I have been fascinated with lighthouses for as long as I can remember. In 2013, I finally indulged this fascination by beginning to visit these aids to navigation. (My first visit, to Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was chronicled in the March/April 2014 issue of Lighthouse Digest magazine. My second visit to Absecon, and first visit to Drum Point Lighthouse, were chronicled in the March/April 2015 issue of Lighthouse Digest.)
Because I had only been to land-based lighthouses, I was determined that 2015 would be the year I would experience lighthouses in a different way. On September 19, I embarked on a day-long cruise of ten lighthouses along the Chesapeake in Maryland.
Shortly after 8:00 AM, I arrived at the Knapp’s Narrows Marina & Inn in Tilighman, Maryland and boarded the Sharps Island Boat; the M/V Sharps Island. At the helm was CAPT Mike, who has had the boat since 2002. After a few minutes of explaining boat safety and what I and the other passengers could expect on this lighthouse tour, the adventure began!
The first stop of the morning was the Sharps Island Lighthouse. CAPT Mike explained that as we approached each lighthouse, the boat would be slowed down in order for us to take pictures. As we arrived upon Sharps Island Lighthouse, CAPT Mike made sure to point out the masonry inside the lighthouse.
Next, it was on to Thomas Point Lighthouse. Thomas Point is the last screw pile lighthouse along the Chesapeake, that is still in its original location.
Stopping by Thomas Point Lighthouse on September 19, 2015 on the M/V Sharps Island.
Our third stop of the morning was Sandy Point Lighthouse, which is now privately owned and being repaired.
Baltimore Lighthouse was our fourth stop of the day. It was the last lighthouse along the Chesapeake to be built, and is privately owned.
Next on the agenda was a stop at Tolchester Beach in Chestertown, Maryland for lunch at the Channel Inn Restaurant. This also allowed for the opportunity to refuel the boat.
After lunch, we saw the remaining lighthouses that were part of the itinerary.
The fifth lighthouse of the day was Pooles Island Light. CAPT Mike remarked that he could not get the boat too close to this particular lighthouse, because of a nearby shoal. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines shoal as “a sandbank or sandbar that makes the water shallow.”
Pooles Island Lighthouse
Craighill Lower Range Light- Rear, North Point Range Lights, Craighhill Channel Upper Range Light- Front were our next stops.
Bloody Point Lighthouse was the final lighthouse on the tour. CAPT Mike noted that it was the scene of a terrible fire in 1960.
The approach to Bloody Point Lighthouse!
We returned to the Knapp’s Narrows Marina just shortly after 5:00 PM, after a beautiful, relaxed day spent on the waters of the Chesapeake, looking at 10 lighthouses, all different in shape, size, and the stories they held, from the Sharps Island boat.
To learn more about various tours of the Chesapeake lighthouses, visit: http://www.chesapeakelights.com/.
The next morning, September 20, I capped my birthday weekend’s lighthouse festivities with a visit to Cove Point Lighthouse in Lusby, Maryland.
Cove Point is Maryland’s oldest, continuously operating lighthouse. Because it is still an active aid-to-navigation, those visiting the lighthouse are not permitted to go to the very top of the lighthouse to the tower room. During my visit, it was explained that we could stand at the base inside the lighthouse and look up at the spiral staircase.
Cove Point Lighthouse as seen on September 20, 2015.
You can also arrange for overnight stays at Cove Point Lighthouse. The morning of my tour of Cove Point, we could not go inside the keeper’s house because there was a family who had rented the keeper’s house for an overnight stay.
It was an extremely windy day at Cove Point Lighthouse.
Although I was visiting Cove Point Lighthouse independently, it was exciting to see others who were there as part of Maryland’s Lighthouse Challenge Weekend, during which participants are encouraged to visit as many lighthouses in Maryland as possible, during the challenge weekend. Inside the Visitor’s Center on the grounds of Cove Point, many of those participating in the Maryland Lighthouse Challenge Weekend were getting their lighthouse passport books stamped, marking their visit to Cove Point.
To learn more about Cove Point Lighthouse, visit: http://www.calvertmarinemuseum.com/200/Cove-Point-Lighthouse.
As 2015 winds down and I reflect on my year, I am thankful for the opportunity to have experienced lighthouses in a different way by participating in a boat tour of 10 off-shore lighthouses along the Chesapeake, and also continuing my visit to land-based lighthouses such as Cove Point.
I am enriched by each lighthouse experience I have, and always come away eager for the next!