RJ Kikuchiyo Begins Lighthouse Discussion Series
He should; for thousands of years those monuments were the vigilant beacons that lit the way, guiding sailors across treacherous seas… and returning them home safe again.
However, with the advent of new electronic positioning systems many think there’s less need for coastal lighthouses. In fact, there’s a chance that major elements of our sailing legacy could soon fade into antiquity.
Well I don’t know about you, but personally I can’t imagine replacing the ATON global waterway system with an “i-phone ap.” I wrote about this issue two years ago, and feel more strongly about it today:
“…navigational aids are part of our history, art, culture and experience. It’s how we plied the oceans and made sense of the world around us.
Maybe its how some of us make personal sense too. Years ago when I was an ”Opti kid” I’d go on overnight cruises with family and friends. In the middle of the night, those choppy waves and shifting gusts can prove pretty scary, particularly if you’re a kid with a type-A personality, spending much of the transit questioning your parents’ navigational expertise.
I’d sit there unblinking, gaze solemnly fixed on the blackness ahead, trying to convince myself the horizon was indeed still out there. In reality, I was waiting until I could see a distant light, a fixed beacon I had memorized. It made no difference what any of the instruments showed. Numbers can lie. Show me the real thing. When that light appeared way off in the distance, a pinpoint in a sea and sky of black, I knew I had my bearings, and I cajoled the adults to give me the helm.
I had my lit beacon; I knew where I was, and where I was going. I could use that beacon, and I could bring everyone home….”
This week RJ Kikuchiyo began a discussion series that explains this all much better than I ever could.
The discussions are hosted by Sailor’s Cove, and the series is called Lights n’ Legends; I understand each of the meetings will focus on the history of a particular lighthouse that’s recreated in SL.
Mega-woots go to Fanci Beebe for helping organize the event, and to The Three C’s (Kitten, Chaos, and Cate) who coordinated a special Leeward Cruise that made landfall in Sailors Cove just as the discussion started. 🙂
I admit the sailing conditions were not-so-great on Tuesday, but a sizable crowd showed up on the Sailors Cove Theatre dock nonetheless. The discussion that ensued was funny, factual, and frankly… rather fantastic. 🙂
Race Rock Light
RJ decided to kick off the series on Tuesday with a discussion of Race Rock Light. In RL, it sits at the entrance to Long Island Sound along USA’s Northeast coast. In SL, Race Rock Light was one of Patrick Leavitt’s first additions as he methodically built Sailors Cove Estate.
On Tuesday, RJ Kikuchiyo told the history of the real Race Rock lighthouse; it made it pretty obvious why it belonged in Sailors Cove too. 🙂
Here’s an excerpt from the notecard you can get at SL’s Race Rock Light:
Race Rock Lighthouse – located in New England in the USA in RL
Race Rock, located at the west end of Fishers Island and the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound, was considered “one of the most dangerous obstructions to navigation on the coast”.
Rising from a depth of seventy or more feet of water, several small spurs of rock broke the water’s surface, while a large rock formation was covered with only three feet of water at low tide. During the early 1800’s, there was hardly a summer month that a vessel did not strike the rock reef with sometimes disastrous results.
The Gothic Revival styled Race Rock Lighthouse marks a most dangerous location with perhaps hundreds of shipwrecks to its dubious credit, including the steamer “Atlantic” in which 45 people perished in November 1846. Its’ completion in 1878 marked the end of masonry lighthouses on wave swept or water-bound sites. Most of all, it is a fitting monument to its courageous engineers, Francis Hopkinson Smith and Captain Thomas Albertson Scott. The construction on the “Boulder” (really a ledge that is 3 to 13 feet below water) required 7 years, thousands of tons of riprap, numerous acts of courage and amazing persistence. Smith also built the government seawall at Governors Island, NY and the foundation for the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.
