Sunday, June 12, 2016

Day 2 of the 2016 Opening weekend at St. Helena

While windy until afternoon, Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day.
 Mark Siegman arrives at the dock to check out the solar power system he helped to design. It was a good thing we managed to get the dock installed the prior day.

 Mark tells us about his trip across from the mainland. 

Every year we take a sample from the well to ensure that the water is potable. After pumping the well to ensure it is running clean, we have to continually pump it for 30 minutes before taking the sample - a task that was undertaken in shifts by a number of us. 

 The official sample is taken per instructions and sealed for delivery to the water department back in St. Ignace on our return to the mainland. Thankfully,we receive word from the water department on Monday afternoon that the water is potable, and we can safely use it again this year.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 opening weekend at St. Helena Island Light Station

Departure on Saturday morning was a little chilly, cold and choppy, but as you can see from people's faces, spirits were high.

The fog burned off quickly, and while it was pretty windy, Bob Brunais hoisted our flag at the top of the tower to let the world know we have returned. 

Ric and Ales Mixter share a selfie moment in the lantern.

One of our tower windows blew open during the winter storms, completely shattering the frame. It mist have happened while there was a great deal of snow was on the ground because the pane of glass was lying on the rocks below in one piece!
  Lots of weeds growing everywhere this year. The Boy Scouts will doubtless take care of these during Scout Week 2016 which starts this coming weekend.

Terry Pepper and Alex Mixter grab a bite to eat in the kitchen.

 Sunset Saturday over the historic St. Helena privy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Learn about lighthouses in the Straits of Mackinac on July 18

Join our Executive Director Terry Pepper at 6:30 PM on July 18 at the Otsego County Library in Gaylord where he will give a presentation on the awesome lighthouses which guide mariners through the Straits of Mackinac. No charge for admission.


More from Cheboygan

A couple of today's photos by Judy and Marcia - our volunteer keepers at the Cheboyan River Front Range Light through the coming weekend. Have fun ladies. This apple tree was planted by keeper John Duffy a hundred years ago. While twisted and gnarled, and definitely showing signs of its advanced age, it still provides some wonderful shade and produces hundreds of tasty apples every fall.


Marcia heads back into the lighthouse after an afternoon in Mackinaw City.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Welcome to our first volunteer keepers for 2016

Judy and Marcia are serving as our volunteer keepers at the Cheboygan River Front Range Light over Memorial Day Weekend. They are having a great time and are enjoying taking folks through the lighthouse, sharing its history and showing the huge amount of work we still have to undertake to return the station to its original glory. 


This sunrise photo over the Cheboygan River was taken by Marcia from the gallery this morning. They will be back next weekend - stop by and say "hi" if you are in the area.

Monday, August 3, 2015

August 2015

August 1 - The 650 foot FEDERAL YUKON entering the Round Island Passage as seen during tonight's Shepler's Eastbound Sunset Lighthouse Cruise.
August 1 - Sunset off the east side of Bois Blanc Island as seen during tonight's Shepler's Eastbound Sunset Lighthouse Cruise.
August 1 - The light was on at Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse  during tonight's Shepler's Eastbound Sunset Lighthouse Cruise.
August 1 - The Cheboygan Crib Light as we passed by during tonight's Shepler's Eastbound Sunset Lighthouse Cruise.
August 2 - It has been a stormy day in the Straits of Mackinac. We had 65 mile per hour winds which knocked over a couple of trailers on the Mackinac Bridge. Fortunately, everything is in great shape at St. Helena Island, where our volunteers and participants in the Fiddlers Workshop have been boathouse for an all day jam session. Our volunteers at the Cheboygan River Front Range Light report that the power has been out there since 10:00 AM, and they saw a couple of large trees flowing past the lighthouse a short time after the worst of the storm went through. Hopefully the weather will moderate, as National Restoration will be arriving tomorrow morning to begin our long awaited foundation restoration at the lighthouse.
The crew with National Restoration arrived in Cheboygan last night, and at 8:30 this morning were already busy excavating the southwest side of foundation at our Cheboygan River Front Range Light. Two thirds of the cost of this much needed work is being undertaken through a grant from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program, which is wholly funded through the sale of Michigan lighthouse license plates.
August 3 - Excavating to expose the foundation wall on the southwest side of the lighthouse this morning.
August 3 - The brick foundation of the addition to the rear of the dwelling was found to be in excellent shape, and after wire brushing was immediately covered with waterproofing material without any restoration necessary.
August 3 - However, this was not the case with the older random stone foundation which is requiring some stone replacement to fill holes and a lot of tuck pointing as seen in this photo taken at 3:30 PM .... and it gets worse on the other sides of the structure! Once the entire foundation has been cleaned, restored, tuck-pointed and sealed, a perimeter drain will be bedded in pea gravel around the entire foundation to carry water away from the foundation.
August 4 - Today, a group of us headed out to St. Helena Island to pull the roll-out dock, drop off our final group of volunteers for the summer and bring the participants of the Fiddler's Workshop back to the mainland. Here some of our our outbound crew can be seen on the aft deck of UGLY ANNE off McGulpin Point. Our constant companion, the Mackinac Bridge can be seen in the distance.
August 4 - After dropping of the crew and their gear and loading the gear from the Fiddlers, UGLY ANNE backed away from the roll-out dock to tie up to one of our moorings.
August 4 - The weather cleared around 11:30 and it was beautiful as we winched the dock sections up onto shore.
August 4 - With the dock safely secured on shore, we jumped into our two Zodiacs AMARANTH and MARIGOLD and headed out to UGLY ANNE for the run back to Mackinaw City.
August 4 -Boarding UGLY ANNE at our mooring. She has a slide in door in her side which makes climbing aboard from the Zodiacs a breeze.
August 4 - St. Helena Island in the rear view mirror.
August 4 - Passing beneath the Bridge on the way back to Mackinaw City is always a pleasure.
August 4 - National Restoration continued foundation restoration at our Cheboygan River Front Range Light today. They have excavated the entire southeast side of the building, and have already installed the perimeter drain and pea gravel and back-filled in the first area they completed yesterday.
August 4 - Cleaning the face of the rubble stone foundation in preparation for tuck-pointing and sealing.
August 4 - Excavation has begun on the front of the building, and restoration and tuck-pointing is underway on the first side.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July 2015

