Plans Sought for a Two-Door Boathouse

Boathouse at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse (1907 - 1928)
Boathouse at Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse (1907 – 1928)

Boathouse R (1989-157-001)

Does this type of boathouse look familiar? Josh Liller at Jupiter Inlet is looking for plans. None exist amongst the plans for Jupiter Inlet in the National Archives collection. We believe it was built to a standard plan and would have been constructed at other stations. If you know of light station where one was built, please contact Josh at or simply comment on this post.

Support Needed for Bill to Restore Maritime Heritage Funding

Submitted by Tim Runyan, Chair, National Maritime Alliance


Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the Storis Act on June 4, with co-sponsor Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). It is Senate Bill 1511 (S. 1511).  Storis (Ships to be Recycled in the States) Act was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (CST). The Act includes Section 4 (c) (C) that restores funding for the maritime heritage grants program.

Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) is expected to introduce the Storis Act in the House very soon.

However, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee just introduced its version of the Coast Guard Authorization Act that we hoped would include the Storis Act (S. 1511)–it did not. We must alert senators, and ask them to add the Storis Act to the Coast Guard bill; or support the Storis Act as a stand alone bill. CST has scheduled an executive committee meeting for Thursday, 25 June. We must act NOW!

I have attached a draft letter for you. Please email/mail your letters to your senators, and appropriate staff members. Write both of your senators–most will not be on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee (CST). I have attached a list of members.

You can write on behalf of your organization to a member of the CST Committee—I suggest Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) the Ranking member of CST; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Ranking member of the subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Merchant Marine, and Ranking member of the subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) are also on both of those subcommittees. Also, Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI); Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) On Oceans, Coast Guard subcommittee.                                                                             

If you know of maritime heritage organizations or initiatives in the state please mention them. Write your senators; and target CST Committee members.

I know writing takes some time. But we know that advocacy pays off–$7M.  $2.6M awarded in April, and the deadline for round two proposals ($1.7M), is August 3.

Please write before Thursday, later if you must.


Letter to Support Storis Act

Senate CST Committee 2015

Lighthouse death in France

Sometimes things go tragically wrong. They did Thursday at the Cap Ferret Lighthouse near Bordeaux, where a 12-year-old girl fell to her death.

She was not a casual visitor; Lilou Gaude was a member of her father’s acrobatic troupe, and she was performing while suspended from the tower on a rope. The accident occurred during filming for a French television show that features France’s most loved monuments. Details remain sketchy. The girl apparently died before ambulances reached the scene.

The Cap Ferret tower is listed as 53 meters tall. Lighthouse deaths are rare, but sad for all of us.

-mike vogel

Action alert: Maritime Heritage Program funding

OK, gang, please call your senators and representatives and let them know you would deeply appreciate their support of the STORIS () Act, which would restore funding for maritime preservation and education programs to the level Congress originally envisioned and thereby help the entire maritime heritage community.

The bill has been introduced, and it would help immensely if you could get support from your elected officials by letting them know that organizations in their states or districts could get some help and are anxious to see this pass for the benefit of the entire cause. The Senate bill number is S.1511, and it has been referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. We’ll pass along the House bill number when it’s assigned.

Below is a copy of the sponsor’s press release, forwarded by Tim Runyan of the National Maritime Alliance. It includes Louisiana-specific language because of the sponsors, but you can mine it for information on the act. A call, email or letter to your home-state folks would help. Mine’s already on the way.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today introduced the Ships to Be Recycled in the States (STORIS) Act, legislation to reform the domestic marine recycling industry. Their legislation would improve the domestic ship recycling industry and promote transparency by requiring reports from Maritime Administration (MARAD) and an audit by the Government Accountability Office. Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.) is introducing the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Maritime Administration receives millions of dollars in federal funding, but they’ve never reported how the sales money is spent or how the agency awards contracts,” Vitter said. “Ship recycling is an important part of our domestic maritime industry, and these reforms would improve federal contracting, cut government waste, and help create jobs in Louisiana.”