First lighted: January 1, 1879
First keeper: Neil Martin, appointed December 16, 1878
Light: (1878) fourth order Fresnel lens,
flashing red and white, 10 seconds
Light: (1939) fourth order Fresnel lens, Incandescent oil vapor, white 18,000 cp, red 16,000 cp, 20 seconds
Light: (1978) 300mm lens, 1000 watt lamp,
flashing red, 10 seconds
Fog signal: (1883) fog bell by machine,
double blow, 20 seconds
Fog signal: (1897) second class siren
Fog signal: (1907) third class Daboll trumpet,
3 second blast, emergency fog bell
Fog signal: (1939) first class siren,
group 2 blast, 30 seconds
Height of light above sea level: (1891)
Lights n’ Legends Transcript June 21 2011
Here’s the edited transcript from Tuesday’s discussion:
[14:05] RJ Kikuchiyo: The Race is a spot on the border between the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island sound
[14:06] RJ Kikuchiyo: It is called the race, because it has a reputation for fast currents that feed a twice daily maelstrom. If you do not make it into the race at the right time, the current will take you into the hazards.
[14:07] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock was a notorious place, and responsible for many lost lives. It earned a reputation as the ‘graveyard of ships’ on Long Island Sound.
[14:09] RJ Kikuchiyo: btw if you have any questions feel free to holler out
[14:10] RJ Kikuchiyo: The Race Rock Light has many heroes
[14:10] RJ Kikuchiyo: The earliest memories I have of the Race is the roller-coaster style trip every boat has; entering the race at the wrong time can spell disaster.
[14:10] Jane Fossett: RJ, why was Long Island Sound important?
[14:11] RJ Kikuchiyo: the flow of tides from the sound into the atlantic and back twice daily causing a siphon action where the water practically boils.
[14:12] RJ Kikuchiyo: Jane, the Sound is the protected water on the South Coast of New England.
[14:12] RJ Kikuchiyo: Many port towns and harbors are located there, giving access to the merchants and goods available from the industrialized New England of the 19th Century.
[14:16] RJ Kikuchiyo: The race took many ships, and it took 40 years from that point to result in what we see today.
[14:17] Cate Foulsbane: you would think somebody would have seen to it that it got built faster.
[14:17] Jane Fossett: Republicans blocked it in Congress.
[14:17] Cate Foulsbane: hmm
[14:17] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): considering they had to build it in the water
[14:17] Liv Leigh: 40 years souds like a lot of time for what looks on photo to be quite a moderate-sized, even cute, building
[14:18] RJ Kikuchiyo: ok just handed out a notecard
[14:18] Cate Foulsbane: Lincoln was a republican back then
[14:18] joro Aya: They should just have put a banline around it
[14:18] RJ Kikuchiyo: haha
[14:18] RJ Kikuchiyo: I have been to the race a few times, and there are others who can attest. >.>
[14:18] Boomer Waverider: Foundation was the hard part, I think.
[14:19] RJ Kikuchiyo: The race churns four times a day in two directions.
[14:19] Cate Foulsbane: Two times a day per direction?
[14:19] RJ Kikuchiyo: the locals found names for each of the rocks.
[14:20] RJ Kikuchiyo: Names like ‘Cerberus,’ after the three-headed dog of Hades were given to describe the character of the rocks to the sea (in the case of Cerberus, a scattering of close-to-surface rocks which foamed at the tides’ rush)
[14:21] RJ Kikuchiyo: Long Island Sound was given a name by Adrian Block, the Dutch sailor: ‘The Devil’s Belt.’
[14:22] RJ Kikuchiyo: The devil had a lot of landmarks in the sound named after him. I guess the wind and current ‘bedeviled’ the earliest explorers – much like coming here today!
[14:24] RJ Kikuchiyo: The devil? the race? All this needed something done. the race was claiming lives and cargoes every season.
[14:27] RJ Kikuchiyo: The US Congress dedicated some funds, but it was soon clear that there was not a chance to raise that light without some effort.