July 1 - Mark Vandervelde was busy cooking brats for his fellow volunteers at our St. Helena Island light station earlier this evening.
July 2 - It's another beautiful, crisp morning at our St. Helena Island Light Station.
You could wake up to this view as one of our volunteer keepers.
July 2 - Early morning chores at our St. Helena Island Light Station - pumping water for hand washing stations.
July 2 - We had some visitors pull up to our dock at St. Helena Island bright and early this morning. Here volunteer Mark Vandevelde (l) gives them a tour of the Assistant keepers dwelling. We love it when folks come to visit the island!
July 2 - Pizza and salad for lunch at our St. Helena Light Station today. Anybody hungry?
July 2 - In preparation for their celebration of Independence Day, St. Helena volunteer keepers Lori and Michelle decided to replace the white gull flags on our dock with something a little more appropriate!
July 2 - Moonrise over the Mackinac Bridge as seen from St. Helena Island this evening.
July 3 - Michelle and Lori are making more preparations to mark "The Fourth" at our St. Helena Island Light Station.
July 3 - An array of Showy Lady Slippers on St. Helena Island
July 3 - Showy Lady Slipper closeup on St. Helena Island
July 3 - Yellow Lady Slippers on St. Helena Island
July 4 - Lori makes good use of our new solar power to prepare some whipped cream to top the group's dinner dessert.
July 4 - Joan takes some time to organize and clean the library in the keepers office.
July 4 - Ann cleaning windows to clarify the situation.
July 4 - Mark and Hogan work on rebuilding the deteriorating entrance steps to the rear of the assistant keepers dwelling.
July 4 - Michelle busy scraping. Since the lantern is an exact cast iron replica of the original, at least we know there is no lead in the paint and they do not have to wear masks!
July 4 - Lori working on paint removal in the steamy lantern. Once the pint is all removed, the cast iron will be wire brushed, primed, and painted.
July 4 - Mark and Hogan have completed their rebuild of the south rear entry into the assistant keepers dwelling
July 4 - the cream whipped earlier in the day ended up on this beautiful red, white and blue patriotic dessert.
July 5 - Hogan putting the final touches on the construction of a new bench for St. Helena.
July 5 - A whispy line of fog in the clearing to the north of the lighthouse at St. Helena Island this morning.
July 5 - Volunteer keeper Joan prepping one of the basement window frames for paint this morning at our St. Helena Island light station. Lighthouse preservation is a never ending commitment that is only possible through the dedication of our wonderful volunteers.
July 5 -Cleaning lunchtime dishes - lighthouse style.
July 5 - Lori provides the finishing touch for the new bench at St. Helena with some freehand routing.
July 5 - Three boats at the dock this afternoon - twelve visitors touring the light station.
July 6 - Post July Fourth sunrise as seen on our "big screen TV" - the boathouse door.
July 6 - Hogan, Mark and Lori have modified the swim ladder on the new dock to accommodate the deeper
water levels this year.
July 6 - A beautiful wood lily found near the lighthouse this morning.
July 6 - Lori and Michelle finished scraping the lantern astragals and applied primer, and are now adding the finish coat of white Rustoleum.
July 6 - Hogan, MaryAnn and Mark have finished building and installing a new sturdy railing on the back steps to the assistant keepers dwelling.
July 6 - Work on the new bench for St. Helena is finished, and it takes it place of honor right in front of the boat house.
July 7 - Today was one of our busiest days at St. Helena Island. We started the day at 7:00 AM when we took 19 people out to spend a "lunch at the lighthouse" day on the island, and at 5:00 PM we delivered 8 new volunteer keepers, retrieved six more and returned the 19 lunch guests to the mainland.Here we see the buffet style lunch spread laid out for our visitors.
July 7 - Our "Lunch at St. Helena" visitors making their way through the lunch line. Positive comments from everyone on account of MaryAnn's wonderful meal planning.