“Louisiana directly benefits from the Maritime Administration—hundreds work in ship recycling facilities and many state museums receive maritime grants,” said Cassidy. “There have been concerns that the agency receives millions in federal funding but lacks transparency. The STORIS Act will strengthen oversight over the agency and help create more jobs for Louisiana workers.”

“Americans expect the federal government to operate in their best interest,” said Graves. “We have found multiple instances where the U.S. Maritime Administration has failed to maximize the return on investment on the sale of retired federal vessels by not accepting the highest bid on a number of contracts and not fulfilling its obligation to reinvest these funds in our merchant mariner workforce. This bill will prevent MARAD from leaving millions of dollars on the table in regard to ship recycling contracts and require that we have the workforce we need to increase global trade and exports from Louisiana.”

Current law requires all excess government vessels to be sold to domestic marine recyclers to be dismantled. A portion of funding from the sales goes toward the Vessel Operations Revolving Fund, federal and state maritime academies, and the maritime heritage grant program. The STORIS Act would make sure that the required funding goes to federal and state maritime academies and to heritage grants funding to the Department of Interior. It would also require MARAD to issue an annual report on how its money is spent and publicize its ship recycling agreements.

Additionally, the STORIS Act creates jobs by ensuring that all vessels can be dismantled in the United States in compliance with U.S. environmental and safety laws, and are not exported where those safety rules do not apply.

The STORIS Act is named in recognition of the former Coast Guard Cutter STORIS, which was dismantled in Mexico in 2013 in violation of the current law.

-Mike Vogel

Action alert

The STORIS Act has been reintroduced in Congress. This is the one that would restore full funding to the Maritime Heritage Grants Program and make the Maritime Administration more accountable for the way it handles ship-scrapping proceeds. More details to follow, as soon as our champion Tim Runyan gets bill numbers, but it will be very important for all of us to contact our senators and representatives and ask them to support this measure!

-Mike Vogel

Lighthouses that must be saved

Hi, all. I’ve been thinking. That’s always dangerous, but here at ALC HQ in the Dire Straits Lighthouse the nights are long and since we can’t afford to fuel the lamps there’s not that much to do. Days aren’t much better, as you can only grill so many seaweed patties. Even in summer.

Anyway, Tim Harrison and I had been carrying on a conversation about the level of lighthouse group support of the Maine Lighthouse Museum in its current struggles, and the latest edition of Sea History arrived with a discussion of historic ships that must be saved. You can probably figure where this is going. But the ship version started when my friend Capt. Walter Rybka, who commands the US Brig Niagara just down the lake from my other lighthouses in Buffalo, wrote an article about just which historic ships absolutely must be saved. He considered 24 candidates, and he struck a nerve. Author and expert Norman Brouwer added 50 more, and when the Council of American Maritime Museums met in Los Angeles this April CAMM president John Brady convened a panel on ranking those ships (Candy, were you paying attention?).

Anyway, they wound up not doing a list (there was fear that identifying the most important would hamper fundraising by “lesser” ships) but did present their deliberations and felt that some ships might well seek UNESCO World Heritage Site designation (wanna bet USS Constitution and Charles W. Morgan might be candidates?) And all this made me think — what lighthouses would we list as American must-saves, if we were to make such a list?

There might be reason to do that. Saving our most iconic lighthouses benefits all of us, because they’re the ones that are embedded in the public consciousness as well as in our history, and by embodying the concept of lighthouses they make it easier for all of us to raise money and do our own preservation jobs. But that said, I’d have to think more about publicizing a list; for now, it’s a mental exercise.

Here’s what the ship guys considered: Should a list be made? Would that hamper efforts to restore non-“top ten” ships? Is national importance more vital than regional importance? Does the amount of original fabric matter (that’s especially relevant to guys wrestling with the “Theseus’s Ship” problem — look it up!)? Should CAMM create a list or should project managers apply? What weight should be put on educational value? How much weight on its place in history? And for lighthouses, where we’re not that concerned about original fabric (OK, the question is, if the ancients preserved the ship of Theseus through centuries by replacing every plank as it rotted until there was nothing original left but the shape, is it still the ship of Theseus?) then do we perhaps need to consider scenic beauty and the amount of restoration already beautifully done? And does geographic distribution matter?

