Even Mr. Brightside has a dark side

Mr. Brightside, photo by Aaron Springer

The Frankfort North Pier Head Light marks the entrance to Betsie Lake. It’s a popular fishing spot, but on Friday afternoon as UpNorthLive reports, a fisherman learned to pay a little more attention to his surroundings:

The Coast Guard says the man was fishing when the weather picked up. He then became stuck on the pier due to crashing waves over the break wall. The Coast Guard was notified by the Benzie County Central Dispatch around 9:25 p.m.

Coast Guard Station Frankfort then launched a 25-foot response boat, a small crew and a Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City MH-60 jayhawk helicopter crew. The response boat arrived on scene first and confirmed the man was on the wall. The boat could not help with the rescue due to the shallow water.

The Coast Guard says the MH-60 helicopter crew hovered over the lighthouse on the pier and lowered a rescue swimmer who then basket-hoisted the man to safety with no injuries before flying to Frankfort Dow Memorial Airport where local EMS were standing by.

Click through for more including a video of the man and the pier taken from the Coast Guard helicopter.

View the photo bigger and see more in Aaron’s slideshow.

More from the Frankfort Light on Michigan in Pictures.

Six Degrees from the White Shoal Lighthouse

White Shoal Lighthouse Aerial, photo by US Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

A reader shared a link to this photo with me, and this weekend I met a woman whose husband is a mechanic for the helicopter that took this photo. I thought that was pretty cool, but I also was putting groceries in my car at the local Meijer and a van pulled in a couple of slots down with a “White Shoal Light Historical Preservation Society” logo on it! I talked for a bit with Brent who’s heading up the group, and I expect to have updates and photos as they get going with their renovation!

I also noticed that the photo from back in 2009 I had of this light has been removed by the photographer, so here’s the skinny on one of Michigan’s most recognizablelight houses.  White Shoals are located 20 miles east of Mackinac Point and just northwest of Waugoshance Island. So shallow that they break the surface in places, they long presented a hazard to navigation for ships entering the Straits of Mackinac. On his White Shoal Lighthouse page, Terry Pepper relates that beginning in October of 1891, the Lightship LV56 anchored at White Shoal during the shipping season for 19 years. Finally in 1907 funds were appropriated for a permanent lighthouse:

Spring of 1908 saw work begin on the White Shoal light on two separate fronts. While a crew at the site leveled a one hundred and two-foot square area on the shoal through the addition and careful placement of loads of stone, a second crew worked on building a timber crib on shore at St. Ignace. Seventy-two feet square and eighteen and a half feet high, the huge crib contained 400,000 square feet of lumber, and on completion was slowly towed out to the shoal and centered over the leveled lake bottom. Once in location, the crib was filled with 4,000 tons of stone until it sank to a point at which its uppermost surface was level and two feet below the water’s surface.

On top of this crib, a seventy-foot square stone block base was constructed to a total height of four feet, with the remainder of the pier being of poured concrete atop the block base. With the base complete, an acetylene-powered lens lantern was installed atop a temporary steel skeletal tower on December 5th, and with the onset of winter storms, work at the shoal ended for the season.

Seeing the Light has much more about the construction and history of White Shoal Light including shots of the tower and crib under construction and information about lighthouse tours offered by Shepler’s Ferry, on which you can see White Shoal, Waugoshance and Gray’s Reef Lights.

Wikipedia’s entry for the White Shoal Light notes that White Shoal is the only aluminum-topped lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the only ‘barber pole’ lighthouse in the United States and is the lighthouse featured on Michigan’s Save Our Lights license plate. There’s also a link to really cool Google Map of lighthouses in northern Lake Michigan. There’s a few more pics of White Shoal at boatnerd.

View the photo bigger and follow the US Coast Guard Traverse City on Facebook for lots more cool photos from their missions!

More aerial photos & more lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.

Coast Guard Aviation Centennial

Coast Guard Centennial Helicopter 6517 Traverse City

Welcome home “Coast Guard 6517”, photo by US Coast Guard Traverse City

Air Station Traverse City officially kicked off the Coast Guard Aviation Centennial this week. They received 1 of only 8 MH-65D helicopters adorned in the centennial “throwback” paint scheme. 2016 is the 100th year celebration of Coast Guard Aviators.

You can see the chopper at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City along with the USAF Thunderbirds and read more on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Aviation Centennial page.

View the photo bigger on Facebook where you can click for a couple other views and be sure to follow the Traverse City Air Station – they really share some amazing shots from their work over the Great Lakes!!

