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Captain Greybeard

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Review for Fox Island Lighthouse Association, Traverse City, MI, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

The Fox Island Lighthouse Association was founded in October 2004, initiated by Sandra Bradshaw of Suttons Bay, MI, and seconded by my humble self, an old sailor and lighthouse buff from Switzerland, and John McKinney of Traverse City, former Seagrant Agent. Our goal was to save the lonesome light station on South Fox Island, 17 nautical miles off the mainland in Lake Michigan, abandoned by the US Coast Guard in 1959 and left to decay. By recruiting the right people, doing a lot of publicity work (Sandra is a writer and journalist), building a network of connections to the relevant authorities (the station will be MI state land "in perpertuity" according to a deed from 1971), and volunteering thousands of hours of hard physical work at the station, the decay has been stopped. A Historic Structures Report was drawn up and submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office a few months ago. Real restoration of the structures (seven buildings, one of the biggest light station complexes in the USA!) will be allowed depending on the outcome of the assessment of the the report. Very much has already been achieved, but much more will have to be done in the future. We are determined to take up the challenge, which includes tackling huge transportation and financial problems and a constant fight against weather, because there is no harbor on the island.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

... every detail ever since it was founded.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

... try to make sure the group gets a work boat that has better fuel economy and is more suitable for transporting heavy goods than the current boat. Strictly speaking, this, of course, is a technical issue, not an organizational one, but it is the most pressing issue apart from building a safe harbor, which is not our task but would have to be done by the state.

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How did you learn about this organization?

I was #2 in the founding process.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Saving the most isolated light station in Lake Michigan from further decay and bringing it to the attention of the public.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Restoring the station and turning it into a little education facility (environment, nautical history etc.).

Role:  Board Member & I was one of the three founders, still a board member and the captain of one of the boats used by the group to get to the island, and I designed and still maintain the Website of the group. .