The American Lighthouse Foundation and its local chapter, Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, are determined to keep working towards obtaining funds for the repair of the two granite breakwaters and the installation of a much-needed docking system at Whaleback Light.
The need for breakwater repairs and a dock were once again made clearly evident during a recent site visit to Whaleback Lighthouse.
On August 30, 2019, a small group of representatives from the American Lighthouse Foundation and the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association journeyed to both Whaleback Light and nearby Wood Island Life-Saving Station.
As planned, the group landed at Whaleback Light during high tide, and to no one’s surprise, options for effecting a safe landing were few and far between. The partially intact west breakwater was submerged, with a gusty southwest wind pushing swells over the would-be protective granite arm. The east breakwater is all but nonexistent – its one-time rock armor now strewn about on the north side of the lighthouse.
Thanks to the talented boat driving efforts of Sam Reid from the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association, the small group was able to safely disembark at the wave-swept location, but no one tarried getting from the boat onto the wet rocks.
While on site, ALF representatives inspected the lighthouse interior and exterior, and ALF President / FPHL Chairperson Jeremy D’Entremont shared both the history of Whaleback Lighthouse and the challenges associated with its long-term preservation.
“As always, it was an awesome treat to visit Whaleback,” said Jeremy D’Entremont. “The views high above the mouth of the Piscataqua are nothing short of awe inspiring, and I always find myself thinking of the keepers and family members who lived in the two towers on the ledge for more than 130 years — particularly that first rickety tower built in 1830. What an existence that had to be, living in apprehension through the storms of winter.”
D’Entremont went on to say, “It took a special breed of person to persevere through very real dangers in service of safe navigation. Today, our challenges are different but still very real. In our quest to preserve Whaleback Lighthouse, we’re battling the same forces of nature that the keepers once faced to survive. To facilitate further restoration and public visitation, we need to install a docking system. Every time we land on the rocks it reminds me how essential that goal really is.”
The ultimate goal at Whaleback Light is to welcome the general public to the offshore site and allow them to tour the 1872 light tower. In addition, the idea of establishing an educational / public access partnership with the nearby Wood Island Life-Saving Station is an attractive possibility once both historic sites are restored.
When it comes to Whaleback Lighthouse, its long-term preservation and ability to welcome visitors all hinges on repairing the breakwaters and installing a docking system. This goal remains front & center – and pursue it we will!