Friday, July 5, 2013

July at the St. Helena Island Light Station

JULY 1 - St. Helena Island is not only a beautiful place by virtue of our lighthouse which is
located on the small islet at its southeastern corner. The remainder of the island is
part of the Little Traverse Nature Conservancy which celebrates and preserves the
pristine natural beauty of the main island. The natural beauty which abounds on the
island is exemplified by this splendid stand of Showy Lady Slippers (Cypripedium
reginae)  only 1/8 of the expanse of which is visible in this photograph. If you are
interested in more information about this rare plant, Click HERE to go to the
Wikipedia page on this beautiful wild flower.

JULY 2 - Clearly, some of the fauna on St. Helena Island have a very different understanding of the purpose of toilet paper than the humans living on the island!
July 4 - Volunteer Mark VanderVelde spent this morning building a bench to be placed on our new dock at the St. Helena Island light station.
July 4 - After Mark finished building the new bench for our new dock, Lori Jenks picked up the router and hand-routed "HEAVEN ON EARTH" on the seating surface of the new bench. Free-hand lettering with a router requires a steady hand, and Lori is a master at the art.

JULY 5 - Volunteers Michele VanderVelde, Joe Lane and Lori Jenks washing the lantern
windows at the St. Helena Island light station this morning. On hot summer days
such as this, works starts early so as to avoid the heat of the midday sun.
JULY 5 -We make maximum use of the oil storage building at our St. Helena Island light
station, using it to store all our flammable liquids. However, with only one shelf, things
quickly got disorganized. After we transported a second set of steel shelves to the island
during the Shepler's Westbound Lighthouse Cruise last Wednesday, head keeper
MaryAnn Moore removed everything from the building, installed the new shelves, and
returned everything to the building in an organized manner. THANK YOU for taking care
of this much needed improvement MaryAnn!
JULY 5 -A busy day at our St. Helena Island light station. Volunteers Michelle
VanderVelde and Lori Jenks are painting the shutters on the dwelling the correct
green coloration after many years of being painted the incorrect brown color seen here.

JULY 5 -MaryAnn Moore, volunteer principal keeper at our St. Helena Island light spent
part of today pruning branches which are intruding into the path which leads to the pit
toilets at the St. Helena Island light station.
JULY 5 -We are elated to see that Michelle and Lori finished painting all three sets of shutters on the south side of the lighthouse today. Thank you both for your hard work - it looks GREAT!
JULY 6 - Here are the fruits of Mark and Lori's labor - the new bench they built and routed for our new dock. Great work! Our volunteers are great - we couldn't do it without their selfless assistance.
JULY 6 - Volunteer Mike Hogan working on a wash stand he designed and built. This
wash stand will get some heavy use, as it is to be placed outside the summer kitchen
at our St. Helena Island light station. Super work Mike - thanks for your help.
JULY 6 - Painting the shutters on the second floor windows on the east end of the
lighthouse is certainly not as easy as painting those on the first floor. Here, painter
Michelle VenderVelde and "spotter" Lori Jenks tackle the task with the aid of a long
roller handle. Great going ladies - LOVE those green shutters. I can't wait to see
them on the Shepler's Westbound Lighthouse Cruise on Tuesday!

JULY 11 - The early morning sun bathes the light station to welcomes everyone to a new day of service and discovery at our St. Helena Island light station this morning.

JULY 11 - Volunteer keeper Carrie Burkett sanding and repainting clapboards on the boathouse at our St. Helena Island light station this morning.

