Digest>Archives> Mar/Apr 2021

From the Lighthouse Service Bulletin

By Jack Graham


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Vintage image of 2nd Punta Jiguero Lighthouse in ...

This column continues to provide excerpts from the “Lighthouse Service Bulletin,” a monthly publication of the Bureau of Lighthouses, U.S. Department of Commerce. The first was issued in January 1912, and it continued throughout the existence of the Bureau. Unedited quotes from Volume II No. 61, dated January 2, 1923 follow. The Bulletin had as its object “supplying information that will be immediately useful in maintaining or improving the standards of the Lighthouse Service, and of keeping the personnel advised of the progress of work and matters of general interest in the service and in lighthouse work in general.”

New Lightship With Radio Signal – One of the new lightships under construction in Bath, Maine, is nearing completion, and it is expected will in a few months replace the present ship on Nantucket Shoals. This vessel will have a radio fog signal and electric signal lights. This is probably the most important lightship station in the world, and there have been many requests that it be equipped with a radio fog signal. It will also have an oscillator in place of a submarine bell, and the vessel will have a radio operator and be equipped for radio communication.

Perilous Experience of A Light Keeper – Jerome McDougall, keeper of Coxsackie Light Station, N.Y., recently had a hazardous experience while endeavoring to maintain the light. This light is located on a dolphin in the Hudson River, and the keeper was attempting to change the lantern reservoirs. The structure had been weakened by the ice and collapsed with the weight of the keeper. He extricated himself from the wreck and started to swim to shore, but finding that his clothes and the intense cold would prevent this returned to the sunken boat and clung to the stern. In a few moments his hands were frozen stiff and useless, but he managed to rest an arm on the skiff. He was seen from a Standard Oil tug, which came to his rescue, throwing out a line. But the keeper’s hands were useless, and he tried to take a half turn around his arm, and at the same time took the line in his teeth, and was rescued in that way.

Lighthouse Service Exhibit At Marine Show, New York – The Lighthouse Service displayed the following exhibits at the marine show at the Grand Central Palace in New York City in November 1922: A flashing lens, illuminating and revolving, as in service; a 6-inch automatic siren fog signal and horn; a lens lantern and a post lantern; an electric clock and flasher; a radio fog signal model; a radio compass as installed on several lighthouse tenders; a chart of the entrance to New York illustrating the radio fog signal stations and their use; two comparative charts of New York harbor, showing on an exaggerated scale the lights and buoys in 1905 and 1922 respectively, showing increase from 217 to 387 in total number of aids to navigation for that harbor. The exhibit was in charge of the superintendent and other officers and employees of the third lighthouse district and attracted much favorable attention being of special interest to maritime bodies, steamship companies, master mariners, and others interested in maritime affairs.

Experimental Radio Fog Signal – An experimental radio fog signal has been established on the island of Inchkeith, in the Firth of Forth, Scotland. The device may be described as an apparatus for sending out short radio waves, which may be picked up by a simple apparatus on board vessels, at a distance of about ten miles from the station, the waves when received indicating the exact direction in which the transmitting station lies.

Reconditioned Mine Planters For Lighthouse Tenders – The needs of the Lighthouse Service for the larger type of seagoing tenders have been met for the next two or three years by the transfer of six mine planters from the War Department. These vessels will be used to replace older tenders worn out in service. The first of the mine planters to be reconditioned at the Staten Island Depot and renamed Spruce has recently been given its trial runs over a 3-mile course in New York Bay with satisfactory results. The vessel is about 172 feet in length overall, 32 feet beam, with a maximum draft of about 11 feet. With a boiler pressure of 160 pounds and about 145 revolutions per minute of the engines, a speed of over 11 knots was developed. Oil is used for fuel, and during the run only two burners of the four under each boiler were in use. There was practically no vibration of the vessel and its handling qualities were excellent. The ship was swung with wheel hard over and had a turning radius of about 250 feet. The Spruce has been assigned to the third district and it is believed will prove a valuable addition to the fleet of tenders. It takes the place of the Myrtle, a tender 50 years old, which has been sold.

Earthquake Shock In Porto Rico – The keeper of the Point Jiguero Light Station reports that on December 18, at 8:30 a.m. a fairly strong earthquake shock was felt. This did not cause and damage to the station. At 8:45 a.m. on the same day, a shock was also felt in the offices of the superintendent of lighthouses in San Juan. The seismograph at Harvard University registered a light tremor of the earth, distant 1600 miles in the direction of the West Indies, on the same day.

Items For Bulletin – Officers and employees of the Lighthouse Service are all invited to send in through official channels items of news relating to the Service which might be of interest for publication in this Lighthouse Bulletin.

That’s another sampling “From the Bulletin.” Watch this space in each issue of Lighthouse Digest for more.

This story appeared in the Mar/Apr 2021 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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