[14:28] RJ Kikuchiyo takes a brief pause to sip gently the apple cider steaming on the sideboard
[14:28] Emily (emillie.placebo): RJ, were there no private donations? Sailor’s or marine/seamanship organisations that could raise funds?
[14:28] Cate Foulsbane: yeah!
[14:29] Emily (emillie.placebo): What I am hearing reminds me of many parallels with the Bell Rock lighthouse’s construction
[14:29] RJ Kikuchiyo: Great question Emily! its true the merchants in the area wanted to improve the access so lots of private organizations funded markers.
[14:29] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): adds a hit of whiskey to the cider for rj while hes not looking ㋡
[14:29] Lily Afterthought (revlilith.wizardly): bad bunny
[14:30] RJ Kikuchiyo: its already hard Bunny! My hurricane lamp runs on rum; now you have twice the burning power.
[14:30] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): giggles
[14:30] ChippyAnn Kamm: Many places have assoc. raising monies.
[14:30] RJ Kikuchiyo: It took over 7 years to built that foundation for Race Rock and 4 months to finish with the formal Victorian lighthouse on top of the rock.
[14:30] Liv Leigh: I just read on a link that the Race Rock lighthouse is deemed obsolete by the coast guard as of June 2011 and may be up for auction?
[14:30] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): oh wow
[14:31] joro Aya: Let’s buy it 🙂
[14:32] Jane Fossett: Patrick already did, Joro 🙂
[14:32] RJ Kikuchiyo: In the years before the lighthouse was finished, many storms ripped apart the efforts made to mark safe passage around the rock. Lives were still lost and the desire to get that passage safer burned in the community.
[14:33] Emily (emillie.placebo): did any one incident serve as the straw that broke the camel’s back?
[14:33] Cate Foulsbane: Committees to oversee the formation of committees?
[14:33] kittensusie Landar: Well, there was that accident with the camel
[14:33] Emily (emillie.placebo): the Bell Rock’s funding wasn’t granted in Parliament until the HMS York sunk in 1804 after striking the bell rocks.
[14:33] RJ Kikuchiyo: Many times, work was completed only to have nature’s fury rip it down.
[14:33] Jane Fossett: camels don’t sail
[14:34] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): but they have humps
[14:34] kittensusie Landar: that’s why the accident happened, no-one told the camel that
[14:34] joro Aya: Camels DO sail. they are not called the ships of the desert for no reason
[14:34] kittensusie Landar whispers: never seen a camel with a sail
[14:34] Emily (emillie.placebo): So was it a collective accumulation of incidents that lead to race rock’s commissioning or was it one notable public incident?
[14:34] RJ Kikuchiyo: Reading the timeline, you can see the foundation built was destroyed again and again.
[14:35] RJ Kikuchiyo: I would be remiss if I did not mention the heroes of the light
[14:35] Emily (emillie.placebo): any records of how many times the foundations were re-laid?
[14:35] Jane Fossett: lets keep it clean, Emily
[14:36] kittensusie Landar *giggles
[14:36] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): omg.. jane.. laffin
[14:36] Emily (emillie.placebo): clean?
[14:36] Jane Fossett: 🙂
[14:36] Lily Afterthought (revlilith.wizardly): tx for the drink.. but goodnight everybody…
[14:36] Emily (emillie.placebo): *is confused*
[14:36] JakeSpeed Northman: historically there were camels brought to North America
[14:36] Liv Leigh: well she s the only one asking questions that do not involve camel’s humps?
[14:36] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): night Lily
[14:36] JakeSpeed Northman: bt they died out
[14:36] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): bye sis
[14:36] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): sleep well
[14:36] Chat Range: Vickie Maidstone [14m]
[14:36] Jane Fossett: <–thinks RJ has the floor
[14:36] kittensusie Landar: nite Lily
[14:37] RJ Kikuchiyo: Francis Hopkinson Smith and Captain Thomas Albertson Scott are the two folks that books have been written about. It’s worth reading up on, the dedication these and their peers had toward making this light a reality after years of adversity.
