23rd March 2006 was a special day for us, because we got to visit the Point Loma lighthouse "up close and personal"
The story started a little while before our journey to San Diego,CA. We found out that the lighthouse has it's 115th birthday on a day that is special to us too, because the 23rd March is our wedding anniversary. So we thought we would issue this cover.
We took the picture on the cover in 2003, when we visited before. Our friend Kim Fahlen allowed us to use one of her pictures for the stamp. Kim then kindly got in touch with the US Coast Guard to see if BMC John Bowen, who is the Officer in Charge, responsible for the US Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team San Diego, would be prepared to sign the cover for us.
Well.... not only was he happy to do this, but he asked if we would like to come and visit the light. What a question!
OF COURSE we wanted to see the lighthouse. This light station is not open to the public and so we jumped at the chance!
The weather could not have been more perfect, when we arrived. Beautiful sunshine and not too much wind.
Executive Petty Officer BM2 J. Parra (on the right in the picture below) and also Lighthouse Technician EM3 Francisco Lopez (on the left) met us at the lighthouse. And a more enthusiastic pair of people you could not have wished for.
This is the only surviving tower of its type on the Pacific Coast. In 2001, the Coast Guard commissioned an engineering firm to study the condition and future of the lighthouse. The results of this study are very worrying.
In 2002 the lens was removed from the tower. It had become too dangerous to keep the heavy lens in the lantern room, as the lighthouse suffers from corrosion. So now the lens is displayed up at the Old Point Loma lighthouse, but more of that in a different report.
The corrosion is also the reason that NOBODY - not even the Coast Guard Lighthouse Technician who should maintain the light - is allowed to climb the tower. So, what happens when the light has a problem ??
We had to restrict our visit to ground level. The place looks great. And at first glance you would not believe how bad the situation is. The grounds are beautifully maintained, the old keepers houses are now homes for high ranking Coast Guard Officers and they look great. What a place to live!
Then we walked round the bottom of the tower and realised the situation. As you can see on the following pictures, there is corrosion every where.
The sign on the centre column of the stairs inside is out of date. Not even the ANT San Diego personnel are allowed up the tower any longer!
Even the Fog Horn is showing signs of corrosion, both at the seaward side ◄and at the back where the "workings" are ►.
Click here if you want to hear the fog horn. Be warned ... it takes ages to download the sound file
This is the sound we recorded, while they were testing the fog horns. Hopefully we did not disturb anyone with this noise.
The lighthouse is in REAL danger ... It takes money to make the required repairs and improvements. And money for this kind of job is in very short supply.
We sincerely hope a way can be found to preserve and repair this historic light tower.
On a lighter note.....
Since it was the lighthouse's birthday, our friend Kim had organised a birthday cake!
What a good idea! Thanks Kim!
So after all the photographs and all the exchange of information, we got to the celebration part:
Here to celebrate were - from the left Stan's daughter Susan, her partner John, Kim Fahlen, Stan, Lighthouse Technician Lopez and Margret
Executive Petty Officer Parra took the picture.
After all this excitement we were asked to be the first to sign the new guest book.
First Sue and Margret ....
.... then Stan
What a wonderful day!
Thank you to Executive Petty Officer Parra and Lighthouse Technician Lopez, who impressed us with their enthusiasm for this wonderful lighthouse, for their hospitality and patience and for their love of the lighthouse!
A few days later we met the two lighthouse enthusiasts again, when we visited the Coast Guard to finally meet BMC John Bowen, Officer in Charge ANT (pictured left), for him to sign the covers.
Thank you to BMC John Bowen too, for signing the covers and for the care given to the lighthouse!
We hope that the love for the lighthouse and the will to do all he can to save it, will bear fruit !
While we were visiting the Coast Guard, we found out about a very funny and flattering event.
The story starts back at the lighthouse, where we saw a Black Throated Magpie Jay. The picture on the right shows her on the roof of one of the keeper's cottages.
These birds are native to Central and South America. But this one had escaped from captivity and made it's home around the lighthouse.
After we left, Executive Petty Officer Parra and Lighthouse Technician Lopez decided that, since the Osprey who also is seen near the lighthouse, was called Oscar, the Magpie Jay should not be nameless. So they named it Marg, after Margret.
They thought, because Margret had a bad sun burn and so was rather "colourful" that day, it would be fitting to name a colourful bird after her.
Needless to say, Margret is THRILLED to have the bird named after her. Thanks Guys!
Would you believe it?
Lighthouse Technician F. "Javi" Lopez enjoys telling stories about this lighthouse and his service there. He kindly gave me permission to use one of the stories he told us. It is written in the log book the USCG uses to track work and incidents connected to the lighthouse.
The story too place on the 25th of December, when all family men want to be opening Christmas presents with their kids. Just like the lighthouse technician. But he called the watch-stander to make sure "his" lighthouse is OK and functioning as it should be. He asked for the surveillance camera, which is mounted on top of Point Loma, to be trained on the lighthouse.
This was done. Shock, Horror... the report was that there was no visible rotation i.e. no light was seen.
So two lighthouse technicians made their way to Point Loma in a hurry only to find out that everything was working fine!
When they investigated, they found out that the watch-stander had looked at the "OLD" Point Loma Lighthouse, which - as we all know - has not been active since 1891
On the left is a photograph of the logbook entry from that Christmas Day!
We thought, the log book should be published. How about it guys? Wouldn't that be a great fund raiser?
See more of our reports of places we visited
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