Digest>Archives> November 1997

Birth of a Lighthouse

By Dorothy Oxley


Along a sunny beach in southern New Jersey, you can see a small boy standing at the water's edge; waves lapping at his ankles, sand sifting between his toes. At the end of his busy day, busy as only a small boy can be on a beach, he is lovingly tucked into bed-lights out-it is dark, Then thru gossamer curtains, a friendly, flashing light begins, Flash - Flash - Flash - and he is lulled to sleep. A short distance from his home, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse keeps watch through the night - guarding the Inlet and this small boy.

A "love affair" with lighthouses has been born.

Time goes by and the boy, grown to manhood, is now travelling the world. Wherever there is a lighthouse, he seeks it out, investigates, and dreams: "Maybe, some day, I can own my own," Now and then, opportunities arise to make his dream come true, but the time never seems to be right.

Then, one day, he has the opportunity to purchase a piece of land on the island of Eleuthra in the Bahamas. His site is on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island where the land juts east. A few miles off shore, cruise ships and commercial vessels plow the Atlantic on their way north and south.

In a few years, when all the legal technicalities had been satisfied, it was time to build. First, the plans had to be drawn and approved. City officials had to be met with and consulted as to the various rules and regulations of this "foreign" land. A reliable builder had to be found, and, finally, in early 1990, work finally commenced. All but the basic concrete blocks had to be shipped or flown to the island. This required much shopping on the mainland and many a frustrating experience in acquiring the correct amount, size etc. of materials needed to ship - everything from nails and faucets to windows and roofing. Then, of course, there were all the export papers, legal fees and requirements needed to ship to a foreign port.

One of the main features of the home was a challenge even the builder was a bit skeptical of completing satisfactorily. An indoor, wrought-iron, spiral staircase, thru the roof where a widows-walk would surround an enclosed lighthouse. "Lighthouse?!" the builder exclaimed. Yes, with much investigation, a beacon was actually installed at the top of this unique, three bedroom home, overlooking the Atlantic.

Communications with officials in Nausau, capital of the Bahamas, for permission to install such a light, were met with enthusiastic approval. In November 1992, Mr. Leon Flowers, Port Controller of the Bahamas, declared the light an official navigational beacon and it was put on the navigational charts used world wide.

The light now shines from 75 feet above sea level, flashing its 94000 candle power beam nineteen miles out to sea. Owned and operated by David Steigelman of Boca Raton, Florida, it is now officially known as the Palmetto Point Lighthouse. But to that small boy standing on the Jersey shore many years before, it is his dream come true.

This story appeared in the November 1997 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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