[14:38] RJ Kikuchiyo: The final cost after 8 years of construction was $278,716.00 – a lot in 1878
[14:38] Cate Foulsbane whispers: yikes!
[14:38] Jane Fossett: was that in Lindens?
[14:39] Emily (emillie.placebo): Laughs so much for keeping it clean…
[14:39] RJ Kikuchiyo: That’s millions of dollars in today’s exchange
[14:39] joro Aya: Is still a lot. there are days that i don’t spend that much
[14:39] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): i spoke the truth they do have humps and i have no idea what yall are talking about.
[14:40] Emily (emillie.placebo): RJ, question?
[14:40] RJ Kikuchiyo: The current lighthouse at Race Rock is not much different from the day it was automated in 1978, a 100-year run for the sage old stone house on the water.
[14:40] RJ Kikuchiyo: sure Emily?
[14:40] RJ Kikuchiyo: he was the lead engineer
[14:41] Emily (emillie.placebo): do we know if the design was based on any earlier designs? or influenced by?
[14:41] Liv Leigh: just found a link about an america’s cup match: charlie barr on columbia beating ‘constitution’ around race rock
[14:41] kittensusie Landar: the Eddystone lighthouse
[14:41] RJ Kikuchiyo: there was a follow-up lighthouse (built at the same time) called Middle Shoals.
[14:41] Sun Seale: is that the one thats haunted ?
[14:42] RJ Kikuchiyo: it has a lot in common with Race Rock, from its riprap and round stone coursework, and the formal stone house on top.
[14:42] Emily (emillie.placebo): i see
[14:42] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock has reports of being haunted for sure. Many of the ghosts from the wrecks from before history.
[14:42] kittensusie Landar: i wanna go there 😀
[14:42] Sun Seale: I’m trying to remember, there re a few of them.
[14:43] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock endures today as a symbol of the heyday of lighthouse-building, and holds a record for being one the most expensive lighthouses built by the US Lighthouse Establishment.
[14:44] kittensusie Landar: The Eddystone lighthouse was built on a rock like Race Rock, but in the 17th century……..
[14:44] Emily (emillie.placebo): Seems like one of the ones that took longest to build too!
[14:44] Sun Seale: Was that the one they moved ?
[14:44] Emily (emillie.placebo): Bell Rock was constructed in 3 years 1807 to 1810
[14:44] Sun Seale: They had to drag it inland like 2 miles or something to keep it from being destroyed.
[14:44] RJ Kikuchiyo: Soon after completion, the Light House Establishment started making lighthouses out of iron. The techniques developed for the placement of the crib and foundation influenced the lighthouses built for generations to follow.
[14:45] kittensusie Landar whispers: You mean Eddystone Sun? no, it’s still there on the rock but rebuilt a few times.
[14:46] RJ Kikuchiyo: As a testament to its builders, the house has stood for 240 years on that treacherous spot guiding visitors past the dangers that had claimed so many before
[14:47] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): goodness
[14:47] RJ Kikuchiyo: The RL house is in disrepair today, and the property has been put on the list of excess property by the US Government.
[14:47] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): so Race Rock is the oldest or one of the oldest??
[14:47] Emily (emillie.placebo): That’s a shame.
[14:48] ChippyAnn Kamm: ‘one of’
[14:48] Emily (emillie.placebo): no it doesn’t sound like the oldest, if you take date of completion as the criteria i think.
[14:48] Cate Foulsbane: hmmm
[14:48] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): ah I see
[14:48] Emily (emillie.placebo): Not really one of the oldest either…
[14:48] RJ Kikuchiyo: Its actually one of the newest stone lighthouses built in the Northeast..
[14:48] kittensusie Landar: Eddystone is over 100 years older
[14:48] Jane Fossett: RJ… it should be a national treasure.