July 8 - Our new crew of volunteers who arrived yesterday are busy cleaning the east end of the assistant keepers dwelling preparatory to repainting. If you have been following us this year, you will remember that Boy Scout Jack Debacker rebuilt this end of the building earlier as his Eagle Scout service project
July 8 - Food preparation in the summer kitchen is a constant process in the summer kitchen when you have ten hungry mouths to feed.
July 8 - Whacking weeds into submission along the path from the assistant keepers dwelling to the main island.
July 8 - Mudding drywall on the newly constructed east wall of the assistant keepers dwelling.
July 8 - Cleaning and reorganizing supplies in the station cellar. A much easier task thanks to the solar powered electric lights Boy Scout Eli Levine installed in pursuit of his Eagle Scout service award earlier this year.
July 8 - Volunteers Greg and Debbie applying the first finish paint coat on the east end of the assistant keepers dwelling at St. Helena this afternoon
July 8 - What better way to end out the day on a remote island in Lake Michigan than a beach bonfire with your fellow volunteers! You can bet these folks will sleep well tonight!
July 8 - Another beautiful and productive day at St. Helena comes to an end. Sleep tight everyone.
July 9 - Volunteers Debbie and Greg were busy this morning applying a second coat of paint to the refurbished east wall of the assistant keepers dwelling at our St. Helena Island Light Station.
July 9 - Volunteers Cilla and Sandy were hiking around the wsetern end of St. Helena Island this morning when they saw three fox kits. This is the first time we have seen foxes on the island. Their parents must have come across the ice over the winter. Unfortunately, neither Cilla nor Sandy had cameras with them, so this photo from the National Wildlife Federation website will have to suffice until someone manages to snap them.
July 10 - Our crew of St. Helena volunteers on the deck of a Shepler's Ferry boat at 7:30 this morning as they departed from St. Helena Island. Thanks for your wonderful work!
July 10 - The new crew sits down to enjoy an Al Fresco lunch at the picnic table at the foot of the tower.
July 10 - The island is a great place to learn to handle a kayak on a perfect Lake Michigan afternoon.
July 10 - Sittin' on the dock of the bay - wastin' time!
July 11 - A beautiful morning in the Straits of Mackinac as visitors at our mooring on St. Helena Island raised their sail and departed.
July 11 - Geocaching in the woods on St. Helena Island.
July 11 - Pumping water -  a seemingly never-ending island occupation
July 12 - It looked like the folks with the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society were having a successful open house as we passed by on this afternoon's Eastbound Shepler's Lighthouse Cruise
July 12 - Larry Stowits served as a Coast Guard keeper at White Shoal Light Station in northern Lake Michigan in 1959. Today, we were honored to be able to arrange for him to take his first trip back to the station in 56 years. Sadly, we were unable to accompany him as there was no room left on the vessel. We would loved to have been able to record his memories as he made his way through the station.
July 12 - Our volunteers on St. Helena Island took the day off and kayaked around the island to the site of the old village on the north side of the island.
July 12 - Photo of the St. Helena Island Light Station taken from one of the station kayaks this afternoon.
July 12 - While the flapping "flags" help discourage seagulls from the roll-out dock at our St. Helena Island Light Station, they are by no means 100% effective, and the dock requires frequent washing.
July 13 - Another keeper swap day at our St. Helena Island station. Always a bittersweet day as one crew leaves and another arrives. Here the departing crew washes their final batch of lunch dishes before heading back to the mainland.
July 13 - First-time keeper Dan and his yellow lab Moxie arrived at St. Helena Island Light Station earlier today, and are spending a quiet evening at the picnic table by the tower.
July 13 - Moxie guards the supply-filled Rubbermaid tubs in the kitchen as Principal keeper MaryAnn explains the layout of the land to new volunteer keepers Jill and Reason.
July 13 - Moxie checks-out today's rapidly rising water level at our roll-out dock.
July 14 - Jill is busy in the lighthouse cellar cleaning and organizing the innumerable containers of nails, screws and miscellaneous hardware required in order to be prepared to effect any kind of repair which may rear its head.
July 14 - Reason uses a flashlight to get a good view as he applies a final touch-up of plaster in preparation for priming the inner east wall of the assistant keepers dwelling.
July 14 - The mother and daughter team of Phyllis and Robin are busy in the station boathouse creating new signs for each of our four bedrooms on the second floor of the dwelling at our St. Helena Island light station.
July 14 - Boy Scout Eli Levine's Eagle Scout project to install solar power in the dwelling at our St. Helena Island Light Station came in handy today, allowing us to use a crock pot to cook tonight's chili for our hungry volunteers on the island.
July 14 - Good evening world from the lantern at the St. Helena Island Light Station.
July 15 - 21st century ingenuity - St. Helena Island Light Station volunteer Robin makes good use of a 5-gallon bucket, hot water from the on-demand propane showers and a brand new toilet plunger as a washing machine to wash some of her clothes.
July 15 - Sometimes you just need to find an isolated place to clear your head - even on an isolated island.

