Refuelling a Lighthouse

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photo credit Ron Amundsen

British Columbia (BC) lighthouses mostly have diesel generators unless they are close enough to a large town or city to allow a power cable to run to them.

So how does one refuel a lighthouse as most of them are sitting fairly high above the water line and very distant from a local gas station?

Well, thanks to the lighthouse keepers at Scarlett Point lighthouse and Ivory Island lighthouse for giving me permission to use their photos, I can now show you. 

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Scarlett Point lighthouse – Google Maps

Ivan Dubinsky at Scarlett Point lighthouse, north of Port Hardy, BC has been photographing anything that moves and does not move at his lighthouse with his new camera and posting them on Facebook. He now has quite a few followers admiring his photos.

OK, back to the refuelling. There are many ways that I have seen it done. From most to least expensive we have helicopter slinging in fuel drums or bladders, hovercraft carrying fuel in it’s tanks, and Coast Guard ships pumping it into a fuel barge and moving it to shore.

           CG253_Ivan_DubinskyRefuelling Entrance_Ivan_DubinskyCCGS Bartlett_Ivan_Dubinsky Continue reading

A Lighthouse in Iceland

1488255_759521697393799_359641845_nThe photo above appeared on Facebook recently. It is a photo of the Þrídrangar lighthouse (pronounciation unknown) in Iceland. According to Timothy Harrison, lighthouse historian and Editor in Chief of Lighthouse Digest magazine, the photo was first posted on I heart Reykjavík on Facebook. There they say:

How would you like to be a lighthouse guard in this lighthouse? Þrídrangar are located 10km west of the Westman Islands and the lighthouse was built in 1939 (probably the most challenging lighthouse ever built in Iceland). I’m not sure I would visit even if I was offered it. Image via www.sigling.is

 The Google Map below shows the location. Zoom in on it.  Continue reading

Oh No! Not Another Accident!

 This story could be titled Oh no, not another accident or to be more truthful How to give a helicopter a bath!

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If you keep up with aviation news you may have heard about a Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) helicopter that crashed in the Arctic. Continue reading

What a Nice Christmas Present

What a nice surprise! Today on Facebook the lighthouse keeper, Colin Toner, who is residing at my old workplace at McInnes Island posted a fantastic video of the lighthouse. Please watch in full screen to get the full effect.

Watch as the MBB105 helicopter approaches the island in the rain. You can see the rain striking the windscreen on the front of the helicopter.

Later get a tour of the light and a walk around the island in the stormy weather. Take note of the heavy seas. That is life in winter on the west coast of Canada.

Thanks Colin for the memories, and special thanks goes to Tineke Veenhoven for creating the film!

For a larger and higher quality version please go to Youtube. I had trouble getting it to embed here.

Quitting Smoking – Not on a Lighthouse!

I was a smoker when I arrived on my first lighthouse at Pulteney Point in December 1969. I was twenty-two (22) years old, married, with no children when I arrived.

My wife, Karen, and I had never had to order supplies for a month. Our first order was loaded with chocolate bars and stuff we figured we would not be able to do without. Tobacco, as I rolled my own, was not a problem – two cans of Player’s tobacco should do for a month. 

When you live in the city with stores right at hand, you never consider how much you use in a month. It is used until it runs out and you buy more. Well, the tobacco supply was greatly underestimated. I ran out.

Next day I asked the senior lightkeeper, Walt Tansky, if I could borrow the station boat and run into the town of Sointula about 8 kms away. Walt said he had a better idea and invited me into his house. He headed for the basement and came back with a can of Player’s tobacco. IT was c-o-l-d!

Walt explained that he had quit smoking years ago and that a personal motive to quit was to keep a can of tobacco on hand in the freezer. It became a cushion against his addiction.

“But”, I said, “you quit years ago. This tobacco is that old?”

“No”, he siad, “It has been replaced many times.”

“Replaced?”

“Yes”, everytime a keeper runs out, he may borrow this can and replace it at the first available chance. It has been replaced many times – by fishermen, pilots, keepers, and campers.” Continue reading

A Trip by Helicopter up the West Coast to Carmanah Point 2006

 A trip by helicopter up the west coast of Vancouver island to Carmanah Point 
October 25, 2006
 

Bell 212 at Carmanah Point - photo Mike Shepherd

To see what part of the west coast of Vancouver island is like from the air, check out Mike Shepherd’s article Coast Guard Bell 212 Helicopter Trip

There are some really nice shots of the Pacific Ocean and familiar lighthouses.

– Mike Shepherd is a Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) bofficer at Tofino MCTS, which is located on Amphitrite Point, near Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada.

Moving Day 1970s

Crates awaiting lowering to the ship - photo Glenn Borgens

One of the problems with moving to another lighthouse was that everything had to be crated and or well-packed to withstand the dangers of the transportation and handling by ship and/or helicopter. It also had to survive unexpected falls and/or water damage, both fresh and salt.

When my wife Karen and I first moved on the lighthouses we had no material for crating so we had to get professionals from a moving company to do the work for us. They did a very good job but were very expensive.

When we got the bill we did not have the money to pay for it, so we told the man we would leave half the furnishings there in the warehouse and get them shipped out next month when we got paid. He was having nothing of that and eventually dropped the price to something we could afford. Continue reading

Illness at Boat Bluff Lighthouse 1970s

The following memory was passed on to me by Margit Losel. It happened during their time at Boat Bluff in the years 1977 – 1980. They were lucky! They were able to get off and on the lighthouse. Some stations were too isolated for this method to work. – retlkpr

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Boat Bluff c.1970s - photo Ray McKenzie

We were living on Boat Bluff Light and my oldest son Simon was an infant. He developed a very bad case of Croup. One stormy night he all but stopped breathing and we tried frantically to get some help.

We finally managed to get a radio patch through Bull Harbour Coast Guard Radio with a doctor in Bella Bella. The radio reception was so poor that the connection with the doctor broke up all the time, but we did understand that Simon needed medical attention as soon as possible.

Groceries and Mail on a Lighthouse

Groceries being loaded at Coast Guard Base - photo John Coldwell

Some of you may wonder why the number of stories about re-supplying the lighthouses exceeds the others on this site by a large margin (lots more coming!). Next to the family and job, the arrival of the mail and groceries was the most important event in the life of the lightkeeping family. 

Imagine no telephone, no television, no two-way radio, possibly no AM radio, and no contact with the outside world except what you saw going by your window. The post was and still is the most important contact to the real world.  Continue reading

Day of Departure – Going on Leave c.1970s

MBB-105 - photo J. Coldwell

In the days before portable radios and instant communications, we were always apprehensive about the day we headed out for holidays. 

First there was the weather which as everone knows on the West Coast of Canada is always unpredictable even with modern weather forecasting. We observed the weather but rarely got any weather forecasts. 

Next came the Coast Guard. Our long-awaited flight could be diverted for search and rescue, maintenance, or any of a hundred other reasons.  Continue reading