Cruise to 32 Lighthouses including the Skillagalee Island Light!

Ile aux Galets, courtesy Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light

I just learned about a super-cool cruise for lighthouse lovers that also benefits the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. mLive reports:

There are 80 spots available for the trip which takes place in the northern part of Lake Michigan June 5-9. It is presented by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, which oversees the care of two lighthouses in the region. Guests travel aboard the Shepler’s Ferry vessel HOPE and stay at different resorts along the way, including Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites in Charlevoix and Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay, Wisc.

“It’s an awesome thing to do,” said Terry Pepper, executive director. “Lighthouses were built for the mariners so by going out to see them the way they were designed for from the water is unique.”

Click above for more and make reservations at gllka.com. Speaking of Terry Pepper, let’s add another Michigan lighthouse! Via Terry’s excellent Seeing the Light website here’s the Skillagalee Island Light Station:

Skillagalee Island is located some 7.7 miles Southwest of Waugoshance Island on the East side of the approach to the Gray’s Reef Passage. The tiny island represents but a small exposed portion of a large gravel shoal that extends 1.8 miles to its East and a half a mile to the Northwest.

Being very low in elevation, the island is barely visible except from close by, and to exacerbate the problem, the size of its exposed surface fluctuates dramatically with the level of the surrounding water. The island was considered a navigational hazard during the earliest days when the French Voyageurs took the time to name the place “Ile aux Galets,” which translates as “Island of Pebbles.”

A is so often the case, the English speaking mariners and settlers found the French name difficult to pronounce, and “Ile aux Galets” soon unofficially mutated into “Skillagalee.” The anglicized version took hold, and by the mid 1800’s references to the original French name all but disappeared.

While Skillagalee laid claim to many wrecks over the years, the grounding of the A.D. PATCHIN was seminal in the call for the construction of an aid to navigation on the island. The PATCHIN was a 226 foot wood-hulled sidewheel steamer built in Trenton Michigan in 1846. Laden with general merchandise, she was making her way into Grays Reef Passage on September 27, 1850, when the currents pulled her out of line and onto shore at Skillagalee. While her crew managed to escape to safety and the initial damage to her hull was minimal, the weather turned evil and thwarted a number of attempts to pull her free. By late November she had been pounded to pieces, becoming yet another of Lake Michigan’s many victims.

To answer the need for a navigational aid to warn mariners of the shoal’s existence, Congress appropriated the necessary funds to construct a light on Skillagalee Island in 1851. As a result of the exposed location and fluctuating water tables, the tower was in constant need of repair, a cycle that would be repeated throughout the station’s history.

Read on for more and check ou tSeeing the Light for more Great Lakes Lighthouses!

A Tale of Two Sunsets

Here’s two photos from the Absolute Michigan pool taken from the same spot in Grand Haven on the same evening by two photographers that I recently featured on Michigan in Pictures! I just love coincidences, don’t you?

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Driftwood And Reflected Pastels Of Afterglow, photo by David Behrens

View David’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow (where you’ll see the photo of the Grand Haven Fog Signal I featured the other day). Then when you’re done with that, check out Jerry James’ photo bigger and see more in his slideshow (where you’ll see the “Alley Adventures” from a little while back).

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Drifting, photo by Jerry James

At home in the fog

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Fog, Afterglow, and Persistence!, photo by David Behrens

David says that the fog signal at Grand Haven wasn’t visible from the shore the other night, so he went out to it. View the photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

PS: Here’s a shot of the fog signal covered in ice that I featured from David on Michigan in Pictures last February. Quite a change!

The Jaws of Point Betsie

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The Jaws of Point Betsie, photo by Kristina Lishawa Photography

Sweet shot of Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse, the Point Betsie Light just north of Frankfort. Kristina writes:

Ordinarily, someone trying to take a photo from this angle would be pounded mercilessly into the break wall by crashing waves. Lake Michigan granted me an unusually calm window in which to see Point Betsie from a new perspective.

View the photo bigger, follow Kristina Lishawa Photography on Facebook, and view and purchase prints on her website at kristinalishawa.com.

Hard Luck Lights: Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse

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Grand Island Lighthouse, photo by Steve Nowakowski

Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light shares the story of one of Michigan’s hard-luck lighthouses, the Grand Island East Channel LightWork began in 1867 with the the clearing of a sandy peninsula on the southeast shore of the island:

As a result of the chosen site being both on low ground and close to the water’s edge, a considerable amount of cribbing was installed along the shore line to help stave-off erosion and undermining of the station’s foundation. Plans for the station building called-out a typical “schoolhouse” style combination dwelling and tower similar to that used frequently throughout the lakes. However, in order to minimize cost the building was to be of timber frame construction with wood siding, as opposed to the more common brick or stone materials used in such structures elsewhere. Painted white to increase its value as a daymark, the 1 ½ story dwelling incorporated a forty-five foot tower its southern end, and was outfitted with an oil-fired steamer lens with a focal plane of 49 feet.

…The combination of a wooden structure in such an exposed location, and its location on the low sandy area close to the water’s edge created an ongoing maintenance nightmare for the district engineers, with the station listed as one at which considerable repairs were taken every year for the following thirty years.

…Without any care throughout the years, the structure deteriorated rapidly. Without regular scraping and repainting, the once bright white structure had turned a dismal driftwood gray, and the cribs installed a hundred years previously had disintegrated completely, with the waters of Munising Bay lapping directly at the stones of the structure’s foundation.

Read on for much more including efforts that stabilized this structure and the lighthouses that replaced it after decommissioning in 1908.

View Steve’s photo background big and see more in his 2016 Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse slideshow.

More Michigan lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures!

Golden Light at the Lighthouse

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Golden Light at the Lighthouse, photo by PhotoJacko – Jackie Novak

View Jackie’s photo bigger, see more in her Winter slideshow, and be sure to follow Jackie Novak Photography on Facebook.

PS: You can do a little Throwback Thursday to January 12, 2015 and the Polar Vortex at the St. Joseph Lighthouse.

December Sundown

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December Sundown, photo by Steven Karsten

Sunset at “Big Red” aka the Holland Harbor Lighthouse taken back in December of 2012.

View Steven’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his slideshow.