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!
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.
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.
We just launched a YouTube channel to share our videos.
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.
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.
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.
Harbor 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.