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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Keeper’s suite almost finished

Nat Town puts finishing touches on the Keeper's Suite.

Nat Towl puts finishing touches on the Keeper’s Suite.

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.

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Reflection of the Super Moon

Reflection of the Super Moon over Graves.

Reflection of the Super Moon over Graves.

A rare calm day on the water so we went out in force to do some of those end-of-the-season chores before Old Man Winter tightens his grip.

On the ride home, we were treated to this beautiful moonlit view of Graves just as the automatic beacon lit up for the night. The full SuperMoon is tomorrow, but we did get a good look (but unfortunately not a photo) as it broke the horizon. It was big and bright!

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All toasty with our potbelly stove, 4 miles out to sea

Dave sweeps up by the first fire in Graves Light's new potbelly stove.

Dave sweeps up by the first fire in Graves Light’s new potbelly stove.

Mary lights the potbelly stove for the first time.

Mary lights the potbelly stove for the first time.

November 2016 began with a warm wood fire from our new potbelly stove.

This is the first time Graves Light has been heated in about 40 years.

It’s pretty nice to sit up here as the weather cools down and we don’t have to freeze On Station.

Thanks to the creative people at Nelson Metal Fabrication in South Portland, Maine, and our trusty volunteers, we now have a fully functional potbelly stove to keep us warm.

We found an antique smokestack salvaged from an old yacht.

The folks at Nelson turned the smokestack into a 12 foot-tall chimney, hauled it down from Maine, and installed it at Graves Light.

Here’s how they did it

They connected the stove on the third deck with the original chimney shaft in the wall, and then ran the newly fabricated section of pipe and yacht smokestack through the original 1905 chimney stack channel, out the granite watch deck, and up and out the lamp deck.

The gallery below tells the story in pictures: from Nelsons’ shop in Maine, to the fitting together of the new chimney with the old smokestack, to Jim and John installing the stack in the old chimney assembly at the lighthouse.

Then a photo shows how the old yacht smokestack sits in place, out of the lamp deck, like the 1905 original.

And finally  –  the glorious potbelly stove all lit up, filling the lighthouse with a welcoming warm glow from its iron hearth.  Plus cleanup time.

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Making progress inside

gl-before-after-level-2Time to catch our breath and take a step back from when we started.

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.

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Electricity inside for first time in 40 years

gl-bunks-lit

The twin double-decker mahogany bunk beds have their own lighting now. We used brass marine lamps salvaged from an old ship.

For the first time in 40 years, the Graves Light living quarters have electricity again.

The staircases on all levels of Graves Light now shine with the new electrical system.

The staircases on all levels of Graves Light now shine with the new electrical system.

It was big day “on station” as Jeff and Jacob from Nor’East Marine powered up the lights.

Not only do we have LED lighting on every floor and stairwell, but we’ll have regular house current for tools and toasters.

For nerds only: They’ve installed a dozen 2-volt marine batteries and we’re running all systems on 24 volts DC. Right now, the batteries are topped up with a generator.

The plan – if we can make it work – is to do some solar and wind next season.

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Murphy bed goes up (and down)

gl-murphy-bed-1Now 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.

 

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Moonrise

GL moonrise 01 2016.08.18
From Winthrop, Boston Herald photographer Mark Garfinkel captured this incredible moonrise over Graves.

A few days earlier, on the night of August 12-13, Mark caught the specactular lightning storm around the lighthouse.

We really enjoy the pictures that friends, fans, and passers-by send along to us from Winthrop, Hull, Nahant, by boat, or wherever. They help chronicle the history of Graves Light and Boston Harbor.

Take a look at Mark’s work on his blog, PictureBoston.com, and on Twitter @PictureBoston.

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