Big Red, White Snow & Blue Ice

Big Red & Blue Ice

Reflections of a cold sunset, photo by Tony Reidsma

Here’s an incredible shot of Big Red aka the Holland Harbor Lighthouse. In his extensive article on the history of the Holland Harbor Light, Terry Pepper explains how the nickname came to be:

A Coast Guard crew arrived in Holland in 1956, and gave the combined fog signal building and lighthouse a fresh coat of bright red paint in order to conform to its “Red Right Return” standard, which called for all aids to navigation located on the right side of a harbor entrance to be red in coloration. Local residents thus began referring to the fifty year old structure as “Big Red,” a name which has stuck through the years. The Fourth Order lens was subsequently removed from the fog signal lantern in the late 1960’s, and replaced with a 250 mm Tidelands Signal acrylic optic.

With the fading of the Great Lakes passenger fleet, Holland Harbor had ceased to serve any real commercial traffic. With the station now serving only as a beacon to guide pleasure boats in and out of Lake Macatawa, the Coast Guard announced plans to abandon the old fog signal building to eliminate ongoing maintenance costs in 1972. Over the years, “Big Red” had become as much of an iconic symbol of tourist-centered Holland as tulips and windmills, and fearing the loss of their beloved landmark, the citizenry of Holland gathered together and circulated petitions in an attempt to save the historic structure. To this end, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Commission was formed in 1974 to coordinate preservation and restoration efforts, and continues to manage the structure to this day.

View Tony’s photo big as Big Red on Facebook and see and purchase some of his work at imagesforyourwalls.com.  If you’re in an icy mood, consider attending the opening of his Frozen In Time exhibition at the Holland Arts Council from March 5 – April 18, 2015. The opening reception is March 5th, starting at 6pm.

More winter wallpaper and more lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

Quiet Opening Day at the Soo Locks in 2014

Coast Guard cutters pass through Soo Locks

Coast Guard cutters pass through Soo Locks, photo by Coast Guard News

Although the Soo Locks opened yesterday, UpNorthLive reports that for the first time in 20 years no ships passed through. Click through for a video story that includes footage from the Locks and an interview with Soo Locks Lock Master Tom Soeltner.

About the photo, the Coast Guard News writes:

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw steers the cutter through the fog as it passed through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., March 21, 2014. The Mackinaw along with the Coast Guard Cutters Morro Bay and Katmai Bay passed through the locks together en route to breaking ice in the St. Marys River and Lake Superior in preparation of the scheduled opening of the Locks, March 25. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

View Levi’s photo background bigtacular and see more at the Coast Guard News’ Soo Locks tag.

There’s more boats and more Sault Ste. Marie, and if you’re interested in the Icebreaker Mackinac and other icebreakers, Michigan in Pictures has that too!

Icebreaking on the Great Lakes with USCG Bristol Bay

Shipping Lane

Shipping Lane, photo by rellet17

Winter 2014 has been a big challenge to keep up with for road crews and homeowners, and it’s a challenge that doesn’t end at the shoreline!

On Friday, Ross got a chance ride aboard the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Bristol Bay as it opened a path for shipping traffic on Lake Saint Clair. The captain told him the ice has only been this dense one other time in the past 30 years! The Coast Guard says:

The USCGC BRISTOL BAY is one of just two Bay-class cutters that work in conjunction with a special barge. BRISTOL BAY the second of the U.S. Coast Guard’s 140-foot icebreaking tugs. She is named after the body of water formed by the Alaskan peninsula which empties into the Bering Sea. BRISTOL BAY was built by the Tacoma Boatbuilding Co. in 1978. She was commissioned in Detroit in 1979.

Designed by U.S. Coast Guard engineers, the BRISTOL BAY’s primary responsibility is opening and maintaining icebound shipping lanes in the Great Lakes. Bay-class tugs are designed to continuously break at least 20 inches of hard, freshwater ice. The ships can break more than 3 feet of ice by backing and ramming. The Bay tugs have a special hull air lubrication system that helps extract the ship from thick ice and improves ice breaking ability at slower speeds.

View Ross’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his ice breaking slideshow.

PS: A few weeks ago I came across this video of more Great Lakes icebreaking action, showing the Icebreaker Mackinaw and others clearing a path from Sault Ste Marie down the St Marys River that you might enjoy. It was shot from the wheelhouse of the CSL Assiniboine.

There’s more ice and more winter wallpaper to be found on Michigan in Pictures!