Lightkeeper at anchor

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News & News Archives
(latest entry at the top, blog style)


10 YEARS FILA: Annual Meeting
FILA's 10th anniversary
Board Meeting of October 13, 2014
Harvest Festival 2014
Traverse City Schooner Fest 2014
Window Workshop
Voyage of Discovery
Lighthouse Party at Sandy's
End of Season for the Lightkeeper
Another load of sashes
Board Meeting of August 11, 2014
Port Oneida Fair
Second Work Trip -- finally
Suttons Bay Classic Boat Show
Board Meeting of July 14, 2014
Lightkeeper afloat
Board Meeting of June 9, 2014
First work trip of the season
MLA Conference 2014 etc.
SlickCraft Boat in the water!
Board Meeting of May 12, 2013
Board Meeting of March 10, 2014
DNR Friends Summit at Grayling

Board Meeting of February 10, 2014
Board Meeting of January 13, 2014

Annual Meeting of Dec. 8, 2013

Board Meeting of November 11, 2013
This is the Webmaster speaking
FILA documents open to the public
Maybe the last trip of 2013
7th Fall Harvest Festival
Board Meeting of September 9, 2013
FILA Party at Sandy's
Fourth trip - work & fun
Board Meeting of August 12, 2013
Port Oneida Fair
Third work trip
Inland Seas Classic Boat Show
Second work trip
Board Meeting of July 15, 2013
Cruising through the Foxes
DNR Trip of June 11, 2013
Board Meeting of June 10, 2013
First trip of the season
Board Meeting of May 13, 2013
Board Meeting of April 15, 2013
Board Meeting of March 11, 2013
Board Meeting of February 11, 2013
SlickCraft Boat Donation!
FILA's historical material available to the public
A Presidential Birthday
Board Meeting of January 14, 2013

Archived Pages

2012 all articles

2011 all articles

2010 all articles

2009 all articles

2008 all articles

2007 all articles

2006 all articles

2004 / 2005 all articles

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10 YEARS FILA: Annual Meeting

Our Tenth Anniversary celebration was both much anticipated and well attended with around forty persons at  the event. It was held at the Traverse Area District Library on Saturday afternoon, December 6th.

Only a blazing fireplace could have added more warmth as many hugs and smiles were passed. The "Finger-food Buffet" kept growing well into the party with many scrumptious delights brought, topped off by a cake especially made for FILA by Chimoski's Bakery in Suttons Bay.

Catherine Alchin gave a well-prepared Power Point presentation. She carefully covered the history of not only FILA but bits about the island's history, peppered with little jokes that kept the gathering smiling.

We all look forward to another fruitful ten years in working together saving "that little Light we all love," (a famous quoting of a well-known FILA member; name withheld by request).

FILA birthday cake
 Birthday cake.

 John Nelson and Anne McKinney.

 Run on the buffet.

Jeff Broderick and John McKinney.   

 FILA President John McKinney addressing the crowd.

Andy Allen and Sandy Bradshaw with one of the recently restored sashes.

Sandy Bradshaw
December 9, 2014
Photos courtesy of Frank Keegan.

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FILA's 10th anniversary

Ten years ago, FILA was founded after a lot of preparation in the course of about half a year. On October 18, 2004, a first public meeting, organized by Sandy Bradshaw, was held at the firehall in Suttons Bay, while the Website had gone online already the week before.

During the first half year, the name of the little group was South Fox Island Lighthouse Restoration Project (SFILRP). Since that was quite a mouthful, it was changed to Fox Island Lighthouse Association (FILA) in April 2005.

Even before the foundation of the group, it was quite clear that we were facing a huge challenge, especially in view of daunting transportation problems, so progress was expected to be very slow. Besides a tight budget, transportation has been one of the main issues ever since, but, looking back, we can proudly say we have achieved a lot.

The 2014 Annual Meeting, to be held at the Traverse Area District Library on December 6, 2014 at 1:00 p.m., will be kind of a public birthday party.

Happy Birthday FILA!

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
October 22, 2014

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Board Meeting of October 13, 2014

The board discussed updates on the shore crib dock application, the Endangered Species Survey, and the window restoration workshop plus a to-do list for the SlickCraft including suggestions for recruiting volunteer captains and Camper Keepers.

FILA's participation in the Schooner Fest in Traverse City and the Fall Harvest Festival at the Leelanau State Park were reported on. Many thanks to all the volunteers! The 2014 Annual Meeting, including FILA's 10th anniversary, was scheduled for December 6.

The 2014 list of island projects was reassessed. There are many things that could not get done because, due to technical problems with two of the boats, there were only a few work trips to the island.

A nominating committee for the board elections in December was nominated. No, really.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
November 10, 2014

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Harvest Festival 2014

Our eighth annual Harvest Festival, September 27, 2014 at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse / Leelanau State Park, was greeted with many participants and fabulous summer-like fall weather.

Pancakes were scrumptious and served up by our Pancake Flipper duo, Frank Keegan and Bob Ashmun with Sandy Bradshaw serving fruit. Al Ammons' home-tapped maple syrup was the hit of the breakfast feast. Pamela Nickerson was constantly busy tending all to perfection.

All in all a great festival, and we look forward to the next!

Sandy Bradshaw
September 30, 2014

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Traverse City Schooner Fest 2014

The South Fox Island Lighthouse Association was present at the Traverse City Schooner Fest, September 20 - 21, 2014.

The association passed out newsletters and brochures to engage the visiting public. We also chatted with the other non-profits who were present.

The last festival of the season is Saturday at the Leeleanau State Park Fall Festival, where FILA will hold the pancake breakfast and bratwurst lunch.

FILA booth in the MHA boat shop
The weather was lousy, so being inside MHA's boat
shop/museum was a treat.  

Donald Stauffer
September 26, 2014

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Window Workshop (September 5 - 7, 2014)

A grant through the Michigan Heritage Preservation Network is making it possible to begin the work of refurbishing the South Fox Lightstation windows. FILA members removed and transported to the mainland 14 sashes, all original construction with old fragile glass, from the 1867 building. Steve Stier, the professional hired to conduct the workshop, led the eleven participants through the many intricate steps using an amazing array of tools and techniques.

