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. 

Scarlet

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

LEGO Does It Again!

As most of you know I love lighthouses and I have a special attraction for LEGO lighthouses (link1) (link2).

10241_prodWell, as you can see by the photo at the left, this is not a lighthouse, but it is a marine vessel which could very well sail past a lighthouse, and it is the largest ship in the world (right now!) – the record-breaking Maersk ‘Triple-E.’

Built from over 1,500 bricks, the model recreates the real vessel in amazing detail.

Features include rotating gold-colored propeller blades, brick-built twin 8-cylinder engines, viewing window into the engine compartment, adjustable rudders, detachable lifeboats, removable containers, rotating crane arms and a special ‘good luck’ coin.

It includes rare medium azur, dark red, sand blue and sand green colored elements.

Play with the model on carpeted surfaces or mount the model on the display stand

Building instructions also include interesting facts about the real ship.

The model includes 1,516 bricks

The ship (mounted on stand) measures over 8” (21cm) high, 25” (65cm) long and 3” (9cm) wide – more Continue reading

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

Supplies for Cape Scott Lighthouse 1975

CCGS Sir James Douglas - photo F&O Canada

 In 1975 we (myself, my wife Karen and our two young children, our dog, cats, and all our furnishings) were on our way clockwise around Vancouver Island from Quatsino lighthouse to Pachena Point on board the CCGS Sir James Douglas with acting Captain Tom Hull. This was a grocery run so the trip was already pre-planned and we were just passengers. 

The seas were not high but as we rounded Cape Scott, the northern-most tip of Vancouver Island, we began to roll in the southwest swell. As we motored around into quieter waters on the inside of Vancouver Island, we were still being tossed around by occasional large ocean swells.  Continue reading

A Language Problem

– story from Candy-Lea Chickite

My grandmother loved to tell this one to me. I think she may have had the wrong name of the lighthouse keeper. She said it was her father, or maybe she said her father told her the story – I was young when I heard it but I think it may have been a Mr. Grafton who was the fellow involved. I believe the story is true . . .  (a Thomas Grafton was on Point Atkinson lighthouse from 1889 – 1910 and his dates are right for this story – JC)

Back before the days of radios, when a ship entered the Vancouver Harbour they would use a megaphone and call in the name of their ship to the lighthouse at Point Atkinson

One pitch black evening a horn sounded, the keeper hailed his welcome and asked the vessel to identify itself. 

“Wat-a-matta Maru” was the echoed reply in a heavily accented Oriental voice. 

“I say again, what is the name of your vessel?” hollered the keeper enunciating each work emphatically. 

“Wat-a-matta Maru!” 

“This is the Point Atkinson lighthouse, and I DEMAND you identify your vessel before entering the harbour!” replied the keeper of the light. 

Again, “Wat-a-matta Maru!” was the return call. 

Incensed now, the lighthouse keeper yelled back, “There’s NOTHING the matter with me, WHAT the HELL’s the matter with YOU!” 


Santa Claus Visits Lighthouses Too!

Besides the mail, the other most important event on the lighthouses was the arrival of Santa Claus! 1

Santa at McInnes Island

One cannot imagine the excitement of the kids during the week before the scheduled Santa arrival. Depending on the station, this could take place anywhere from December 6th to December 18th. Couldn’t leave it much later otherwise Santa wouldn’t get all his other work done. 

Cookies were baked, rooms were cleaned (really!) and the best clothes laid out. 

By the way, Santa had his own special helicopter – sometimes a big one, sometimes a small one! 

In the early days he was transported by ship and flown off the ship by a very small helicopter so that he could visit the lighthouse children. Later he had his own private Coast Guard helicopter for the day and night, which flew him out of Victoria, BC or Prince Rupert, BC.  Continue reading