July 16 - A sailboat tied up to one of our offshore moorings at St. Helena Island this morning and Reason headed out with one of our Zodiacs to bring them to shore for a tour of the light station.
July 16 - We were honored to have MaryAnn Moore, Principal Keeper at our St. Helena Island Light Station, board the boat during today's Westbound Shepler's Lighthouse Cruise. She took the mic and regaled people with a description how our volunteers on the island get to live the keepers life.
July 16 - The view of St. Helena Island Light Station as seen while MaryAnn was at the mic this afternoon.
July 17 - John and Helen Blythe are serving as our volunteer keepers at the Cheboygan River Front Range Light for the next two weekends. They will be happy to give you a tour of both the Front Range and the Cheboygan Crib Lights if you are in the area - and don't forget to ask them to stamp you lighthouse passport!
UGLY ANNE loaded and ready to head out to St. Helena Island with 20 wonderful guests on our one day Lunch At St. Helena excursion.
July 22 - UGLY ANNE beneath the Mackinac Bridge headed for St,. Helena Island Light Station.
July 22 - Volunteers Pan and Susie in the summer kitchen at St. Helena as they prepare lunch for our guests while Corey Adkins of TV9&10 records the days activities for a future news closeup. (Moxie stands guard in the event some of the foods makes its way to the floor!.)
July 22 - Our lunch guests were split up into smaller groups and given a tour of the light station. Here long-time GLLKA volunteer Michelle (in the white shirt) provides an overview of the history of the light station to her group.
July 22 - A group of lunch guests make their way through he lunch line in the lighthouse summer kitchen.
We always eat well at St. Helena Island!
July 22 - What better way to enjoy a wonderful lunch on a gorgeous northern Michigan day than on the picnic benches at the foot of the lighthouse tower.
July 22 - TV 9&10 Videographer Corey Adkins interviews St. Helena Lighthouse Principal Keeper MaryAnn Moore with the Mackinac Bridge visible seven miles to the east.
July 22 - After lunch, our guests were given free time to explore the light station and east end of the island on their own. Here, a small group of people look for that "perfect shooting location" on the end of our crib dock.
July 22 - Meanwhile, our volunteers cleaned the lunch dished behind the lighthouse in front of the assistant keepers dwelling.
July 22 - UGLY ANNE Captain Chris West and one of our guests relax in the shade of the boathouse and enjoy the unique view of the Straits of Mackinac.
July 22 - Their visit over, UGLY ANNE pulls away from the dock as some of our guests lean over the side to get a "last minute shot" of the light station before turning to head back to Mackinaw City.
July 22 - With the crowd gone, and just three volunteers remaining at the light station, the wildlife with whom we share the island started to come out of hiding. This young snowshoe hare stepped out onto the concrete sidewalk to watch MaryAnn as she made her way around the station.
July 22 - The long day over, the setting sun cats its final rays on the upper part of the lighthouse tower as our volunteers prepare to turn in for the night. A big THANK YOU to all our volunteers who helped make our lunch guests feel welcome, and a part of the story of this beautiful island.
July 23 - A two-masted sailing vessel passed to the east of our St. Helena Island Light Station during lunch today.
July 23 - Principal keeper MaryAnn suited up for combat with the poison ivy at our St. Helena Light Station this afternoon.
July 23 - Goodnight world - we'll keep the light on for you!
July 24 - The promise of a great new day on a peaceful island in northern Michigan.
July 24 - Today, our St. Helena Island Light Station volunteers are repairing some cracks in the wall in one of the bedrooms in the main dwelling.
July 24 - Yet another beautiful sunset tonight from the gallery at our St. Helena Island Light Station. Sleep well everyone.
July 25 - St. Helena Island Light Station Principal Keeper MaryAnn Moore is busy patching some peeling plaster in one of the lighthouse bedrooms. Maintenance is a never ending task in an unheated brick building on an isolated island.
July 25 - Today, a 41-foot Tartan sailboat moored at St. Helena with a Student Ministries Director, Captain and four teenage boys from the Youth Group at Petoskey Presbyterian Church. They will be staying with us for a couple of days and the boys will be doing some volunteer work. Here, we see Jake, the Director and the four boys enjoying the old pump organ in the lighthouse parlor.
July 25 - The Petoskey Youth Group boat on the mooring in front of the light station.
July 25 - The leader and boys from Petoskey jumped right in helping out in any way they could.
July 26 - Today, Director Jake and the four young men with the Petoskey Youth Group are busy moving stone to build up sinking areas around the pathways at our St. Helena Island light station.