[14:48] Emily (emillie.placebo): Yes. Eddystone and Bell Rock are much older
[14:48] Sun Seale: Excess. You mean it will go up for sale ?
[14:48] Cate Foulsbane: Yes it should, Jane.
[14:48] Liv Leigh: Let me find that link back.
[14:49] RJ Kikuchiyo: Yes Sun, the Light will be auctioned as so many of our lighthouses have, to a new private owner.
[14:49] Cate Foulsbane: Let’s see who will buy it and keep it safe…. Rush Limbaugh?
[14:49] RJ Kikuchiyo: Truly Race Rock light has its place in the hearts and minds of those who ply the waters near her.
[14:49] joro Aya: i think there are some lighthouses in Greece and Italy that are slightly older. Like… say… 2000 years
[14:50] Emily (emillie.placebo): i think joro is right about that.
[14:50] Cate Foulsbane: Good point.
[14:50] kittensusie Landar: Older than that
[14:50] Cate Foulsbane: However, are they still functioning?
[14:50] RJ Kikuchiyo: It is a stable point of reference in a place which has still a reputation for the most terrible currents
[14:50] Emily (emillie.placebo): Its probably…. 3000 years or more
[14:50] Jane Fossett: Alexandria Light was one of the Great Wonders of the Ancient World.
[14:50] RJ Kikuchiyo: At this time, Race Rock is still an active aid to navigation
[14:50] Emily (emillie.placebo): Cate: More a matter of, are they surviving, nevermind functioning.
[14:51] kittensusie Landar: even with satnav?
[14:51] Liv Leigh:
“In June of 2011, Orient Point Lighthouse was declared excess to the needs of the United States Coast Guard and made available to eligible organizations under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000.
Qualified entities were given sixty days to submit a letter of interest and were required to obtain an agreement from the State of New York to occupy the submerged lands on which the lighthouse stands. If no suitable steward is found, the lighthouse will be sold at auction.” http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=741
[14:51] Liv Leigh: why does it say Orient?
[14:51] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock and Orient Point are within sight of each other, at opposite ends of the race. Orient Point is the southwestern point of the race, or the northeastern tip of Long Island. Race Rock is the southwestern tip of Fisher’s Island.
[14:52] Liv Leigh: Okay so that one is up for sale.
[14:52] Cate Foulsbane: Ok, Race Rock is still functioning…it’s just that gov’t subsidy is over.
[14:52] Jane Fossett: Fishers Island lies East of Race Light in RL; it’s important it’s here in SL.
[14:52] RJ Kikuchiyo: it is still maintained
[14:52] Liv Leigh: Well if it is supposed to function.. they d better do 😛
[14:53] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): What a lovely lighthouse; now i know what y’all are talking about ㋡
[14:53] Sun Seale: Now, most of these light houses are no longer working right?
[14:53] RJ Kikuchiyo: Race Rock is in proximity to New London and Mystic, two huge seagoing communities on the South Coast of Connecticut.
[14:53] Liv Leigh: hehe bunny.. visit in the Race Rock sim
[14:53] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): ㋡
[14:54] RJ Kikuchiyo: Sun, every one of the lighthouses in today’s talk are active aids
[14:54] Sun Seale: Explain “active aids” see I live on the west coast.
[14:54] Sun Seale: <– California
[14:54] Cate Foulsbane: sigh
[14:54] RJ Kikuchiyo: They are considered ‘excess’ by our government who see the GPS and satnav as a replacement.
[14:54] Sun Seale: ah
[14:54] Cate Foulsbane: Aids To Navigation
[14:54] RJ Kikuchiyo: yes not AIDS lmao
[14:55] Sun Seale: is that a joke at my expense ?
[14:55] Fortnight Baxton: Simply put, GPS is easier to track. That’s what they want.