Five FILA members (Pamela Nickerson, John and Karen Wells, Jim Hasse and John McKinney) were joined by others from around the state, each of whom had specific reasons for attending (in the business, home repairs, graduate student).

Class working on sashes
FILA members and others at work.

Sashes being worked on
One window at a time.

Tools and materials on workbench
Lots of tools, materials and elbow grease were used.

Group shot of the whole class, FILA members and others
The whole group with some objects of their endeavor.

FILA members will continue the rehabilitation process this winter either at the DNR Grawn facility or in the Wells basement workshop. Hopefully yet this fall we will be able to bring more sashes in and return them next spring. With 7 buildings (six with windows) this project has a long future.

All are welcome to help.

John McKinney
September 14, 2014

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Voyage of Discovery

On August 23, the SlickCraft, also dubbed Fox Craft, had an hour-long trial run.

Results: The missing port tank must be replaced to provide sufficient capacity for safe off-shore use. The outdrive lift function does not work. The boat lacks modern navigation instruments. A few minor deficiencies must be tackled too, such as unfilled old screw holes in the deck and rusting screws on the helm seat pedestal.

However, all in all the boat is a robust and powerful unit with a good balance of cargo and crew capacity that may be quite useful to FILA provided that we have a successful recruitment of crews to operate it in the future.

Phil von Voigtlander
August 25, 2014

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Lighthouse Party at Sandy's

Here are a few photos from the FILA party at the Suttons Bay home of Sandy and Joerg, August 22, 2014:

Potluck under siege
Loading their plates (from left to right): Billy Bradshaw (Sandy's brother-in-law), Terry Pratt (foreground), Phil von Voigtlander (right behind Terry), Don Stauffer, Karen Wells, Sandy Bradshaw.

Terry Pratt, John McKinney, Laddie, Anita Pratt and Sandy Bradshaw.

 Frank Keegan, Mazey the dog, John McKinney, Terry Pratt, John Wells, Phil von Voigtlander and Karen Wells (again, of course, from left to right)

Cathy Allchin, Karen Wells and Phil von Voigtlander.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 29, 2014

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End of Season for the Lightkeeper

On August 22, the Lightkeeper was taken to the Northport Bay Boat Yard, hoisted out and put on her trailer, ready to be winterized.

Joerg aboard the 'Keeper on the hoist
Joerg on deck after entering the traveling hoist.

Hoisting the Lightkeeper
Lightkeeper already out of the water.

Two days later, she was already back in her old shrink wrap cocoon.

Old shrink wrap ready for reusage
Nobody but me would have believed last year's shrink wrap could be re-used.

Two hours later. Comment by Frank Keegan: "Never tell Joerg something can't be done."

An admittedly short, yet successful season for the Lightkeeper. Don't worry, we'll be back next summer!

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 28, 2014

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Another load of sashes

On Monday, August 18, 2014, Frank Keegan and I went to the Lighthouse aboard the Lightkeeper under the supervision of Laddie. The rather choppy lake made us anchor off the SE corner of David Johnson's property, but the new electric dinghy motor enabled us to get our equipment straight to the boat house.

 Frank Keegan at the helm
Frank Keegan, a seasoned sailor, steering the
Lightkeeper out of Grand Traverse Bay.

Laddie in the dinghy
Laddie in the dinghy over the treacherous shoals far off the beach. He absolutely loves riding the dinghy.

After some troubles while entering the lighthouse (I had 8 square bits in my tool kit, none of which would fit in those screws on the grating), we removed five more sashes from the first floor of the 1867 Lighthouse, to be used for the window restoration classes by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network & SHPO.

 Rough approach to the lightkeeper
 On Tuesday, the lake didn't look very favorable for
loading fragile sashes.

On Tuesday around noon, everything was ready for the return to Northport, apart from a rough lake. However, nuts underneath the loading platform chafed through the line of the dinghy, which quickly drifted off in the lively SSW wind. In a somewhat adventurous operation, I single-handedly retrieved the dinghy in waves of up to five feet briefly before it barely passed North Fox on her way to Beaver Island or even beyond.

In the meantime, Frank and Laddie were waiting in the boat house, ignorant of my quandary. After some time, they walked around the gull hook, only to realize there was no Lightkeeper at anchor. However, the boat was already coming back, with the dinghy in tow.

After that fuel-guzzling escapade of almost an hour at relatively high speed, we had to walk up to the Mirada Ranch to get some gasoline for a safe return to Northport, especially in view of the fact that I meanwhile had found out that the bottom 1/4 of tank height actually holds only about 8 % of the total capacity, meaning that in that range the fuel gauge plummets like a stone.

At the Ranch, we got very quick help, organized by Mrs. Pamela Johnson. Two young men of her staff, Brandon and J.D., hauled a generous amount of gasoline to the Lightkeeper. Due to the waves, the fuel had to be transferred from the jerry cans into the tanks using a little electric pump, after which they took the cans back to the Ranch. Many, many thanks to all of you!

Meanwhile, it was too late for the ride home, so we spent another night and dinghied our equipment and the sashes to the Lightkeeper on Wednesday. The lake was much calmer, and the passage to Northport was uneventful. At the gas dock we learned that, thanks to a nice tailwind, we still had a healthy reserve in our tanks.

Frank at the fire pit
Chef Frank cooking yet another meal at the fire pit. 

Toilet paper shredded by mice
This is what a team of Boat House mice can make out of a toilet paper roll in one night's time.

Morning at the crib
The little runaway in the morning sun at the crib.

Approaching the Lightkeeper by dinghy
Frank and Laddie on the way to the anchorage.

Sashes in dighy
Five sashes ready for the trip to the mainland.

Ready to drop the anchor
Frank weighing anchor (the Biggie!).  

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 28, 2014

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Board Meeting of August 11, 2014

Besides fire extinguishers now stored in the 1867 Lighthouse, missing boards on the crib dock, plans for a color brochure, and a brief report on several hacking attacks on the Website, the window restoration workshop was discussed. Steve Stier, who will conduct the workshop, attended the meeting and briefed the board.

Don Stauffer reported on several past and oncoming events with FILA's participation. The 2014 island projects were reviewed in regard to the difficulties the group is facing due to technical problems with several boats.

