Sunday, June 29, 2014

Our Volunteers Return

Saturday June 21 - Scout Week 2014 has come to and end, and the throng of boys,
leaders and parents have departed. Our faithful volunteers under the leadership
of the amazing MaryAnn Moore have returned to run the station for the next
two months. Stay tuned - we have a busy summer planned!

Sunday June 22 - The midges have returned to St. Helena Island. Not quite as bad as they were on our trip out to open the station three weeks ago, but bad enough that all our volunteers are all sporting their bug shields.And if you decide to brave the woods as Jamie, MaryAnn and Taylor are here, tick-proof socks and rolled in pants are the order of the day. All part of the joy of communing with nature. Because of the late winter, everything is about three weeks behind normal here in northern Michigan.

Sunday June 22 - Principal Keeper MaryAnn Moore sent us this shot of tonight's diner at the St. Helena Island light station. Chicken and biscuits, corn on the cob, and pumpkin custard with whipped cream for dessert! She says "Sorry folks - it's too late and it's all gone!"
Sunday June 22 - Young volunteer Taylor Anderson installing water lines for the propane
heated showers at the St. Helena Island light station earlier today. He and his mom are
staying at the lighthouse for the next two weeks. Share your love of lighthouses with your
children and grandchildren then take them with you to volunteer at your nearest
lighthouse.They will gain vital skills and self confidence that they will carry with them
for the rest of their lives.
Monday June 23 - A thorough spring cleaning is the first order of the new week,
and after carefully moving all the furniture Dianne Michaelson gives
the beautiful Douglas Fir parlor floor a thorough cleaning.

Monday June 23 - In the adjacent room, Jamie Anderson gives the dining room mirror some careful attention.
Monday June 23 - Meanwhile, Jamie's son Taylor shows off his culinary
prowess by baking chocolate Rice Crispy Treats for the team's
snacking enjoyment.
Tuesday June 24 - Jamie Anderson and her son Taylor are busy making home made coleslaw
in the St. Helena kitchen this afternoon.
Wednesday June 25 - Our volunteer keepers at our St. Helena Island light station had some visitors arrive at our new dock today! While thankfully, the water at our original crib dock has risen this year, there is still insufficient water depth to allow boats larger than our Zodiacs to tie up there. Once we add the two extensions to the new dock next week, much larger boats will have no problem visiting the island without being forced to anchor offshore.
Wednesday June 25  - It turned out that the visitors to the Island were none other
than GLLKA President Steve Sheridan and some of his family, who motored their
Boston Whaler all the way from Bois Blanc Island, 20 miles to the east. Shown here
at lunch from left to right: Jamie Anderson, Taylor Anderson, Brent Sheridan
(Steve's son), Tanya Sheridan (Steve's wife), Steve Sheridan and MaryAnn Moore.
Dianne Michaelson left the table to take the photo.

Wednesday, June 25 - Taylor is tackling the tower. He started sweeping at the top this
morning, and has made it to the bottom this afternoon - keep up the great work young man!

Thursday June 26 - With today being the first real sunny day at St. Helena Island since
our volunteers returned last Saturday, they are taking advantage of the opportunity to air
all the station's clean laundry.

Thursday June 26 - Our Executive Director Terry Pepper narrated Shepler's first Westbound nighttime Lighthouse Cruise. After stopping at St. Helena, we set out to White Shoal light station to capture some breathtaking views of the sun setting behind the iconic lighthouse.

Thursday June 26 - After leaving White Shoal, the Shepler's Ferry HOPE headed south to view Grays Reef, with its red light making the lantern glow like a ruby.
Friday June 27 - Steve Sheridan, Terry Pepper, Mike Crawford and Mary Pepper arrived on St. Helena island to begin assembly of the final two section of our dock to take it out to the five foot depth at its outer end. Here Steve Sheridan and Mike Crawford assemble the main support components in the boat house.

Saturday June 28 - Morning at St. Helena Island, the existing dock sections were separated and one of the sections pulled to shore to allow the new sections to be inserted. Seen here from left to right are Steve Sheridan, Jamie and Taylor Anderson, MaryAnn Moore, Mike Crawford and Mary Pepper.
Saturday June 28 - Early in the afternoon at the St. Helena Island light station the extended dock was run out and assembled, and while Steve Sheridan installed the shore ramps in the foreground, Taylor Anderson and Terry Pepper prepared to begin leveling each section.
Saturday June 28 - This photograph from the north shows the extended dock after leveling. Because of an old lake contour beneath the surface, one end of a section of deck to the right could not be lowered sufficiently to get it level. We will shorten that leg pair when we pull the dock in at the end of the season.
Saturday June 28 - One unexpected and happy consequence of the new dock at St. Helena Island light station was the discovery that it makes an excellent place from which to take a jump into the cool clear waters of Lake Michigan, as demonstrated by Jamie Anderson.
Sunday June 29 - A windy afternoon after an early afternoon storm created a perfect opportunity for Taylor Anderson and Cassidy Burns to fly a kite in front of the St. Helena Island light station today.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Scout Week 2014 at St. Helena Island

