I went on a lighthouse cruise sponsored by East End Lighthouses, Inc. We were scheduled to visit 12 lighthouses, including my three favorites: “Bug Light,” Race Rock and North Dumpling. Each lighthouse is unique. Together they have many stories to tell: the lives of the lighthouse keepers and their families; War of 1812-era skirmishes between the British and Americans that were fought around them; and the whalers, freighters, fishermen and travelers that passed by.
I love lighthouses because of their link to our history and their place in our present. If our boat’s radar didn’t work we would rely on lighthouses to guide us the same as mariners did 150 years ago. Lighthouses are landmarks, and as such are part of any plan to find our way out to sea and back home again.
During our trip we felt the tail-end of Tropical Storm Bob. Although we were cruising on a 160′, state-of-the-art, wave-piercing catamaran we were rocking and rolling with the swells. I couldn’t stand long enough to zip up my rain jacket. One woman ended up very sick from a reaction to Dramamine and had to be evacuated to New London. Good preparation by all for rain gear, but most of us weren’t used to being out on the water in heavy surf.
Being in the midst of the fog, rain and waves gave me a great respect for people who plied the waters of Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound and beyond in sailing ships and steamers. They survived on the water by their skills, experience and knowledge of the seasons. And a readiness to meet and adapt to the unexpected.