JULY 11 - Volunteer keepers Deb Fork and Susie Safford busy in the summer kitchen at out St. Helena Island light station preparing a big garden salad to go with tonight's supper at the St. Helena Island light station. If you are interested in volunteering at either of our lighthouses, go to our website at and click on the "Volunteer at Cheboygan" or "Volunteer at St. Helena " links for more information.
JULY 12 - The view from the outside dining area at the St. Helena Island light station this morning. In just a few days, this vista will be filled with sail boats heading for the bridge and Mackinac Island beyond as they rush to the finish of the annual Chicago to Mackinac race.
JULY 14 - We seldom know the skills and preferences our new volunteers have
when they arrive to help us at our lighthouses. Soon after volunteer
Carrie Burkett arrived at our St. Helena Island light station on Wednesday
July 10 it became clear that she was an excellent painter who thankfully
loved to paint. Eager to help out, Carrie has sent most of the past for days
sanding and painting the exterior of the boathouse, which is looking great as a result.
A big THANK you to Carrie and all our wonderful volunteers who give so willingly of their time and energy in helping keep the St. Helena dream alive.
JULY 15 - Volunteers Claudia Douglas and Carrie Burkett take time to relax and enjoy the bench at the end of our new dock at St. Helena Island light station this afternoon. You can make some great new friends at an island lighthouse, free from the stresses of modern day life.
JULY 17 - After a blistering hot day, the Straits clouded over quickly and it rained early this evening, providing some relief from the elevated temperatures. However, the rain did not last long, and our volunteers at the St. Helena Island light station were treated to a beautiful evening.
JULY 19 - We had a short but violent pop-up storm blast through the Straits of Mackinac
at around 9:30 last night. While our volunteers at the light station all fared well, secure
within the dwelling, "Old Glory" and its normally vertical pole on the gallery railing
did not fare so well.
JULY 19 - This trunk of a triple-trunked cedar tree at the northeast corner of the
lighthouse was another casualty of last night's storm which blew through
the St. Helena Island light station. Fortunately, the trunk narrowly missed the
information display built by Boy Scout Karl Koto, for which he earned his
Eagle Scout service award twenty years ago this year.
JULY 19 - Another cedar to the west of the St. Helena light station which toppled during last night's storm. We used to call this the "stadium seating" because it's low hanging curved branch served as a great place to sit and watch the many birds which frequented this group of trees.
JULY 19 - The final fallen tree photo from last night's squall at the St. Helena Island light station - this one on the south side of the lighthouse. We were very fortunate that none of the trees caused any damage to the station infrastructure, and even more fortunate that our stalwart volunteers were able to weather the blow within the safe confines of the main and assistant keepers dwellings.
JULY 19 - Our St. Helena Island light station was not the only location in the Straits of
Mackinac to suffer during last night's storm, as can be seen in this photograph courtesy
of 9&10 News which shows a semi which was blown over by the high winds as it was
headed towards the Upper Peninsula across the Mackinac Bridge.
JULY 24 - Volunteers Chuck and Carol Lambert rehang the
repainted screen door at the summer kitchen at the St. Helena light
station this afternoon. Thanks for the wonderful help folks!
JULY 24 - We have a beautiful old barrel which has been sitting outside
the door at the rear of the St. Helena Island light station, and while we are
not sure exactly how it came to be there or what purpose it serves, it
has been slowly deteriorating over the years. Volunteer Chuck Lambert
felt pity for the barrel, and put some energy and time into restoring it this week.
Part of the process involved hand-crafting these special nails to hold
one of the loosening hoops in place.
JULY 24 - While we are still in the dark as to the specific purpose of
the barrel, it sure looks great since Chuck devoted his time and energy
to its rejuvenation! Thanks Chuck!
July 25 - Volunteers Chuck Lambert and Susie Safford take time to pose with their progress in cutting up one of the trees which was toppled by the wind storm which hit the St. Helena Island light station a week ago. The devastation of the storm is necessarily being taken care of slowly in order to ensure the safety of our wonderful volunteers. Thank you so much for your dedication.
JULY 26 - This afternoon's steady rains gave way to a beautiful evening replete with a rainbow to wave farewell to another great day at the St. Helena Island light station.
JULY 27 - Although they had already spent a week on the island in late June, Bob and Sue Brunais kindly volunteered to return to the island today for a couple of days. Bob is a master with a chain saw and his expertise is welcomed in helping remove some of the remaining trees which fell during the July 18 storm.
JULY 27 - Thanks to the chainsaw skills of Bob Brunais, the cedar trunk which was hung up between two adjacent trunks at the St. Helena Island light station was safely removed, again opening the sidewalk to foot traffic.
JULY 27 - Volunteers Jamie Anderson and Sally Bingham busy washing lunch dishes at the St. Helena Island light station earlier today.
JULY 27 - Our wonderful volunteers enjoy a restful "al fresco" dinner this evening after a hard day of work at the St. Helena Island light station. If this looks like something you might like to do, click the following link to learn more.
JULY 27 - Lest we give the impression that it's "all work and no play" for our volunteers at the St. Helena Island light station, here we see Eric and Jamie Anderson and their son Taylor and Pan Godchaux returning from a kayak trip around the island earlier today
JULY 28 - An early start for the day as volunteers Bob and Sue Brunais clean up broken limbs on an apple tree to the south of the St. Helena Island light station.
JULY 28 - After we removed the cedar that was hung up between two sister trunks at the northeast corner of the St. Helena Island lighthouse, we found that its sisters were in very bad condition, showing major cracks and insect damage.
JULY 28 - Since the two remaining trunks could do considerable damage to the dwelling and the information kiosk, we felt we had no alternative but to remove them.
While it will take some getting used to the visual change, the removal of the trees which were formerly located directly in front of the tower at the St. Helena Island light station brings the light station closer to its appearance 100 years ago.