Monday June 16 - The incredible boys, parents and advisers associated with Ann Arbor Boy Scout Troop 4 have been back on St. Helena Island working their annual week of miracles since Saturday. Here Scout Troy Morgan works on his Eagle Scout project to complete the interior finishing of the original assistant keepers dwelling. The building itself was erected by his brother over the past two years in order to earn his Eagle Scout award.

Monday June 16 - For his Eagle Scout project, Boy Scot Eli Levine is installing a solar-powered electrical system to the lighthouse. Here, a Sono tube has been placed in a four-foot deep excavated hole 300 feet to the west of the lighthouse into which the main support post for the solar array will be placed and filled with concrete.
Monday June 16 - In order to get electricity from the solar array to the lighthouse for his Eagle Scout project, Eli Levine and his fellow Scouts are hand excavating a 300 foot long trench between a grove of trees. The white building to the right is the replicated original assistant keepers dwelling built as two Eagle Scout projects by brothers Spencer and Troy Morgan. Great work Troop 4.

Tuesday June 17 -It is raining here in the Straits of Mackinac today, but that has not stopped the boys, parents and advisers with Ann Arbor Boy Scout Troop 4 who continue their work at the St. Helena Island light. Here we see work continuing on the solar power cable trench.

Tuesday June 17 -This tent outside the new assistant keepers dwelling at St. Helena Island allows the good folks with Ann Arbor Troop 4 to cut the flooring for the building without getting soaked in the process.
Tuesday June 17 -  Ann Arbor Boy Scout Troop 4 excavated the hole into which the pole to support the solar array to a depth of 60", which is the specified depth required to support the solar array.
Tuesday June 17 - Troy Morgan and his crew lay flooring in the replicated assistant keepers dwelling 
Tuesday June 17 - The boys, leaders and parents with Ann Arbor Boy Scout Troop 4 also continued excavation of trench for the electrical line from the solar array to the new assistant keepers dwelling.

William Colicott's Eagle Scout award project is to take an exhaustive inventory of all the personal property at the St. Helena Island light station, and enter it into an Excel database he designed. Here we see William (in the red t-shirt) and his team conferring with Eagle Scoot Pogram Coordinator Dean Wise (left)
Tuesday June 17 - A couple of times during Scout Week, the fine folks with Ann Arbor Boy Scout Troop 4 gather fallen limbs and brush and build a huge bonfire out on the beach in front of the St. Helena Island light station. This was Tuesday night's fire.

Wednesday June 18 - Sunrise at St. Helena island this morning. Thankfully, the folks on the island missed a huge thunderstorm which passed just 20 miles to the south.

Wednesday June 18 - Scout mothers Peggy Levine and Nikki Wardner do landmark duty planning and preparing meals for over 40 Boy Scots, parents and leaders during Scout Week at our St. Helena Island light station. Great job ladies!

Wednesday June 18 - Scouts line up for lunch at the kitchen door at our St. Helena Island light station in the beautiful Straits of Mackinac.

Wednesday June 18 - Digging a new privy hole at St. Helena Island. One of many tasks tackled by the boys of Boy Scouts of America Troop 4 from Ann Arbor this week.

Thursday June 19 - Scout parent Thom Saunders braves the rain on Tuesday to use the pressure washer to blast bugs from the exterior of the boat house at our St. Helena Island light station during Scout Week 2014.
Thursday June 19 - Work continues on Scout Eli Levine's Eagle Scout project to install a solar electrical system at our St. Helena Island light station. Here we see the trench for the electrical line is being continued to lighthouse itself.
Friday June 20 - Boy Scout Drew Ceely tries his hand on the pump organ in the parlor at the St. Helena Island light station.
Friday June 20 - 2014 marks the 25th year in succession in which the boys, leaders, parents and advisers with Boy Scouts of America Ann Arbor Troop 4 have made the trek to our St. Helena Island light station to work their miracles. With tonight being the final night of Scout Week 2014, the entire troop celebrated with cake and ice cream! Congratulations to everyone who has been associated with Troop 4 over the past 25 years, and THANK YOU for your amazing dedication to Scouting and lighthouses.

Monday, June 2, 2014

St. Helena Opening Weekend

Friday evening, we took all of our supplies and material  down to the dock in
preparation for loading the following morning..