July 26 - The boys work at filling-in with stone to the north of the boat house.
July 26 - The 335-foot PEARL MIST dwarfed the Mackinac Island dock yesterday during the eastbound Shepler's Lighthouse Cruise.
July 26 - It was almost 90 degrees this afternoon, and Moxie took the opportunity to languish in the breeze on the St. Helena Island Light Station crib dock.
July 26 - The Petoskey boys decided to take to the water to cool off. This group works and plays hard!
July 26 - MaryAnn took advantage of the cooler setting sun to repaint the license numbers on our Zodiac MARIGOLD.
July 26 - The boys discovered a new use for our baggage wagons.
July 26 - You've got to hand it to these young men - they know how to work and play hard!
July 27 - White Shoal Light Station as seen during tonight's Shepler's Westbound Sunset Cruise. The lake was so calm tonight that an 18-foot open runabout had made it out to the lighthouse!
July 27 - Grays Reef Light Station as seen during tonight's Shepler's Westbound Sunset Cruise. You have to love northern Lake Michigan.
July 28 - We have a group of quilters enjoying the the peace and quiet that only an isolated island light station like St. Helena can afford.
July 28 - With only limited solar-powered electricity on the island, hand sewing is the order of the day.
July 28 - Another beautiful sunset at our St. Helena Island Light Station. Surely, It doesn't get any better than this!
July 29 - We received word that the school sailing vessel INLAND SEAS from Suttons Bay is headed for St. Helena Island and should arrive in time for dinner.
July 29 - INLAND SEAS arrived and is secured to one of our two moorings in front of the light station. The crew and students will likely stay overnight and head back south tomorrow evening. It's great to have Captain Ben Hale back at St. Helena.
July 29 - 10 high school and college students from the INLAND SEAS explore the lighthouse and meet our volunteers.
July 29 - INLAND SEAS Captain Ben Hale brought his fiddle to the dining room and filled the lighthouse with music.
July 29 - As music and happy voices filled the dwelling, the light blinked on to faithfully served mariners as it has every night since September 20, 1873. Good night from St. Helena Island.
July 30 - The seemingly never ending task of filling in gravel at the inner end of the roll-out dock continued today, as the crew of the INLAND SEAS stepped up to help load gravel in preparation for pulling the dock from the lake next month. THANKS for your help!
July 30 - In the heat of the afternoon, some of the crew of INLAND SEA took the opportunity to cool of in the shade around the picnic tables at the east end of the lighthouse.
July 30 - The INLAND SEAS will be casting-off after dinner this evening and making her way back to Suttons Bay. Captain Ben used our large picnic table to spread out this charts to plot a course for their journey home.
July 30 - We had high winds all day, and were unable to get the Fiddlers Workshop participants out to St. Helena on schedule. By 7:00 PM, the winds abated somewhat and we decided to send these fine folks out to the island by Zodiac from the north shore. This photo shows our two Zodiacs arriving on shore to pick up the Fiddlers Workshop participants to transport them to St. Helena Island, two miles off in the background. As you can see, it was a somewhat rough, but safe trip.