Digest>Archives> July 2005

A Forgotten Maine Beacon

By Pete Jones


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Painting the Crow Island beacon in 1962.
Photo by: Pete Jones

I recently read an article in Lighthouse Digest about the smaller shore aids, and didn’t think much about it. About a week later, I remembered that early in my Coast Guard career, I worked on one.

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Landing at the Crow Island beacon could be ...
Photo by: Pete Jones

Going into my slide files, I found that I did have a few slides, and had them made into prints. My notes state that it is Crow Island in Casco Bay. Without my notes, I never would have remembered the name, and in fact, after reading my notes, the name Crow Island still didn’t even ring a bell.

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As an aid to navigation, Maine’s Crow Island ...
Photo by: Pete Jones

Anyway, here is the story on the aid:

The photos were taken June 1962. We were sent from Coast Guard Base South Portland to perform maintenance on the aid. This was unusual since the base normally wasn’t involved in ATON work – other than Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse – unless there was an emergency. I was the boat coxswain, and we had a boat engineer along with two seamen.

The first run to the island was wasted, as we couldn’t safely get our 30-foot boat in, so we had to return to the base and carry a dory back with us.

As I recall, it was a fairly long run from the base to the island.

Paint, brushes, sand paper, etc., were loaded into the dory, and we rowed in. Then the equipment was carried up a hilly incline to the aid. We found the aid in deplorable condition – rust and what appeared to be generations of paint covering structural weaknesses. Without power tools, the job was impossible. Also, we had to keep an eye on our boat, anchored off the island, to ensure the anchor wasn’t dragging.

We spent four frustrating days ferrying back and forth each day from the base, doing as well as possible. Finally, we

just gave up and applied another coat of paint – probably as countless other crews before us had done, judging by the amount of paint on the aid.

I informed the chief that the aid needed to be completely sandblasted, welding repairs should be made, then primed and repainted. I was told okay, but to my knowledge, that was never done. And no one ever mentioned Crow Island again while I was at the base.

I do remember that we were

all amused when we left the island for the last time – from seaward, the aid looked brand new with our freshly applied coat of paint.

This story appeared in the July 2005 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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