Our lighthouse journey took a bit of a beating as heavy seas pounded our trusty Miss Cuddy II, parted her newly installed Hazelett Marine mooring at Graves Light and cast her ten miles to smash her on Strawberry Ledge at Situate.
Minot’s Ledge Light is seen in the distance as the guys from Sea Tow Boston and South Shore recover Miss Cuddy II, upright her, and float her away.
The North Atlantic’s merciless thrashing on the granite reminds us of the dangers of the sea. Yet Miss Cuddy II’s hull was left intact – testimony to the shipwrights at Safe Boat who built her for the US Coast Guard.
Fortunately the crew was safe at Graves Light the whole time. Many thanks (again) to Capt. Jim of Boston Scuba who came out to get us two days later when the seas were calm enough. The treacherous rocks and waters of Graves Ledge are no stranger to Capt. Jim, who rescued Miss Cuddy II a year ago.
As for Miss Cuddy II – she was floated back to shore and got a ride on a trailer. Meanwhile, we brought a group to dive around Strawberry Ledge and pick up the wreckage. Many thanks to state and local authorities for their help.
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!
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.
The guys from CCI Construction have finished reinforcing the Oil House and are waterproofing the tower, while up in Maine, cabinet makers Nat and Don are building some of the last of the magnificent interior furniture and fixtures.
Just before midnight during the Riley Gale, one of our cameras recorded the sea laying claim to our tool shed.
The gale pummeled Graves Light as the 27 foot seas smashed into the ledge, sending spray 117 feet to the very top.
This little clip shows the amazing power of nature. Like a great hand, a wave reaches up 20 feet to the dock, plucks the shed that was bolted to the timbers below, and drags it into the surf. See the video here on our Facebook page.
All the gear inside went to Davy Jones. Lighthouse insurance? What’s that?
It’s no great loss, when you think about it. Many people along the coast lost their cars and homes, and at least seven lost their lives.
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.