John Wells suggested that FILA donate surplus equipment to other non-profit organizations, details to be discussed at the next meeting.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
September 8, 2014

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Port Oneida Fair

FILA, for the fourth year in a row, participated in the annual Port Oneida Fair held this past August 8th and 9th.   FILA's tent was, as in prior years, located at the historic Burfiend barn site which was one of six open farmsteads at the fair. Spirits were kept high with quietly meandering live background music, sometimes of banjo, accordion or harmonica playing in the old barn behind the FILA booth.  Many friends were met, some old and some new ones made!

Don “Beadman” Stauffer kept the FILA booth hopping with his beadmaking activities, which both children and adults enjoyed.  Many left with a bead or two (some of them repeat customers!). “Beadman” kindly contributed part of his hard-earned monies earned at the event to support FILA.

 Don Stauffer's mini-trailer
Don's "marshmallow trailer," in which he spent the nights on the fair ground.

Tent & visitors
The FILA tent got pretty good attention. Don's glass bead making attract the kids, and then the parents are told that there is a light station that needs help...

 The booth team
Behind the scenes:, from left to right: Beadman Don, brother Gary, Sandy Bradshaw with Laddie, Cathy Allchin and John McKinney.

 Olsen House
The Olsen House, one of the other venues nearby.

The event was sponsored by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Preserve Sleeping Bear and Friends of Sleeping Bear. Thanks all for your support from the board.

Sandy Bradshaw
August 12, 2014

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Second Work Trip

The "Swiss Jockey," as Phil von Voigtlander once jestingly put it, made the race, actually without even trying. While all three boats were having certain technical problems, I somehow managed to synchronize the modifications on the Lightkeeper with the nice weather window of early August.

In the morning of August 4, Karen and John Wells, Gary Stauffer, Dick Zaebst and I left Omena Harbor for the first work trip to South Fox Island since the one-day trip two months before. There was a little incident while leaving Grand Traverse Bay: the dinghy got swamped, completely drowning the electric dinghy motor, and, after retrieving the dinghy, the starboard engine wouldn't start. But all in all we had a peaceful crossing.

Dick and Gary on the flybridge
Gary and Dick sitting on the recently re-installed flybridge seats, which had been removed eight years ago to make room for transporting the dinghy.

Dinghy with trolley
Gary rowing the dinghy with an upside-down trolley from the anchorage to the beach. The dinghy motor was on the blink due to drowning.

Gary's tent
Gary erected his tent after almost ruining his back on the badly bent lawn mower handle.

Make-shift repair of lawnmower handle
This simple make-shift repair on the lawn mower should have been done before Gary did all the hard work.

Dinner at the picnic table
From left to right: John, Gary at the stove, Dick, and Karen.

West beach high water
The west beach after sunset. The lake level was so high, certain parts of the west beach were just gone.

The second day saw most of the crew removing windows, wrapping them in square miles of bubble wrap and boarding the openings up, while the skipper was aboard, repairing the starter motor and draining the dinghy motor back to life.

 Preparing plywood for the windows
The usual combo: one guy working, two watching and commenting: John, Dick and Gary.

Karen cooking dinner, with supervisors
Karen cooking for a hungry crew: Dick, John and Gary.

The last morning was filled with moving all the removed windows aboard. The revived dinghy motor did a great job.

Lightkeeper after sunrise
Lightkeeper at anchor, briefly after sunrise.

Joerg bringing sashes to the Lightkeeper
Joerg bringing bubble-wrapped sashes to the
Lightkeeper. (Photo by John Wells)

South Fox Island from south
Leaving the Light Station behind.

Funny enough, on the way back home, it was the port engine that wouldn't start. However, we safely got back to Omena Harbor, where berthing the boat with only one engine was managed by a well-coordinated crew.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 12, 2014

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Suttons Bay Classic Boat Show

FILA made a good showing at the Classic Boat Show held Saturday, July 21, 2014 at the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay.  There were plenty of boats and plenty of people, and the weather, though a bit of early rain, faired us all well.  We spent the day happily “FriendRaising” as one of our members coined the activity.

Preparing the tent
Preparing the booth in the morning.

Madeline & Inland Seas at the dock
Madeline (left) and Inland Seas side by side at the dock.

The FILA crew
From left to right, front row: John Wells, Don Stauffer, back row H. Joerg Rothenberger, Sandy Bradshaw, John McKinney, Frank Keagan, Pamela & Jan Nickerson.

Don preparing the tent
Don Stauffer packing the booth tent.

This year's Classic Boat Show was dedicated to the memory of avid Suttons Bay sailor, Mark Pleune.  He was involved in putting on the show for most of its (prior) 25 year run. 

Sandy Bradshaw
August 12, 2014

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Board Meeting of July 14, 2014

The shore crib application status including obtaining the rocks from a specific area of the harbor according to the DNR as well as repair of ice damage were discussed. Three big fire extinguishers for the station will be provided by the DNR.

The SlickCraft is ready for another test run, the Islander is still in repair and the Lightkeeper is undergoing numerous modifications but can be used. Sandy Bradshaw arranged a towing insurance with BoatUS for all crafts, which had bee approved by the board by email.

John Wells and Cathy Allchin reported on  the latest details concerning the grant from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network for a window restoration workshop. Pending projects at the station were discussed, much delayed due to boat and weather problems. .

Keith Kintigh of the DNR gave an extensive report on input wanted by the DNR Wildlife Island Planning Group concerning wildlife management. Sandy is in touch with Robert Kegerreis, who would like to include the South Fox Light Station in his Travelogue documentary about Michigan lighthouses.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 15, 2014

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Lightkeeper afloat

Ten days after my return from Europe, Sandy and I launched the Lightkeeper in Ahgosatown on July 9, 2014 with the kind help of Joan Kalchik and Mike TenBrock. She had already undergone some modifications on the trailer, with more yet to come.

After a brief refueling dash into Northport Marina, we took her to her new place in Omena, using this little trip for some engine tests.

Lightkeeper launch

The Lightkeeper being launched by Mike Ten Brock.

Lighkeeper's wake in planing mode
Running south from Northport to Omena Harbor .

Sandy steering the Lightkeeper
Sandy at the helm.  

The Lightkeeper in Omena Harbor

The Lightkeeper in her new slip in Omena Harbor.

The following weeks the Lightkeeper basically was ready for action most of the time despite some work in progress, but the weather didn't quite play along.

