Baby harbor seal gets a lesson – and reward

It must be spring out at Graves ’cause we spotted a baby seal on the rocks.

The little critter was all alone and struggling to move around, but when the tide came in after a few minutes, baby “Rocky” slipped into the water and swam away. We hoped Rocky was off to find Mama.

Turns out that’s exactly what happened. Mama set the good example and guided her little pup back to the rock. Watch the video to see the pup’s well-earned treat at the end!

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Experiencing a snowstorm at Graves Light

Randy and Pat are on the dock, enjoying a perfectly horizontal snowstorm as Winter Storm Lexi hits Boston.

Randy and Pat are on the dock, enjoying a perfectly horizontal snowstorm as Winter Storm Lexi hits Boston.

We didn’t expect to be caught in a real nor’easter as we watched winter storm Lexi.

So we went out to Graves on Thursday to make a maintenance check and enjoy a mild winter’s overnight as the storm approached.

Both the lighthouse and our all-weather Defender-class former Coast Guard boat would be safe havens as the weather came down on us.

Staying inside the granite lighthouse is as safe as staying at home. Graves was staffed 24/7 with no fatalities for 70 years, and we were well stocked for any eventuality.

We wore survival suits and each had pocket VHF radios in addition to our cell phones, and stayed in touch with another captain on shore.

Conditions can catch the unprepared by surprise. We watched NOAA’s Boston B buoy for real-time sea conditions, and checked hourly with NOAA marine forecast and satellite mapping. Lexi moved unusually fast and hit harder than forecast, but it didn’t matter because we were high and dry in our stone fortress, nearly 100 feet above the waves.

One look at the heavy sea Friday morning was all it took to tell us to stay put in the lighthouse. Lexi had arrived. She wasn’t a nor’easter, but as the video shows, she gave us some rough weather. It’s thrilling to be surrounded by howling winds, angry seas, and horizontal snow.

By late Friday afternoon, the seas and wind had diminished enough to let us make a break for home in our boat, although the seven-foot seas gave us a good pounding.

In the picture above, Randy and Pat (a veteran boat captain) are on the dock enjoying a perfectly horizontal snowstorm. As the ice and snow on the lighthouse and ledges shows, the wind was coming from the northwest.

A word of caution to all boaters: Stay well clear of Graves Ledge during rough weather. The unpredictable swells and submerged rocks are extremely dangerous. And although it sounds un-neighborly, anyone on Graves Ledge without explicit permission is trespassing. The exposed ledge is slippery in any weather, with or without ice.

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Sea spray hits 50-foot mark as autumn sets in

50-foot markOur pal Bill from Hull snapped this shot today from his telescope showing sea spray at the 50 foot mark on the tower.

The sea conditions at the outer harbor today were – and still are! – nasty, with 10 foot seas and high winds.

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A baby seal plays under the boat

Gl seal 2015.06.06
A baby seal plays under the boat that’s tied to the Graves Light pier.

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Family of seal pups calls Graves Ledge home

Seal pups have staked out Graves Ledge as their home.

Seal pups have staked out Graves Ledge as their home.

A new generation of seal pups is calling Graves Ledge their home.

Here are some pictures.

Meet The Twins, and a little guy we named Spotty.

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Our new YouTube channel is launched


We just launched a YouTube channel to share our videos.

Click here for the link to the Graves Light Station YouTube Channel.

The first feature is the above magnificent 34-second time-lapse montage. Using a remote camera, we snapped a photo every five minutes for four days, resulting in this video.

Take a look at how the tide rises and falls, the sun and moon rise over the horizon, the workers move up and down the lighthouse and around the dock and ledge, and the light itself casts its beacon over the dark sky.

We also link to YouTube videos that other people shot, where Graves Light is seen or referenced, and arranged them on playlists for “one-stop shopping” for Graves Light videos. We’ll continue to expand these lists.

RC camera improvHow we made the stop-action video

The Graves Light keepers describe how the crew created the remote camera system: “We used a Canon 5D camera with a 24mm lens. My nephew Patrick and I built a waterproof housing out of a 50 caliber ammo box and powered it with two solar panels and a car battery.

“The real trick was the triggering device: Patrick cracked an old cell phone which he can fully control from his iPhone.

“The cracked phone triggered he camera, the camera sent the images to the cracked phone, which sent them on to Patrick’s phone, then automatically deleted them so the phone and camera didn’t fill up.”  

See the photo of the initial improvisation with the ammunition box, which we posted on Facebook in February.

Again, here’s the link to our YouTube channel.

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SS City of Salisbury wreck: A fun dive off Graves Light

A section of the hull of the SS City of Salisbury, at the bottom of Boston Harbor, May 23, 2014.

A section of the hull of the SS City of Salisbury, at the bottom of Boston Harbor, May 23, 2014.

Today we went for an adventurous dive off Graves Ledge to seek the wreck of the SS City of Salisbury, which struck an uncharted rock and sank 76 years ago this month.

Most of the wreck of the famed “Zoo Ship” was raised and sold for scrap metal, dynamited as a navigation hazard, or dragged across the bottom of Boston Harbor in the decades since the sinking.

The bow is said to be nearly intact, and a great dive spot, but we didn’t find it today. We did find the wreckage field, with sections of the hull of the 419-foot British freighter strewn about the bottom and alive with marine life.

It was a beautiful dive on a fine spring day, with great visibility. Take a look.

SS City of Salisbury wreckage at bottom of Boston Harbor, May 23, 2014.

SS City of Salisbury wreckage at bottom of Boston Harbor, May 23, 2014.

The SS City of Salisbury is broken in two on an uncharted part of Graves Ledge. Graves Light is seen in the upper left background.

1938: The SS City of Salisbury is broken in two on an uncharted part of Graves Ledge. Graves Light is seen in the upper left background.

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Lots of harbor seal sightings this spring

Seal at Graves croppedHarbor seals are happily out this spring at Graves Ledge, with sightings being reported by our diver friends at Boston Scuba.

We got some pictures of our own this weekend, including this one at low tide of a playful baby seal, the newest seen this year at Graves Ledge.

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50-foot wall of spray breaks over The Graves

Graves storm March 2014 Richard GreenOur friend Richard Green shot this remarkable photograph of a 50-foot wall of spray crashing over The Graves.

The picture, taken with a powerful telephoto lens on March 26, 2014, shows the wall of whitewater extending up half the height of the 113-foot tall lighthouse.

Breakers crash over the granite oil house located 90 feet to the left of the lighthouse.

Graves Ledge and the lighthouse are 4 miles from the mainland, but the telephoto lens draws in the neighboring town as if it was only a few feet away.

The dramatic photo shows why it was so necessary to build the lighthouse back in 1903, to guide mariners past the dangerous stone ledge. Numerous shipwrecks, resulting in loss of life, have been recorded around The Graves.

By the way, Graves Ledge, as The Graves is also called, gets its name from British Rear Admiral Thomas Graves (1605-1653), an early settler of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Contrary to popular myth, The Graves was not named as the graveyard of doomed ships and sailors.

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Secret cave discovered at Graves Light

Secret CaveWhile surveying the masonry today at Graves Light, Mike Sylvester of CCI contracting made an exciting discovery: A secret cave.  You’re looking at the first-ever picture from inside.

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