II, parted her newly installed Hazelett Marine mooring at Graves Light and cast her ten miles to smash her on Strawberry Ledge at Situate.
Minot’s Ledge Light is seen in the distance as the guys from Sea Tow Boston and South Shore recover Miss Cuddy II, upright her, and float her away.
The North Atlantic’s merciless thrashing on the granite reminds us of the dangers of the sea. Yet Miss Cuddy II’s hull was left intact – testimony to the shipwrights at Safe Boat who built her for the US Coast Guard.
Fortunately the crew was safe at Graves Light the whole time. Many thanks (again) to Capt. Jim of Boston Scuba who came out to get us two days later when the seas were calm enough. The treacherous rocks and waters of Graves Ledge are no stranger to Capt. Jim, who rescued Miss Cuddy II a year ago.
As for Miss Cuddy II – she was floated back to shore and got a ride on a trailer. Meanwhile, we brought a group to dive around Strawberry Ledge and pick up the wreckage. Many thanks to state and local authorities for their help.
The Town Manager of Hull, our neighbor across the county line in Plymouth, has made a unilateral “land grab” to annex Graves Light and force us to pay property taxes, even though we were never part of the town. We’re not even in the same county.
We’re not going to let a town bureaucrat simply steal us, so we pled our case to the Massachusetts Land Court.
Here’s our side of it, as the Hull Times reported:
Dave Waller, who bought Graves Light in 2013, “said this week that his deed from the federal government describes the 10-acre property in terms of latitude and longitude and references Broad Sound Channel, a shipping route in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Documents provided by a US Coast Guard office in Virginia indicated that ‘the property is not located within the corporate limits of any municipality’ a concept that [a lawyer for Hull] disputes . . . .”
“‘When we bought the place, [federal documentation] said it was unincorporated territory in Suffolk County,’ said Waller . . . .”
“Waller said he filed suit when the town refused to rescind a property tax bill in the fall of 2019, after he had completed substantial renovations to the lighthouse. . . . Records at the Hull Assessors’ office value the property at $274,100, resulting in a tax bill of $3,552.42 for fiscal 2000.”
“‘Hull kind of came along about six years afterward [from when Dave Waller bought Graves in 2013], and the town manager just claimed it,’ Waller said, recalling that the assessor’s office initially told him that the bill had been sent in error. ‘But then they called back and they spoke to the town manager and that it was correct.'”
“He said that Graves Light was not included on Hull’s assessing maps until shortly after that phone call.”
“As late as this week [October 22], the maps displayed did not show Graves Light on Map 61, although it is listed in the online property database.”
“‘You can’t just look out the window and decide to add something to the map,’ Waller said. ‘It’s more that it seems like a land grab that ruffled our feathers, and we didn’t think that was fair. It just seemed wrong.'”
There’s a lot more to the story, and we’ll link to the original Hull Times article once it’s online.
Dramatic sea rescue! Proof that no matter how well you know Graves Ledge, the area is always treacherous.
Saturday’s calm seas beckoned us to the lighthouse for a maintenance check. Within an hour, a bit of wind sprang up and pulled Miss Cuddy II off her mooring to be thrown mercilessly onto the ledge, roiling in the surf and battering her hull.
These former Coast Guard Defender-class boats are built to take a wicked beating. Their work on Graves Light put them through the toughest tests..
So on Saturday, March 28, 2018, the seas broke Miss Cuddy II from her mooring and slammed her viciously into the basalt ledge.
But just as quickly as bad luck strikes, good luck came our way. The mighty men of Boston Scuba, passing by after work on their trusty dive boat Keep-ah, noticed our plight. Using their expert seamanship they threw us a line and towed us off the rocks to the safety of deeper water.
The culprit: The new mooring had been chewed down to a thread below water, a grim reminder of the relentless power of the North Atlantic.
We raise a glass to our rescuers Cap’t Jim and Master Diver Luigi! Thank you for saving Miss Cuddy II!
The guys from CCI Construction have finished reinforcing the Oil House and are waterproofing the tower, while up in Maine, cabinet makers Nat and Don are building some of the last of the magnificent interior furniture and fixtures.
Just before midnight during the Riley Gale, one of our cameras recorded the sea laying claim to our tool shed.
The gale pummeled Graves Light as the 27 foot seas smashed into the ledge, sending spray 117 feet to the very top.
This little clip shows the amazing power of nature. Like a great hand, a wave reaches up 20 feet to the dock, plucks the shed that was bolted to the timbers below, and drags it into the surf. See the video here on our Facebook page.
All the gear inside went to Davy Jones. Lighthouse insurance? What’s that?
It’s no great loss, when you think about it. Many people along the coast lost their cars and homes, and at least seven lost their lives.
We saluted the Amerigo Vespucci as it entered Broad Sound, passing us as a light fog burned off the harbor.
The ship is an Italian Navy training vessel. It honors the great Italian explorer – whose Latin name, Americus Vespucius, inspired the name of the two American continents and, consequently, our country.
Vespucci (1454-1512) proved that the American continents were their own land masses, and were not, as had been believed, parts of East Asia.
Graves Light is a historic landmark. At the outermost entrance to Boston Harbor and the tallest lighthouse in the Boston area, Graves Light is privately owned but continues to serve as a navigation aid run by the US Coast Guard.
The new owners welcome the adventurous public to enjoy the sights of Graves Light, but warn that there are no electrical, water, sanitary, first aid, or other facilities of any kind available to the public at the lighthouse or on Graves Ledge.
Graves Ledge is dangerous. Submerged rocks present a navigation hazard. We insist that visitors enjoy the ledge and lighthouse from the safety of their boat or kayak.
Meanwhile, follow us through this website, Facebook, and on Twitter @GravesLight.