Additional navigation equipment
Additional navigation equipment.

New bowsprit and anchor
New bowsprit, anchor roller and Mantus storm anchor.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 2, 2014

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Board Meeting of June 9, 2014

Ham Hobson of the DNR reported on the dock application status. Don Stauffer reported on the ice damage on the temporary crib dock. The meeting of May 21st with the DNR was discussed.

The SlickCraft was launched but a blown transmission was discovered. The problem is being tackled. The schedule of public events with FILA participation and the list of 2014 island projects were discussed. According to the first crew at the light station last week there is no significant damage from last winter.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 1, 2014

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First work trip of the season

On Thursday, June 5 we (John McKinney, John Nelson, Don Stauffer, John Wells and I) traveled to the light station on South Fox aboard the Islander. This was our first trip of the season and as such was the latest start FILA has had; a month ago the southern end of the island was still locked in ice. We had a cloudless and calm day for the uneventful run out there despite the 35 degree water temperature.

We were carrying one of our recently rebuilt lawn mowers, and, as soon as we got it ashore, it was put to use cutting all the lawn areas. Other team members cleared the side walks, cut brush along the paths, maintained the equipment and inspected all the buildings. All appeared as we left them last autumn. There was some evidence of ice damage in the harbor with the landing crib sustaining minor damage (loss of a portion of the deck).

In the afternoon, we continued mowing while others policed the beaches. We were joined by a seaplane of University of Minnesota Plover habitat investigators and spent some time with them discussing their project and our earlier bird surveys. Later we loaded up the last of the worn-out mowers and our gear and departed.

Though the pleasant weather continued, the return trip was eventful: a short distance from the island we suffered a major engine failure (the first problem we have had with the Islander). We deployed our emergency propulsion unit (6 hp outboard) and had a leisurely return voyage. This was the first full test of the outboard to go the whole distance; slow but sure we returned to Northport in the late evening.

Subsequent investigation revealed a likely blown head gasket, and the boat was delivered to Manitou Marine for repairs.

Three Johns

Three Johns: John Nelson, John Wells & John McKinney (from left to right).

Access to skeleton tower
The ground beneath the 1934 Skeleton Tower was cleared for access by ladder.

 Lean-to in miserable shape
A sorry sight: the lean-to behind the 1867 Lighthouse.

Phil von Voigtlander
June 8, 2014
Photos by Don Stauffer

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Michigan Lighthouse Alliance Conference 2014 etc.

The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance Conference May 22nd and 23rd at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City was two days of information and exchange of stories and a shared love of those Light Stations. Believe me; the 'remote' group (those of us on islands around the Great Lakes) shared the most information and best stories as well as input to the seminars. We (FILA) are not alone. In fact, FILA is in way better shape than some groups. I found this out over the cocktail hour(s). Don't worry.I did not embarrass the FILA Family name and made a lot of friends for FILA. Met some passionate folks who care very much about Light Stations.

Ken Czapski, who did our HSR, has found shingles that match the 1910 Assistant Keepers Quarters building roof. The shingles are in an attic in a church he was doing an HSR for. That will take some phone calls / e-mails to determine availability of the shingles and location of the church. God bless Ken. He also bought me a beer!

May 25, on to visit two light houses and one fog signal building; saw two very good representations (complete restorations as far as I could tell) of 1867 Lighthouses. The fog signal building was a disappointment. One 1867 light house was a land based Station. (Read: parking lots to drive up to at Ontonagon, MI). The other at Copper Harbor, MI required a boat ride of ½ mile.

 Boat to Copper Harbor Lighthouse
Boat to Copper Harbor Lighthouse.

Copper Harbor Lighthouse
Copper Harbor Lighthouse, built 1866.

Another view
Same Lighthouse, different view.

Fog signal building at Eagle Harbor, MI
Fog Signal Building at Eagle Harbor, MI.

Oil House at Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse
Oil House of the Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse.

Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse
Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse.

1600 miles, 6 nights and 7 days to circle Lake Superior.

Just a note: the ice is very much on the waters of Lake Superior harbors. We refilled our cooler with Lake Superior ice.

John Wells
June 2, 2014

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SlickCraft Boat in the water!

After a fun adventure of lost keys, a dead battery for the front winch, and no gas (will fill up this weekend sometime), we finally launched the SlickCraft last night about 9:15pm.
The duct tape that was used to 'seal up' the hatch has to be removed - *note to team: NEVER NEVER NEVER use duct tape on a boat hull unless an emergency. There's about 4 hrs time to get the residue and sticky string off the deck. Will be a good 'hang out on the boat' kind of project.
The cabin needs cleaning, closet door latches need to be tweaked, and the anchor line needs to be installed on the windlass. There might be an issue with the motor lift, didn't seem to go down all the way. Will be looked at this weekend.

SlickCraft boat at Elmwood
The boat almost ready for action.

The boat will stay in Elmwood until Northport opens up.

Catherine Allchin
May 23, 2014

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Board Meeting of May 12, 2013

The financial report was approved and its influence on the 2014 Project List was discussed. So were the dock application status, the endangered species survey, and FILA's participation in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Conference (May 21 - 23) in Traverse City.

Cathy Allchin reported on the plans for the launch of the SlickCraft boat. Northport Harbor isn't open yet. Summer festivals were discussed.

Main items of the Island Projects list: Assistant Keepers Building Roof, Lean To on the 1867 Lighthouse Building, gutters on Assistant Keepers Building, and Boat House Doors and Windows.  

Cathy mentioned that the projected total funds for the Crib Project would be about $230,000.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Don Stauffer's minutes
May 23, 2014

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Board Meeting of March 10, 2014

Since there was no quorum, the February meeting minutes and financial report were deferred. According to John Wells, the Year End Appeal garnered around $8000.00.

Ham Hobson, our DNR man, reported on the dock application status (currently in review at the DNR) and the Endangered Species Survey. In April, FILA will meet with the DNR concerning this year's work permits etc.. According to Cathy Allchin, the Partnership Agreement with the DNR has been completed and submitted.

The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program did not grant FILA?s application for money to fund a window restoration workshop, but there may be another opportunity in cooperation with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

John Wells reported on the very well received DNR workshop presentation by Karen, his wife, and him. The priorities of the items on the island project list for 2014 were presented and discussed. A book writer contacted FILA concerning a research trip to the Light Station, which is the central topic of a book in the making.