Told you it was exercise.

Anyway, I did my pondering. The lighthouse that immediately sprang to mind was Cape Hatteras, followed closely by that mainstay of lighthouse calendars, Portland Head. Are there any more iconic/symbolic lighthouses than those (and I know, but nobody but us wonks considers the Statue of Liberty a lighthouse)?

But then history creeps in — Boston, Sandy Hook, Minot’s Ledge? How about (and this probably is only me) Buffalo, where the Erie Canal met the Great Lakes and the great river of immigration spilled westward? Or the first West Coast lights, or the Florida Keys? Split Rock is right up there in calendar popularity, but there are also some minor lighthouses embedded in the general public consciousness — places like the much-painted Marshall Point, or Jeffrey’s Hook (the little red lighthouse under the great grey bridge). By now my head is starting to hurt, and I realize the top-ten list I come up with tomorrow is likely to be different than the one I come up with today.

Dang. Maybe here at Dire Straits, we’ve just been straining the mercury through the cheesecloth a little too long. I do worry about the “unintended negative consequences” of a list, as Sea History put it. But I can’t just leave without giving you today’s version of my list, can I?

So here it is — my first crack at Ten American Lighthouses That Must Outlive Us All:

1. Cape Hatteras; 2. Portland Head; 3. Boston; 4. Sandy Hook; 5. Split Rock; 6. Ponce de Leon; 7. Makapu’u; 8. Point Reyes; 9. Montauk; 10. St. Augustine. And, of course, Dire Straits.

It’s really hard to stop at 10 — try it. I’m thinking tomorrow Pigeon Point might replace Point Reyes, or Cape Henry or Grosse Point might sneak in there somewhere. Or Owls Head, or Thomas Point Shoal, or The Nubble, or …  Thank goodness my opinions don’t really matter!

But, hey, what’s on your list?

-mike vogel

Money, good and bad

Just a few updates from ALC headquarters at the Dire Straits Lighthouse:

Grants — The 2016 season already is open. As we’ve already noted, applications are being accepted now through August 3 for the national Maritime Heritage Grants Program, through the National Parks Service site. You’ll recall that this is a multi-year program funded by the proceeds of scrapping mothball fleet ships, and that there’s still a Capitol Hill struggle for the maritime preservation community to restore full funding as originally envisaged by Congress. This year’s grant awards included a couple for lighthouse-related projects, so there’s hope.

The grants are matching ones and arrive as reimbursements, but if you want to apply you can try for amounts between $50,000 and $200,000 for preservation projects and $15,000 to $50,000 for education projects. The total pool is $1.7 million.

Meanwhile, the fledgling United States Lighthouse Society grants program winnowed down more than two dozen worthwhile applications for this year’s funding to five finalists, with detailed applications due June 15 and awards to be announced in August. The funding comes from the interest on a Preservation Fund the USLHS is still trying to grow to much more substantial grant-producing levels.

Crunch time — Trouble lingers at the financially-beleaguered Maine Lighthouse Museum. There’s a meeting June 9 with the Coast Guard, which has told the museum it wants to recall its loan of some 700 artifacts gathered largely by the late Ken Black. Meanwhile, the Rockland City Council has denied for now a city manager’s suggestion that it help bail out the museum.

See Tim Harrison’s comments below offering a hopeful update. Maine media is reporting that the museum owes a bank about $512,000 on its mortgage and the bank is moving toward foreclosure, but Tim says that’s not so. The waterfront building it shares with other groups also is a problem, as its upkeep is the responsibility of a condominium association that now is broke because the museum is $148,000 behind on its share of that responsibility. The city council wants to wait to see what the Coast Guard says (it’s estimated that the cost of actually returning the artifacts is about $100,000), and the city manager wanted to have some guidance in his talks with the Coast Guard. So that looks like a stalemate, and this can’t be an easy job for CG curator Arlyn Danielson. The museum has been trying for a corporate-donation bailout, but no word on that.