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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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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Happy National Lighthouse Day

Celebrating lighthouse cheer at Graves on National Lighthouse Day.

Celebrating lighthouse cheer at Graves on National Lighthouse Day.

Happy National Lighthouse Day!

What a beautiful day to spend with friends new and old as we celebrate by hosting an open house out at Graves Light.

The striped bass and bluefish were biting too, so it turned into quite a party out here.

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Engineer who removed original Fresnel lens returns to Graves

Engineer Ron Fiore explains to Dave how he devised the system to remove the original Fresnel Lens from Graves.

On the deck of Graves Light for the first time since 1975, engineer Ron Fiore explains to Dave how he devised the system to remove the original Fresnel Lens from Graves.

Well, the best part of this whole lighthouse experience continues to be all the great people we meet.

Today we met Ron Fiore, the structural engineer who devised the method of removing the gigantic First Order Fresnel lens back in 1975.

That lens blasted out a 3.2 million candlepower beam for 70 years straight. The lamp required a full-time crew to operate and maintain, so the Coast Guard had it taken out and replaced with an automated electric beacon.

Ron told us all the details about how he built a custom crane to gently lower the priceless lens – it weighed 2 tons and measured 12 feet tall and 9 feet across – down one story into the watch room.

Then he and the crew removed part of a wall to slide the lens past the sloping tower and drop it 60 feet to the dock, where a Coast Guard boat plucked it onto the deck. 

Legendary New England maritime history author Edward Rowe Snow made an appearance, instructing the crew to wave (as he was filming the feat) but the workers were too busy – and scared – to respond.

The next year Ron and his wife visited the lens again, this time at the Smithsonian!

The Fresnel lens was made in France by Barbier, Benard & Turenne in 1904, and was installed in 1905. After the 1975 removal, the Coast Guard installed an automated electric beacon, powered from land by an underwater cable. That cable broke, so in 2001 the Coast Guard installed the present solar-powered lamp, the Hydrosphere Vega VRB-25, made in the U.K.

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Art Milmore, completing Edward Rowe Snow’s unfinished work, visits Graves

Author and speaker Art Milmore (center) on Graves Ledge at low tide with Lynn and Dave.

Author and speaker Art Milmore (center) on Graves Ledge at low tide with Lynn and Dave.

Arthur Milmore, the respected author and speaker, toured Graves Light Station with us last weekend.

He was a good friend of New England maritime historian Edward Rowe Snow, and is completing Snow’s unfinished book about the wreck of the Portland, the side paddle wheel steamship lost in 1898 with all 190 people aboard.

In the greatest of Snow traditions, Art regaled us with seafaring tales and even installed a few of those bronze skylights in the lantern room.


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Royal Spanish Navy tall ship passes Graves Light

Royal Spanish Navy barquentine Juan Sebastian Elcano passes Graves Light on June 15, 2015.

Royal Spanish Navy barquentine Juan Sebastian de Elcano passes Graves Light on June 15, 2015.

The third-largest tall ship in the world treated us to an early-morning visit, of sorts, here at Graves Light.

Juan Sebastian de Elcano, the four-masted brig-schooner of the Royal Spanish Navy, has been seen off the New England coast recently. Today, the majestic training ship, with its crew of 197, passed Boston Harbor. The steel-hulled masterpiece is 370 feet long. (Here are some close-up shots.)

We remember first seeing this beautiful vessel as kids with our dad during OpSail ’76, when the Elcano visited Boston to celebrate our nation’s bicentennial. That day was also the first time we set eyes on Graves Light, from our dad’s Tanzer-22 sloop.

Juan Sebastian de Elcano – named after the great Spanish explorer who captained Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the earth – has logged more nautical miles than any other sailing vessel in history. Since its keel was laid in 1927, the Elcano has sailed 2 million nautical miles.

We call it a brig-schooner because that’s what the Royal Spanish Navy calls it on its English website. However, on the official Spanish-language version, the vessel is called a “barque,” which would also make it a “barque” or “bark” in English. Others call it a brig, because of the square rig of its foremast, or a barquentine.

We don’t pretend to be experts on the rigging of sailing vessels. We’re just excited that the great Spanish sailing ship passed by today.

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