Ham Hobson notified the board of an inquiry by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments regarding a proposed water trail project for canoes and kayak with a possible stop at the station. Ham suggested that Paul check out the FILA website for further information.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
March 14, 2014

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DNR Friends Summit at Grayling

The DNR-sponsored "Friends Summit" was held at the DNR's South Higgins Lake facility in late February. The event was designed to promote understanding, communication, and a sharing of ideas between the DNR and its non-profit friends groups. These groups present a hefty lot who volunteer at the over one-hundred state parks and recreation areas throughout Michigan.

FILA's John and Karen Wells made a thirty-five minute presentation which was well received with many questions asked by the audience afterwards. The Wells highlighted tips on how the annual Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival  has become a success. This coming fall, FILA, in conjunction with the Leelanau State Park at Northport, will hold the Eighth Annual Harvest Fest (date to be yet announced).

Sandy Bradshaw, based on John Wells's notes
March 2, 2014

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Board Meeting of February 10, 2014

The Board Meeting at the GT Children's Museum saw a big attendance including two participants on a transatlantic phone line. Ham Hobson (DNR) reported that the dock application is now being reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Ways to prevent problems for endangered species were discussed.

The proposed 2014 budget, as distributed at the January meeting, was accepted. Participation in regional events was outlined. The list of island projects got updated.

The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance will be holding a conference at the Haggerty Center in Traverse City on May 21st ? 23rd. FILA board members are welcome to attend at their own cost.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
February 12, 2014

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Board Meeting of January 13, 2014

The FILA Board, meeting at the GT Children's Museum, approved the minutes of the Annual Meeting and the financial report incl. a summary of the 2013 budget. Cathy Allchin reported on the state of the dock plans. John Wells briefed the board on the End of the Year Appeal and other fund raising projects. Ham Hobson of the DNR informed the board that the DNR will place fire extinguishers at the station and that storage is now available to FILA at the Grawn Field Office. John McKinney submitted a grant application to fund a class on wooden window restoration to train 6 - 8 people.

John Wells reported that the logbook of Allan Caine, last lightkeeper at the South Fox Light Station, has been located. Phil von Voigtlander and Cathy presented the island projects for 2014. John Wells will be giving a workshop on how to put on a fund-raising food event at the DNR Friends Summit being held at the Ram Center in Higgins Lake.  The workshop is scheduled for March 1st, 2014.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
February 12, 2014

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Annual Meeting of Dec. 8, 2013

Fox Island Lighthouse Association held its 10th Annual Meeting on December 8. Twenty plus supporters joined for good food and good conversation plus a viewing of Doug McCormick's 1981 walk-about video of the lightstation where he spent time as a child. His reflections and insight were a perfect complement to the theme of our gathering. During the business portion we elected officers and welcomed a new Board member, Dan Schafer.

John McKinney
December 9, 2013

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Board Meeting of November 11, 2013

The September meeting minutes and the financial report were approved. Cathy Allchin reported on the SlickCraft boat winter storage, and the board decided to spend about $250.00 on shrink-wrapping. Cathy also briefed the board on the planning for the dock at the Light Station.

John Wells reported on fundraising, including the Year End Appeal he will write and send in the near future. He also commented on the visitor log from the station (including amazingly many kayakers) and on the inventory list of items owned by FILA, and he outlined the plans for the Annual Meeting.

John McKinney asked member to submit their volunteer hours. Cathy and Phil von Voigtlander presented the island projects for 2014, comprising Boat House doors and windows, the Assistant Keepers' Quarters rood and the dock.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
December 8, 2013

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This is the Webmaster speaking

On September 10, 2013, our FILA Website got hacked. A malicious code was inserted on all HTML pages, a pretty crude script that tried to download spyware to the visitor's computer. The risk was minimal, though, since every decent antivirus program issued or updated after June 2012 is able to intercept the little meanie.

I spotted the malware code within less than eight ours (it got implanted while I was sleeping, Central European Time, still evening the USA) and immediately removed it. However, there still are Internet service providers and search engines that list the site as infected and issue a warning whenever you visit it. That's because those blacklists usually are updated only once in a few months. If you are getting a warning, don't worry, the site is clean.

Thanks to Karen and John Wells for notifying me of the persistence of those warnings!

By the way, I wonder why someone would go through all the hassle of cracking pretty sophisticated access passwords in order to damage such a little Website with about 75,000 visits in 9 years (which is not a bad count, though, considering the small circle we address).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
December 5, 2013

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FILA documents open to the public

John Wells is to be thanked for his singular efforts to collect and place the FILA archival files in two Michigan historical institutions - the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan and the Leelanau Historical Museum in Leland.

The collection at the Bentley Historical Library is now available to the public. Please click here to visit it.

The Lightstation on South Fox has a long and important history in the maritime story of northern Lake Michigan and John recognized the need to preserve it and make it available to all.

Thanks John.

John McKinney
Nov. 18, 2013

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Maybe the last trip of 2013

Don and Gary Stauffer, John Wells and Phil von Voigtlander traveled out to the Fox Island Light Station today aboard the Fox Light Star Craft. The rapidly changing weather provided a brief window of opportunity to access the Station; 36 hours prior to this, 10 foot waves were focused on this exposed shoreline. Last night the wind had gone N and moderated. By this time this evening the ESE wind is back up to 15 knots; so our timing was good.

Immediately upon landing, Gary got the mower started and made good progress on the final cutting of the season prior to the mower acting up. Attempts to revive it were unsuccessful (3rd mower to pack up this season) so we focused on other projects. All buildings were confirmed to be secure and interior inspection of the Shop, Fog Signal and Lighthouse were satisfactory. The Boat House interior was cleaned up and 2 garbage cans full of trash removed for disposal on shore.

Station seen from the boat at anchor
Fall colors kicking in around the Light Station.

 Grave cleaned
Because the mower broke down, Gary and Don cleaned the area
around the grave north of the Assistant Keepers' Quarters.

Phil serviced the latrine with compost and cleaned up shoreline litter around the lighthouse property. Meantime, the rest of the crew cleared the path to the west beach, put away the seasonal equipment and picnic tables, secured all buildings and prepared to load the boat. We returned with the lawn mower, emergency food buckets, medical kit and 2 full garbage cans of trash.