7:30 AM on Saturday our dauntless team of twelve met at our property in the UP and
loaded our faithful Zodiacs MARIGOLD (top) & AMARANTH (bottom) on the trailer.

MARIGOLD and AMARANTH strapped in and ready for their ride to the waterfront.

The Zodiacs are lifted from the trailer and given their first bath of the 2014 season

The trusty 9.9 Horsepower Honda four strokes are installed on the transoms

With their engines quietly purring in neutral (two pulls for AMARANTH and three for MARIGOLD) the boats are loaded with supplies needed by the four person advance party
MARIGOLD, with Pan Godchaux and Ric Mixter aboard heads out on the two mile trip to
St,. Helena Island as MaryAnn Moore and Marie Koch prepare to follow in AMARANTH..

With AMARANTH on her way, Mike Finn and Terry Pepper walk back to shore to rejoin
the remaining six members of the team for the trip back across the bridge to Mackinaw
From the dark area on one side of Terry's shirt you can see Terry got a little
wetter than he planned!

After driving back across the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw City, the eight of us were
elated to find all of our supplies and material still in place on the dock.

We immediately began loading all our equipment and supplies onto UGLY ANNE.
Here Jim Koch hands one of the main dock support beams for our new roll-in dock
to Margaret Brown on board the boat.
 . . 
Captain Chris West (blue sweatshirt) supervised and assisted Anette Brown (yellow shirt)
and Bob Brunais (in shorts) to ensure that the load was distributed so as to maintain
an even keel for our eight mile run out to St. Helena Island.

Captain Chris, Margaret and Bob receive one of the four sections of scaffolding and
place it in the center of the aft deck.
The loading process is almost complete, we are almost ready to head out. Almost 40
years young, UGLY ANNE is a retired wooden hulled Maine lobster boat and is
Coast Guard certified to carry 39 passengers. 

With the personal gear for our entire 12 member team aboard we are finally ready to cast off
a little after 10:30 AM.

10:30 AM and we pass the retired Icebreaker MACKINAW WAGB 83 as we depart
Mackinaw City. The vessel now serves as one of the nation's premiere maritime
museums and is well worth a visit.
Sue Brunais takes advantage of the opportunity to get some unique photographs as we
 pass beneath  the mighty Mackinac Bridge on a beautiful final day of May. It was difficult
 to realize that the area was still largely packed with ice just a month ago.

Saint Helena Island light station off the port bow!

As we slowly approached St. Helena Island we were happy to see that the advance
team had successfully retrieved and prepared both of our moorings. We headed toward
the northernmost of the two and passed a line to the waiting Zodiacs to secure us. 
The closer we got to shore the more the boat became inundated with midges,
which you can see on the windows.

In succession, the Zodiacs pulled up alongside us and we transferred all of the equipment
supplies. with each run, we sent another of our of our team members, eventually
leaving only two of us and the crew to be delivered to shore.

UGLY ANNE as seen from a fully loaded AMARANTH as she made her way to shore 
under the skilled tiller of St. Helena principal keeper MaryAnn Moore - AKA 
"Lightkeeper Jane." Note that by now, virtually everyone was wearing the stylish
bug screens over their heads as the gnats were incomprehensibly thick on the island.

After three round trips of both Zodiacs all the material and supplies had been transferred to the island and lined up along the dock for distribution to its final point of use.It was great to be back home at the light station for another season.

On setting foot on the island the midge horde increased in intensity. While they do not bite, it wasn't long before the entire team was wearing these stylish head screens became the clothing of the day in order to be able to breathe without inhaling lung fulls of the pesky creatures

With our motivated twelve person team, it didn't take long for everything to be removed
from the dock and transported to its proper location , and we headed for the lighthouse
for lunch.

While on the island, we usually eat all of our meals "al fresco" on picnic benches by
the tower. However, the insect invasion forced us to take all our meals inside the
lighthouse this weekend in order to eliminate adding a liberal serving of midge dressing
to every meal. 

Back outside the lighthouse, we noticed that a huge volume of the midges were using
the tower to find shelter from the light breeze, creating the ugly black splotch seen
here on the right side of the tower.

After Lunch, we took the crew of the UGLY ANNE back out to their boat......

...and we watched them as they made their way back to the Mackinac Bridge and home
Our first order of business was to haul the new flag pole built by Bob Brunais to the top of
the tower to replace the pole destroyed by a storm last July with wind speeds of over 70
miles an hour. Here Terry Pepper secures the new pole to a line dropped from the top
of the tower.
Bob Brunais and Margaret Brown hauled the new pole to the gallery.....

... Secured the pole to the railing with sturdy stainless steel U-bolts .....
.... and Old Glory was once again proudly flying over the St. Helena Island light station