Manager of Town of Hull makes ‘land grab’ to annex Graves Light

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.

We’ll tell our own story after the the Land Court rules on the matter. So for now, we’ll just cite Hull Times Contributing Editor Christopher J. Haraden’s article published on October 22. As of today the newspaper’s website hasn’t been updated, so we can’t link to the story yet.

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.

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Not wrecked yet

Graves Light’s Miss Cuddy II is bashed against Graves Ledge, being rescued by a line from Cap’n Jim and Master Diver Luigi aboard Boston Scuba’s Keep-ah.

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..

We lost Miss Cuddy I in 2018 due to powerful seas that dragged her mooring and dashed her hull on the ledge. So we turned her into a barge to finish reconstruction work on Graves, and sadly scrapped her last year.

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!

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Masterpiece

This original William R. Davis oil painting is now in the Graves Light library.

Just in time for Christmas, famed marine and landscape artist William R Davis delivered his magnificent painting of Graves Light Station as it looked in the early days.

Bill loves to paint in a traditional 19th century style, and it shows, with lots of little details set in an illuminated sunrise.

“He is a self-taught artist whose oil paintings typically capture the serene light of sunrise or sunset on the water,” the Guild of Boston Artists says.

“He employs many of the techniques traditionally used by American luminist painters to realize his personal vision, showing a marked preference for 19th century subjects.”

We motored out this weekend and gave it a place of honor in the 5th floor library. 

Thank you, Bill, for painting a Graves Light masterpiece!

Comfortably on the curved wall between the cabinet and a functioning section of a US Coast Guard navigational aid, William R. Davis’ painting of Graves Light is now part of the lighthouse.
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Regatta rounds Graves Ledge

Flip Flop Regatta sloops make their way around Graves Ledge to Broad Sound, with Boston in the background. (Photo: Larry Andersen)

Our pal Larry Andersen snapped this great shot of the Flip Flop Regatta rounding Graves Ledge recently.

Race officials asked us if they could station photographers at Graves to catch the action as the boats made their way up Broad Sound and on toward the Brewster Islands.

The regatta supports Courageous Sailing’s youth programs and “transforms children’s lives through sailing programs that inspire learning, personal growth, and leadership.” Nice shot, Larry!

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Graves Light under construction, 115 years ago today

November 27, 1903: How Graves light looked after its first 7 months of construction.

One hundred and fifteen years ago today, Colonel Stanton of the Army Corps of Engineers took advantage of calm seas to photograph The Graves, documenting work accomplished in the 1903 season.

Remarkably, in seven months, the workmen prepared the ledge, constructed temporary cofferdams and wharves, built a barracks and footbridge, and set half the tower’s stones into place.

The next year would see the rest of the tower, interior tiled walls and stairs completed.

Graves Light went operational in September, 1905.

Click here for more historic photos of Graves Light’s construction, along with copies of many of the original blueprints and diagrams.

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Fogbound work continues at Graves

A foggy week here at Graves, but work continues.

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.

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Two views from the same spot

Graves Light stands in the same spot but always seems to have a different view.

From the mainland four miles away, our friend Sean Foley shows how quickly the view of the lighthouse can change.

At sunrise on March 2, Sean caught calm seas reflecting a brilliant orange sky.

The next day, with Riley Gale surging, Sean caught a huge wave hitting Graves Light, sending up spray more than 100 feet. Graves Light is 118 feet high.

Sean and other photographers on shore are generous about sharing their photos with us. Thanks, friends.

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Clear the deck

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.

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Italy’s full-rigged ship Amerigo Vespucci passes by Graves

Italy’s magnificent ship-rigged Amerigo Vespucci  has visited Boston again!

She is seen passing by Graves Light as she entered the harbor on July 17.

After a trans-Atlantic trip to the Americas, the 330-foot ship made its first visit to Boston since 2000. The Boston Globe  covered the visit.

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.

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Tall Ships start SailBoston 2017 parade off Graves

Alexander von Humboldt II, a new square-rigger from Bremen, passes Graves Light. (We got this picture from Giles Parker’s Twitter account, but don’t know whom to credit.)

Fog failed to dispel the excitement of 50 tall ships visiting Boston Harbor for SailBoston 2017.

Square-riggers from around the world joined classic schooners like Canada’s Bluenose II, assembling near Graves Light to visit Boston.

The June 17-20 event was a breathtaking opportunity from our lighthouse observation point.

Even though the morning of the big sail parade began with a pea soup fog, we got the rare treat to watch the ships raise their sails as they entered Boston Harbor.

Below is a gallery of some of our pictures, and shots taken by others. We want to get these posted for the public to enjoy, and will work on captions and credits soon.

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