Concrete columns W of Assistant Keepers' Quarters
Concrete columns from the former
front porches of the Assistant
Keepers' Quarters.

This was the 7th* and perhaps last FILA trip of the season.

Phil von Voigtlander
October 14, 2013
Photos by Gary Stauffer

* 5 trips  by FILA boats, one by the DNR boat and one by private sailboat

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7th Fall Harvest Festival

The FILA Pancake Breakfast and Brat Lunch at the seventh Annual Leelanau State Park Fall Harvest Festival was very successful. Seems like each year we get more and more in attendance; it is becoming an established and recognized event, one people in the community look forward to.

The weather cooperated, the chance of rain never materialized. Certainly that helped too, both in attendance and happy faces. Frank Keegan and Bob Ashmun were indispensable and worked hard at making the yummy pancakes for the hungry crowd while John Wells grilled sausages and brats all day long. The crew eventually ran out of supply because of overwhelming demand.

A special thank you to the cooks as well as Don Stauffer with his beautiful beads and each and every other volunteer. And a special thanks to Al Ammons for hosting the event as well as the Michigan State Park System for making this a free entrance day to all state parks throughout Michigan.

Frank and Bob flipping pancakes
Frank (left) and Bob ready for the crowd

Pancake line
Line at the pankake counter

Sandy Bradshaw (photos by Barbara Keegan)
September 29, 2013

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Board Meeting of September 9, 2013

Topics that were discussed at the meeting: fire extinguishers provided by the DNR (will be placed at the station by the DNR), SlickCraft boat (ready to launch), dock plans (the $20,000.00 DNR grant has been extended to two years; approved), Year End Fundraising Appeal (the Board has to decide what project to use), Message in a Bottle (DNR will check if FILA will be allowed to release bottles into the lake), Bay Harbor Foundation grant (no decision yet as to what organizations will receive monies), Kathy Firestone's 1991 VHS cassette, narrated by Dough McCormick (got transferred to DVDs), FILA inventory for grant applications (updates to John Wells by the next Board Meeting), and the FILA Annual Meeting (scheduled for December 8th).

Committee reports: Fall Harvest Festival (Don Stauffer has done 10 lighthouse beads for his cookie cutter project), FILA Raffle (will run December 2013 - December 2014), history (the Bentley Museum is digitizing 800+ pages of archival material), and island projects (Boat House doors ready for painting, must get transported to the station, possibly even airlifted).

New business: invasive species (parts of the Phragmites colony northeast of the station has been replaced naturally by native willows), and volunteer hours 2013 (need to be documented to be submitted to the DNR).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
September 18, 2013

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FILA Party at Sandy's

On Friday, August 16th, Sandy Bradshaw and Joerg Rothenberger hosted a FILA potluck gathering at their Suttons Bay home. There was lots of good food and great conversations. Needless to say that lighthouses, boats and water were important items on the agenda.

 Party at Sandy's 1
 From left to right: Gary Stauffer, Frank Keegan, Jeff Nicherson, Barbara Keegan, Jane Stauffer, John Wells, a little bit of Terry Pratt, Phil von Voigtlander, Pamela Nickerson, a glimpse of Anita Pratt, Sandy Bradshaw and Sharon Williams.

Party at Sandy's 2
Loading the plates:  Pamela Nickerson, Jim Williams, Sandy Bradshaw, Terry Pratt, Sharon Williams, Jane Stauffer, Gary Stauffer.

Party at Sandy's 3
 Clockwise, starting at 9:00: Jane Stauffer, Gary Stauffer,
Terry Pratt, Sharon and Jim Williams, Frank Keegan,
Jeff Nickerson, Anita Pratt, Barbara Keegan.

FILA gives a hearty welcome to new members, Frank and Barbara Keegan, who were at the party. They recently moved here from Baltimore and got in touch with our group at the Inland Seas Classic Boat Show in Suttons Bay in July. So nice to have more sailors who happen to love lighthouses join FILA. And it is good to see FILA knows how to work but enjoys a nice low-key gathering just for some onshore fun too!

Sandy Bradshaw
September 9, 2013

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Fourth trip - work & fun

On August 12, 2013, Sandy Bradshaw and Laddie welcomed Anita and Terry Pratt, long-time FILA supporters, aboard the recently recommissioned Lightkeeper, again captained by Joerg. Despite the sunny weather, the ride to the island was rough enough to knock Sandy off the deck salon sofa due to an freak wave. As on the previous trip, the boat was anchored a good half mile NNE of the Light Station to avoid the cross seas and southerly wind around the lighthouse point.

While crew, mutt and equipment were rowed to the beach, the wind, as forecast, veered through a full 180° within an hour. The new ground tackle of the Lightkeeper (two big anchors with long chains) handled that sharp shift with ease. The entire material had to be carried to the boat house. Because of the pretty cold wind, the kitchen was set up in the Boat House, which also dubbed as a dining room.

The next morning, Joerg gave the Pratts a tour through the buildings. Then he continued the survey work in the arid area north of the Station, while Sandy checked the medical emergency kit for missing items. Joerg came back with photos of very big canine tracks, some of which had been found already by the Stauffer brothers two weeks before and had triggered speculations about the possible existence of wolves on the island.

Sandy checking the emergency kit
Sandy checking the medical emergency kit at the
picnic table next to the Nickerson Fire Circle 

 Emergency kit in lighthouse bathroom
The emergency kit is stored in the bathroom
of the 1867 Lighthouse

1867 Lighthouse
The 1867 Lighthouse tower

The second evening sported a dramatic panorama of heavy black clouds, but they brought no rain. After a nice dinner in the Boat House, Terry even built a fire in the Nickerson pit to make s'mores.

 Black clouds over the Light Station
Menacing looking clouds over the Light Station but
no thunderstorm

S'mores at the fire pit
S'mores session at the fire pit despite the cold wind

The lake looked a bit calmer the following morning. While Joerg was finishing his survey work in the dunes, the Station was visited by three young guys from Johnson's ranch. They confirmed Joerg's theory concerning the alleged wolf tracks: There is a big mastiff at the ranch that sometimes roams the beaches.

