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

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