[14:55] RJ Kikuchiyo: Aids to Navigation (ATON) are maintained, even on private property, by the US Coast Guard.
[14:55] joro Aya: Californians always have trouble with the word “active” 🙂
[14:55] Cate Foulsbane whispers: and on a bad day for sun spots, we can just have ship wrecks?
[14:55] kittensusie Landar: no, you don’t have to pay for it Sun 🙂
[14:55] Cate Foulsbane: sigh
[14:55] Sun Seale: oh really ?
[14:55] Jane Fossett: Pilgrims coming to America in 1620 landed in Maqssachuseets because the waters South were too trecherous… The history of America was defined by the coastline and sailing ships.
[14:56] ChippyAnn Kamm: Sun… I listen to Portland Head Light every rainy, foggy day… so it works.
[14:56] RJ Kikuchiyo: So we are running out of time for today
[14:56] ChippyAnn Kamm: Construction began in 1787 at the directive of George Washington, and was completed on January 10, 1791.
[14:56] Chat Range: Bunnie Mills [14m]
[14:56] Cate Foulsbane: thank you, RJ..and forgive the rowdiness of the children
[14:56] RJ Kikuchiyo: next time we will talk about the wonderful Fastnet Rock Light
[14:56] Jane Fossett: Woo!
[14:56] Emily (emillie.placebo): thank you RJ. very imformative =)
[14:57] Vickie A. Maidstone (vickie.maidstone): thank you RJ
[14:57] Bunnie Mills: *clap clap clap*
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: it is also a way out place with wicked weather.
[14:57] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): hands out lollypops
[14:57] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): clap
[14:57] kittensusie Landar: yes, thank you RJ 🙂
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: thank you all for coming!
[14:57] Jane Fossett: RJ Thank you for keeping maritime history alive in SL.
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: hope to have voice next time
[14:57] Bunnie Mills: thanks RJ !
[14:57] laiqua Kipslaiqua KipsWOOT
[14:57] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): waves t rj
[14:57] RJ Kikuchiyo: you guys are great! keep the light on will ya!
[14:57] Cate Foulsbane: Sun, there are lighthouses in CA, aren’t there?
[14:57] kittensusie Landar: RJ, any chance of a talk about Eddystone? since that one influenced all modern lighthouse designs……
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): oh yes. Eddystone would be a great topic
[14:58] Liv Leigh: Applause!!
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: Kitten it influenced a song – I want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): My father was the keeper of the Eddystone light
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: lol
[14:58] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): thank you
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): And he slept with a mermaid one fine night
[14:58] Jane Fossett: <–mega-woots to Fanci and Kitten for coordinating this event too!
[14:58] Bunny Northman (bunny.mesmeriser): cool emily
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): Out of this union there came three
[14:58] Emily (emillie.placebo): A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me!
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: YAY! (yay!)
[14:58] RJ Kikuchiyo: Emily!~ XD
[14:59] kittensusie Landar: lol Emily 🙂
[14:59] Liv Leigh: ty RJ 🙂
[14:59] Emily (emillie.placebo): thats the shanty Eddystone Rock inspired
[14:59] Jane Fossett: Let’s invite Caledon to the next one!
[15:00] Dunan Hax-Wilder (dunan.wilder): I’m sure they’d love that 🙂
[15:00] RJ Kikuchiyo: oh! just FYI the new Lighthouse Board HQ will be live in Caledon Mayfair
[15:00] Jane Fossett: WOOOOOT!!!!
[15:00] RJ Kikuchiyo: And future events will be posted on the SC website
[15:00] RJ Kikuchiyo: also my blog http://renecote.com/kiku
[15:01] kittensusie Landar: if they’re at the same time as today, we can do more special LCC cruises to coincide.
[15:01] Jane Fossett shouts: Thank you RJ!
[15:01] Fanci Beebe-Leavitt (fanci.beebe): Thank you RJ
[15:01] RJ Kikuchiyo: come again and we will have live voice!