Four original cast iron pieces were lost years ago, but once Uncle Mike gives the mahogany replacements a fresh coat of paint, they blend right in with the rest!
Lots of enthusiasm here at Graves Light as we ready the new bathroom.
The lighthouse never had indoor plumbing as we know it, so a bathroom here is a first.
Master carpenter Nat is at it again.
He built the wooden bathroom in his Portland, Maine, shop, and installed it a few weeks ago.
The mahogany door, with porthole, is salvaged from an old boat.
Here, Nat is tiling the shower after he and Lynn laid out the marble pattern on the dock outside.
The plumbing and water treatment system are already in.
Soon we’ll have a fully functional sink, toilet, and shower.
Up from Karl’s Nantucket wood shop, we load the custom-built curved kitchen cabinets aboard Miss Cuddy.
In the gallery below, John and the gang install the “fair weather ladder” as Lynn surveys the cove (really), we all haul the new kitchen cabinets 90 feet up using a new “super bag,” and Randy applies spar varnish to the kitchen benches.
We finally got to spend stay in the lighthouse during a winter nor’easter.
The storm, Stella, was pretty tame, as it turned out, but with some good preparation and common sense we had a fine time.
Cap’n Pat of the Keep-ah joined us just before the storm, when the seas were still calm.
We were well-equipped. Plenty of bacon and beans. Lots of spirits to drink. Wood and coal for the potbelly stove. An electric generator plus solar panels and good communications to shore.
Plus lots of work to do.
For us, it was a normal winter trip. Basic maintenance, wood finishing work, attachment of bronze window hardware, and stuff. It was good to be in the lighthouse during a solid rain so that we could find where the windows leaked, and seal them up.
Earlier, Keeper Dave installed an anemometer on the chimney so we could get real-time wind speed.
We didn’t realize so many people were following us on Facebook, and didn’t think to take a lot of pictures or send messages. Here are some of our Facebook postings during the storm:
- March 14, 2017. 4:28 pm: It’s a dangerous place to go to but it’s a very safe place to be.
- March 14, 10:42 pm: The waning hours of the nor’easter Stella. Dead low tide opened a window to crawl across the ledge with safety lines and dry suits to witness the heavy surf. The wind and rain have calmed, but it’s still an amazing, wild and exciting place.
- March 15, 6:42 pm: Yesterday we didn’t do anything productive. Just watched the storm all day and then went exploring on the ledge at dusk (and low tide) in our dry suits. We brought a few lengths of line in case somebody slipped. No one did!
Today we slept late because the sleeping bags are so warm! Did a bunch of chores today – put the paneled ceiling back up after running some plumbing and electrical lines, put on some cabinet knobs, ran a cold water line up the six stories. (See the exciting pictures.) Now I’m installing an improved method of securing the storm shutters. The ribs are going on the stove in an hour!
- March 15, evening: Cap’n Pat of the Keep-ah took care of all the food. Tonight it’s ribs and baked beans on the wood-fueled potbelly stove. We’re mostly burning wood as we haven’t figured out the secret to getting the coal fire hot enough.
- For those of you kind enough to worry about us, we’ve got a propane heater for the kitchen. It’s well ventilated because the room was designed to allow outside air in thru snorkel vents.
- Pat’s streaming some great Pandora feeds – we found one of the old Nova Scotia sea shanties.
- What REAL lighthouse work is like: Cap’n Pat splices an old length to a genuine US Lighthouse Establishment (USLHE) pulley block, so we can hang the oil lamp in the kitchen. The lantern is repurposed from a USLHE dock lantern.
- Pat did a fine job, of course. The lantern fits right in beneath the First Order Fresnel Lens that forms our kitchen ceiling, right below the operating Coast Guard navigation lamp.
The master bedroom is almost ready.
The antique wooden floor of the 4th level is reconstructed, restored, and polished. The curved, white glazed interior bricks are perfectly clean. Faithful oak-and-bronze reproductions of the original 1905 casement windows have been in-place and functional for a long time. All the old paint and rust are gone, and everything shines like new
Master cabinetmaker Nat Towl from NMT Woodworking is just putting the finishing touches on the Keeper’s Suite. He’s been working on it for months after building our mahogany kitchen bench and doing other work.
The Keeper’s Suite is looking mighty good.
Nat used the same style quartersawn white oak as the original Graves furnishings with a little upgrading for modern lighthouse keeping. If we can squeeze one more work day we just might finish that room before year’s end.
The curved Murphy bed flips up to the wall for plenty of space during the day. Cabinets and shelves provide storage in the 13-foot diameter room. Take a look.
Two years ago, we vowed to make the old fog-signal plant on Level 2 a living quarters. Like the rest of the lighthouse, Level 2 was in pretty rough shape.
Thanks to some great friends and wonderful contractors, we’ve almost finished the job. It involved a whole lot of paint-scraping, new priming and painting, safe removal of hazardous material, restoration of the old oak flooring, replacement of the block-glass windows with faithful reproductions of the original oak casement windows, and even construction of a curved oak desk. We now have electricity, too!
Instead of peeling paint, wrecked floor and ceiling, and the horrible block-glass windows that choked out the fresh sea air, the old fog-signal plant is now a master bedroom.
Now Graves has what every lighthouse needs: A space-saving Murphy bed that folds up to the wall.
Nat Towl of NMT Woodworking custom-built one of quartersawn oak over the summer.
The bed arrived at about the same time electricity lit up the interior of Graves for the first time in 40 years.
Made to fit the curvature of the wall, the bed comes complete with a red-and-black cover storm warning flag.
Nat’s seen here with his pal Mike, installing the bed, which is perfectly balanced and, when closed, features an antique nautical chart of Massachusetts Bay.
Nat built Graves Light’s curved kitchen bench last spring.
We had quite an adventure installing the custom-built curved mahogany kitchen benches in the Watch Room. The pictures tell the story.
Meanwhile, Nat and the lads at NMT Woodworking in South Portland, Maine, have been busy.
Living space at Graves Light is at a premium – none mores than the kitchen on Level 6. That’s the old Watch Room, a circular room of bronze and steel that sits on top of the granite tower and just below the glass Lamp Room.
The NMT crew created this custom mahogany bench seat to fit against the curved wall.
They built it for serious chowder eating. The marine-grade mahogany is able to withstand extreme temperatures and salt air.
You can see how the curvature matches that of the bronze kitchen stove that our man Wyatt designed over the winter.
Nat will be installing the bench system this week, weather permitting, as always. So stay tuned.
Winter is a great time for on-shore basement projects for the lighthouse.
We converted an old oak desk into a keeper’s desk. First, we crafted a new top to fit the curved inner walls of the tower. We secured it to the two base drawer units with brass fasteners (no rusty steel in the lighthouse environment) and stained it to match.
The desk is installed on the 4th level, which will be the master bedroom. Next, we’ll start building a space-saving Murphy bed, whose mattress can be stored vertically when not in use, and pulled down flat for the evening.