 Three visitor's from Johnson's ranch
The three visitors from Johnson's Mirada Ranch

Brunch on the dock
Brunch on the old dock after breaking camp. From left to right: Anita, Terry and Sandy.

Around noon, Terry and Joerg moved the boat to the regular anchorage next to the old dock to get material, people and dog aboard. The ride back into Grand Traverse Bay was gentler than the way out, and the trip was polished off by a nice dinner in Omena.

 Terry changing shoes at the dinghy
Terry ready for the row to the

At anchor off the old dock
At anchor off the old dock

Terry at the helm
Terry steering the
Lightkeeper into Grand Traverse Bay

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 20, 2013

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Board Meeting of August 12, 2013

Topics after approval of the July minutes and the financial report: The Light Station Lease for 25 years was signed by John McKinney, notarized and sent to the DNR. The Gift and Acceptance Agreement will be revisited if changes are made by the DNR. The Lightkeeper (boat) title has been transferred out of FILA's name. Maintenance on the donated SlickCraft boat was completed. FILA found out that the floating docks actually do not belong to them. The DNR has proposed giving FILA $6000.00 in return. As a consequence, Jim Schiffer is redrawing the dock and breakwall plans.

John Wells reported on fundraising projects: two Year End Appeal letters, Lighthouse mugs, commemorative FILA glass beads, Lighthouse cookie cutters with Lighthouse bead, message in a bottle, and auctioning a trip to the island. John has sent the Bay Harbor Foundation Grant Letter of Intent.

Don Stauffer reported on regional events at which FILA had presented its projects. Volunteers are needed for the Fall Harvest Festival. Island projects (Phil von Voigtlander & Cathy Allchin): The Boat House doors and windows are nearing completion.

Cathy is in touch with Airworthy Productions regarding producing a program on the South Fox Island Light Station. FILA will join the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association this year. John Wells will conduct an inventory of FILA's tools and promotional materials.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 24, 2013

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Port Oneida Fair

On Aug. 9 & 10, we were at the Port Oneida Fair. Two long days in the sun but many great visitors stopped by to talk with us. We sold some FILA hats and a few other FILA merchandise. Catherine Allchin, John McKinney and John Wells helped staff the booth. Sandy, Joerg, Molly and Joey were there on Saturday to help, also. The glass bead making demos helped to draw in people. We made a couple hundred dollars over the two days.  

 Inside the FILA booth
From left to right: Don Stauffer, Joey Webb, Molly Stauffer, Sandy Bradshaw

People at the FILA booth
The FILA booth; Don attracts the kids, then FILA attracts their parents.

Sandy making a wood peg
Sandy testing her skills of wood peg making

Traditional music
Traditional music in the Burfiend Barn

Don Stauffer
August 24, 2013

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Third work trip

After two years out of commission, the Lightkeeper had been launched by Captain Joerg on July 25 after a thorough overhaul of 2 1/2 weeks. On July 29, we left Ahgosatown Marina north of Omena. Crew was Sandy Bradshaw, Donald Stauffer and Gary Stauffer, plus Laddie, Sandy's collie. Joerg was experimenting with propeller pitch and fuel consumption calculations, so we had a pretty slow trip. It was windy and we approached the Light Station from NNE to anchor in the lee near the northern boundary of the Lighthouse property, about 1/2 mile from the boat house.

Lightkeeper in Ahgosatown Marina
Joerg welcoming the crew aboard the refurbished
Lightkeeper in Ahgosatown Marina.

 Approaching the anchorage 
Edging into the anchorage in the lee of the lighthouse.

Shuttling crew to the beach  
Don, Laddie and Sandy after boarding the dinghy.

We only took what we needed to set up camp that night. It was a short night as everyone was up early to return and unload the boat. We made four trips to get everything to the boat house. Donald brought his small mower from home and the Stauffer guys started the tough task of cutting the tall grass at the lighthouse.

 Gary & Don carrying the lawn mower
Don (left) and Gary carrying the lawn mower along the beach.  

Don mowing grass
Don with the lawn mower in front of the 1867 lighthouse.

Sandy hauling stuff at the boat house
Sandy removing lumber from the boat house.

The wheels were set as high as they would go and it was tough mowing. Joerg got out his transit and proceeded to take measurements around the property. Sandy cleaned the boat house and set up the kitchen. Gary and I cut back the briars and cleared the paths. We had some rain which stopped the mowing.

The next day we finished the mowing and trimming around all of the buildings. Sandy cooked a "Mustgo" dinner  since the ice was melting and we had a whole chicken and great baked bean dish. Gary and I swept out the two assistant keeper's apartments closest to the lighthouse. Laddie, the lighthouse dog, was a great traveler and followed us around the property and stayed close. The wind was nasty on Wednesday but we worked around it.

Thursday morning, we closed up the buildings, packed up the tents and gear and were able to move the boat out front of the boat house. We made four trips in Joerg's new dingy out to the boat to get loaded for departure. The weather cooperated and the wind died down somewhat, so we started our slightly quicker trip back.

Leaving South Fox behind
Looking back to South Fox Island.

Joerg was still experimenting with different throttle settings. It was fun to watch him steer the boat through two 90 degree turns just using the gear shifter.

Don Stauffer
August 1, 2013

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Inland Seas Classic Boat Show

On July 20, 2013, there was the Inland Seas Classic Boat Show in Suttons Bay. Sandy Bradshaw, Joerg Rothenberger and Donald Stauffer set up the FILA booth and the Glass Bead Making tent. The festivals are more ?friend raising? than ?fund raising? but it always helps to have FILA staff around to talk to people looking over the display. John Wells and John McKinney helped to spell those at the booth. Don was making glass beads and donating half of the profits to FILA.

 Inland Seas & Madeline
Madeline (MHA, left) and Inland Seas (ISEA) side by side

FILA booth at the festival
FILA's booth next to the two tall ships

John McKinney talking to the Sheriff
 John McKinney (right) briefing county officials

Musicians next to the FILA tent

Don Stauffer
August 24, 2013

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Second work trip

On July 16, co-captains, Phil von Voigtlander and Donald Stauffer, met Gary Stauffer, John McKinney, & Jim Schiffer at Northport for an 8:00 am departure. Calm seas allowed a quick one and half hour trip out to the Lighthouse.  Phil assigned tasks to be completed and we started in. Jim S started the survey for the new crib in the water. A major problem soon developed as the only lawnmower wouldn't start or run!

