Have you ever wondered how a modern beacon in a lighthouse or on a buoy works, or how a fog horn automatically begins sounding when thick weather moves in?
The visiting public learned the answers to these questions and more during the 2011 Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge thanks to an educational exhibit by U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Southwest Harbor.
The exhibit, which was set up at Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse as a bonus site for the weekend-long lighthouse challenge event, highlighted the Coast Guard’s work to keep offshore lights shining bright along the coast of Maine.
The exhibit also featured an array of lanterns – some of which were “winking & blinking,” to the delight of many children.
Speaking of children, though the Coast Guard’s exhibit included a flashing VRB-25 beacon and 155mm lantern with its working lamp in full view, it was a light that didn’t look like the other beacons at all that captured the fascination of youngsters the most.
In what proved to be a popular hands-on activity, children were presented an opportunity to place a cardboard box overtop of a Carmanah light emitting diode (LED) beacon, which was designed to simulate darkness. Leaving the box in place, the children waited a few seconds for the light to begin flashing before removing the cover and enjoying a proud moment where they could say to their parents that they “turned on the light.”
With the educational exhibit set up inside the keeper’s house of Rockland Breakwater Light, there was no shortage of visitors to view the displays.
In all, over 700 people were presented with the opportunity to learn more about how the U.S. Coast Guard serves as “keeper of the lights” along our nation’s waterways, with a focus on Maine lighthouses.
The educational exhibit was a volunteer project by Coastguardsmen from USCG Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Southwest Harbor, which is under the command of officer-in-charge Timothy Chase. The ANT is responsible for twenty-six lighthouses from Port Clyde to Calais at the Canadian border, as well as a host of buoys and other lighted aids.
Coastguardsmen EM1 Theresa Ramirez, EM1 Steve Horner and Auxiliarist Bob Trapani, Jr. teamed up to create the exhibit. The trio received help from the City of Rockland’s harbormaster, Ed Glaser, in the transport of the displays to and from the lighthouse.
The Midcoast Maine Lighthouse Challenge is an annual event sponsored by the Friends of Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. To learn more about the event, visit: www.rocklandlighthouse.com