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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Bathroom takes shape

Nat puts up the tile in the first-ever Graves Light bathroom.

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.

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After 112 years, a new bathroom is on the way

Where’s the bathroom?

That’s a common question at Graves Light.

Up until this year, we’ve been using a nifty composting toilet in the shed.

But all that changes as we install a fully functional bathroom with shower, toilet and sink on the third floor of the tower.

The system will give Graves full running water for the first time in 112 years.

The guys have been busy ferrying the heavy pipes and fixtures out and installing them.

Galvin from NorEast Marine is building the manifold connection for a state-of-the-art water treatment system.

We just scored a beautiful antique sink from periodbath.com.

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Last part of Nantucket-built kitchen cabinet is installed

Back-to-back great weather days let us get stuff done!

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.

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How we spent St. Patrick’s Day Eve

Pat attached the spliced line to an antique US Lighthouse Service block.

Cap’n Pat splices line to hang a lamp.

Staying at Graves during the nor’easter meant that the guys would spend the eve of St. Patrick’s Day eve having some quiet fun when the storm hit.

We took an antique U.S. Light House Establishment (USLHE) dock lantern, and repurposed it to become a hanging lamp in the kitchen.

The kitchen is on the watch deck just below the operational U.S. Coast Guard navigational beacon.

Cap’n Pat spliced an old length of line through an old USLHE pulley block.

Then we hung the lantern from the apex of the arch formed by the recovered First Order Fresnel Lens, just beneath the navigational beacon.

Then we hung the lantern beneath the actual navigation lamp.

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Inside Graves Light during a nor’easter

Safest place in the harbor, 100 feet up.

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.

Graves at night during Winter Storm Stella.

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!
  • Cap’n Pat catches up on his history of New England shipwrecks as the bacon and beans bubble on the potbelly stove.

    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.
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On the lighthouse roof

Keeper Dave on the roof of Graves Light, installing an anemometer on the new chimney to catch wind speeds.

Thwarted by ill weather over the weekend, the dauntless crew of Lynn, Randy, John and Dave today installed the remaining 12 feet of stovepipe and added an anemometer to measure wind speed.

The top of the bronze chimney is salvaged from an old yacht. The rest of it, we built.

A wonderful view of the frosty harbor from the very top!

 

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Prepping for improved access to Graves Light

Carlos helps prepare for an improved access spot to treacherous Graves Ledge.

Inputting coordinates for a 3-D image of the ledge.

A stunning February morning finds CLE Engineers surveying Graves Ledge in preparation for a new landing area and improved access to the treacherous island.

Mike recorded over 300 points so Carlos can generate a 3D topographic map.

The map will be the basis for designing and permitting compliant structures which will make life a lot easier out here.

Critical aspects: Anything we build must be in harmony with the natural and historic aesthetic of the property.

It also must be strongly built to withstand the harshest North Atlantic weather.

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Philanthropist Bobby Sager joins the Graves Light team

A Boston businessman, philanthropist, and lighthouse aficionado has joined us to bring Graves Light to an even higher level of restoration and revival.

Boston Globe reporter Emily Sweeney broke the news on December 28 that Bobby Sager is now part of the Graves Light team.

Bringing Graves back to its original magnificence, while adapting it for modern use, had gotten very expensive, and we were wondering what to do since buying it in 2013. We had been up against a determined bidder.

“An interesting person came into view — doubly interesting because he turned out to be the individual we were bidding against the whole time,” Graves Light keeper Dave Waller told the Globe.

“Sager is a philanthropist who made his fortune by turning a small Boston-based jewelry firm into a lucrative global financial services business,” according to the Globe. Here’s an excerpt from Sweeney’s article:

The Wallers officially partnered with Sager in June 2016. Sager offered to provide financial resources to speed up the restoration work at Graves Light, and they agreed to share the lighthouse.

“We were bidding against each other and ended up being roommates,” said Sager.

Sager is impressed with Waller’s knowledge of the inner workings of the lighthouse and what it needs.

“Dave Waller is a genius” at “being able to restore these,” Sager said. “He’s a man on a mission.”

Sager and his son went out to Graves around Labor Day, and a storm rolled in during their visit, leaving them stranded. They couldn’t leave until the storm had passed.

Sager said they looked at each other and thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” But it turned out to be a bonding experience for father and son. The trip ended up being longer than they had planned, but they felt safe inside the lighthouse and it was a memorable adventure.

. . . [Sager] believes lighthouses should be preserved and that they can do more than warn ships away from rocky shores. Sager says they’re “small spaces where big conversations can happen.”

“I think these lighthouses are really a special opportunity,” he added. To be somewhere where you’re completely surrounded by water is unique, and “It’s a good place for people to listen . . . and to have powerful conversations.”


Click here for the full story
. Contact Emily Sweeney at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter, as we do, @emilysweeney.

 

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Super Moon photo amazes with its majesty

gl-supermoon-riseThe amazing photos of the Super Moon over Graves Light show how small humanity’s grandest structures are in relation to the wonders of nature.

“Thank you” to the many photographers who share their art with GravesLightStation.com, including Sean McGrath and Babak Tafreshi here.

 

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