We had the good fortune to bring in the talents of master rigger José Hernandez Juviel and his wife Becky to weave and knot a traditional rope railing for the oil house.
Few are skilled in his maritime trade, and it was a privilege for him to design and build it out of sturdy hemp, with a pine tar finish. So many able hands have touched Graves Light to make it shine. A hearty “Three Bells” to José and Becky!
Dramatic sea rescue! Proof that no matter how well you know Graves Ledge, the area is always treacherous.
Saturday’s calm seas beckoned us to the lighthouse for a maintenance check. Within an hour, a bit of wind sprang up and pulled Miss Cuddy II off her mooring to be thrown mercilessly onto the ledge, roiling in the surf and battering her hull.
These former Coast Guard Defender-class boats are built to take a wicked beating. Their work on Graves Light put them through the toughest tests..
So on Saturday, March 28, 2018, the seas broke Miss Cuddy II from her mooring and slammed her viciously into the basalt ledge.
But just as quickly as bad luck strikes, good luck came our way. The mighty men of Boston Scuba, passing by after work on their trusty dive boat Keep-ah, noticed our plight. Using their expert seamanship they threw us a line and towed us off the rocks to the safety of deeper water.
The culprit: The new mooring had been chewed down to a thread below water, a grim reminder of the relentless power of the North Atlantic.
We raise a glass to our rescuers Cap’t Jim and Master Diver Luigi! Thank you for saving Miss Cuddy II!
Not everything at Graves Light is happy and fun. Our trusty Miss Cuddy I went to the scrap yard. The former Coast Guard Defender-class boat ferried us all back and forth from the lighthouse until bad seas dragged her on her moorings to a terrible beating on Graves Ledge.
We removed Miss Cuddy‘s pilot house and turned her into a service barge. She spent all of 2019 doing the drudge work for the Oil House and footbridge.
This week we took her to a scrap yard in Everett. We gave the pilot house to a local tugboat operator and one of the engines to our roofer, and salvaged a bunch of small parts for her replacement, Miss Cuddy II. We had to strip the two big orange flotation collars off her hull.
At the scrap yard, she weighed in at 5,200 pounds of aluminum hull and other metal parts, including the old Coast Guard gun mounts.
It was a sad sight indeed to see her crunched up and tossed onto the scrap heap like an old toy. Afterward we saw Toy Story 4.
Miss Cuddy I sure did give us years of great service. Using her hull as a barge worked out great for ferrying the stone, copper, and steel parts for the reconstructed Oil House and footbridge.
“Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crost the bar.”
“The Lighthouse” – a wonderfully crafted little movie – is in theaters now.
Starring Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson, it’s the story of two keepers slowly going mad in an offshore Maine lighthouse in the 1890s. That time roughly coincides with the initial planning of the construction of Graves Light.
Anyway, the film’s art department required authentic period props. Director Robert Eggers, a New England native, is a stickler for absolute historical detail.
So the production company contacted us about two years ago. We answered the call and are proud to have contributed five crates of authentic United States Lighthouse Service as artifacts to use as props in the movie.
It’s a seriously awesome film, but definitely not for kids or the faint of heart. “The Lighthouse” is in the horror/suspense genre. It’s unconventional. And brilliant.
The pictures below show the genuine US Lighthouse Service artifacts that we loaned the producers either to use in the actual scenes, or to use in making copies that would get damaged or destroyed in the filming.
Willem Defoe tosses one of them, an oil can, at Robert Pattinson in the tight scene after Pattinson struggled up the spiral staircase with a large oil can. In another scene, Pattinson drinks out of the brass oil pitcher.
We’re very excited to share the news that our two-year restoration and reconstruction of the historical Oil House and footbridge are now complete.
The original Graves footbridge, a steel structure that spanned the channel in Graves Ledge to link the lighthouse to the granite Oil House more than 100 feet away, was partially destroyed in the Great Blizzard of ’78 and demolished by the “No Name” storm of 1991.
The original wooden roof of the Oil House became unsalvageable after years of heavy storms and neglect.
We get a lot of questions about how much of a pounding this or that modification or reconstruction will take from the sea.
A lot of engineers and others helped us think things through before we drew up the plans and went to work.
This diagram shows the load calculations on the Oil House, with its new second story.
We built a new timberframe roof to replace the old, and added stainless steel reinforcements which the original roof didn’t have.
The precast marine concrete walls of the second floor are heavily reinforced and interlock with one another. They are bolted six feet into the ledge below.
Nearby pilings for the footbridge are made from 6-inch reinforced stainless steel pipe, welded to the original US Army Corps of Engineers steel pilings that were drilled six feet into the ledge. The original ones worked perfectly for decades until a big storm snapped them off like twigs.
The windows will be protected from hurricanes by anti-ballistic shutters.
That’s the plan, of course. The sea will decide for herself what works.
This is the big year for the Oil House restoration. We needed a decorative element to transition from the old stone blocks to the modern 2nd story.
Swenson Granite Works, a family business since 1883, cut a beautiful belt course of solid stone around the top of the original first story, to form a granite base of the new second level.
The fellows from Atlantic Restoration teamed up with King Pine Restorations to form a super-team to tackle the impossible.
Sixteen stones, each weighing 700 pounds, were hauled out in the Miss Cuddy I. She’s former Coast Guard Defender vessel that had been the shuttle to Graves Light until rough waters last year dragged her mooring and wrecked her on the ledge. Her USCG-designed hull came out intact, so we pulled off the cabin and turned her into a barge.
Graves Light is a historic landmark. At the outermost entrance to Boston Harbor and the tallest lighthouse in the Boston area, Graves Light is privately owned but continues to serve as a navigation aid run by the US Coast Guard.
The new owners welcome the adventurous public to enjoy the sights of Graves Light, but warn that there are no electrical, water, sanitary, first aid, or other facilities of any kind available to the public at the lighthouse or on Graves Ledge.
Graves Ledge is dangerous. Submerged rocks present a navigation hazard. We insist that visitors enjoy the ledge and lighthouse from the safety of their boat or kayak.
Meanwhile, follow us through this website, Facebook, and on Twitter @GravesLight.