The stones in the water by the old crib and in front of the boat house were removed to provide better access by dingy. Phil tried to "kill" the poison ivy and Gary became Rod Man to the surveyor. Donald cleared the path through the woods to the West beach. Weather started to get windy and that meant more waves, so a quick dip out by the Islander was taken before we left for Northport.

We had a slightly bumpy ride for part of the trip back but still made it in one and a half hours. This is the Islander's 5th trip out to the Lighthouse and we used $90 for gas this trip. We will try another work trip next week, weather permitting. If we don't get the grass knocked down, we will need a hay bailer!

We really need to get two mowers for use at the Lighthouse. When the mower goes down, we waste a trip and have to return soon. We talked about having sheep or goats out there, but couldn't come up with a viable plan. Anyone have a heavy duty mower for us?

Don Stauffer
July 16, 2013

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Board Meeting of July 15, 2013

The Board met at the Grand Traverse Children's Museum without any absences from either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

After approval of the May minutes and the financial report, the following topics were discussed: details of the Emergency Handbook / Crisis Management Plan (Ham Hobson, DNR, attending the meeting, will check to see if he can get fire extinguishers for the station), Light Station Lease for 25 years (John McKinney will sign it), Gift And Acceptance Agreement (unlikely to be signed, reasons discussed), loaning the floating dock sections to Michigan Boaters' Association for a boat show (approved), Lightkeeper boat title transfer (within the next few days), new boat shake-out cruise (could take 2 - 3 weeks, financing within the budget approved), fundraising, and Bay Harbor Foundation Grant Letter of Intent.

FILA's participation in the Inland Seas Festival in Suttons Bay, the Port Oneida Fair, the Fall Harvest Festival and a summer raffle were discussed. New FILA hats will be sold at events. John Wells checked with the Crist Point Light Historical Society as to how they got so many members and got some hints.

Island projects: The Boat House doors will be constructed by the DNR, painted by volunteers, diassembled, transported to the Light Station, reassembled and hung. The Boat House windows will be restored by qualified volunteers.

H. Joerg Rothenberger has compiled satellite photos of the entire Light Station property from three sources. The differences (different seasons, different times of the day) can be used for assessing many interesting features that are not visible from ground level. He will make the pictures available on the Website. Joerg also offered to make digital copies of Cathy Firestone's South Fox video tape on his professional grade VHS equipment. Ham Hobson mentioned that the DNR also has some video footage of the station that could be made available.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 23, 2013

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Cruising through the Foxes

On Wednesday, June 26, I stopped off for the evening at South Fox with the intention to get the place at least mowed. I anchored off the west beach and went ashore prior to dinner and inspected the station; all is well and the marked trail was appreciated.

After dinner I hiked the northern boundary to assess the condition of the signage; some was missing or weathered to the point of needing replacement. We should discuss the issue of more permanent signage at the next board meeting.

I had hoped to mow Thursday morning  but an advancing thunderstorm forced me to relocate to the lee of the island in the middle of the night. Thursday was wet and foggy and I needed to travel on.

There is gas in the mower if anyone gets out that way.

Phil von Voigtlander
July 1st, 2013

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DNR Trip of June 11, 2013

The DNR boat left Leland harbor shortly after 9:00A.M., captained by Conservation Officers Steve Huff and Rebecca Hopkins. FILA staff: Catherine Allchin and John Wells, DNR staff: Keith Lounsbery, Brent Rayle and Ham Hobson.

According to John, "The entire day had a common dominator: FOG. It is interesting to be at the proper location - according to GPS and radar - in dense pea soup fog, and land is nowhere even close to being seen. Land must be nearby. Then, slowly a beach appears; looks like a long cloud in fog - and sure enough, there?s the Boathouse! Bingo! There?s Phil?s favorite mooring buoy! Set the anchor. Familiar neighborhood."

Quoting Cathy: "Ham had a Youtube moment when he stepped out of the dinghy, got his foot stuck in the line and almost did the splits while trying to get out of the boat. Fortunately no camera was rolling but he IS the first to 'take a dip' out at the station this year!"

Again John: "I top coated the Boathouse rails (I know, not an HSR priority item) but I wanted them to look nice. It only took me two years.  Hope you all understand. I have a love affair with Rust-oleum paint."

Back to Cathy: "John worked the hardest painting the rails and hauling the 'emergency food buckets' up the hill. The rest of us took the grand tour. They were amazed at how dry the basements were! We did not get up the steel tower however; the bolt was cut and will be replaced with a combination lock so we never lose the key and it will be more accessible on future trips."

Ham and John laid out the trail to the west beach with wooden stick markers, and a few 'No smoking, No open flame' signs were put up.

Cathy: "Measurements were taken for the downspouts on the Assistant Keepers Quarters and the 1867 Lighthouse. After a survey of the lean-to, there was a discussion as to how to proceed. We took detail shots of the roof on the AK building - there is further plaster falling in upstairs rooms and the south side lower single apartment rot from water has not gotten any better.

We removed the wooden frames from the Boat House windows and brought them back to be rebuilt on the mainland, then reinstall. Open windows were boarded up. Measurements were taken for the back door of the Boat House. This door will be made by Ham & crew. They are also assembling the big Boat House doors - waiting for a few missing parts.

Fog continued to roll in and out during the day. Temperature on the island was perfect! Landfall in Leeland at 5:55 p.m.."

Epilogue by Ham Hobson: "The weather was great but foggy, shrouding a mysterious island in even more mystery! The Association ( FILA) has made tremendous progress on the buildings and grounds. Finding ways to overcome the monumental task of logistics, just getting people and materials to the island let alone accomplishing all the work that has been done!

Thanks FILA!"

Reports by Catherine Allchin, John Wells and Ham Hobson,
compiled by Hans Joerg Rothenberger
June 16, 2013

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Board Meeting of June 10, 2013

After approving the minutes of the previous meeting and the financial report, the Old Business section saw topics such as the Emergency Handbook (some fire extinguishers possibly supplied by the DNR), DNR Partnership Grant application (originally for the permanent crib and dock, to be transferred to other projects), plans for the permanent crib, a report covering the overhaul of the donated SlickCraft boat, fundraising ideas, event advertising, an effort to get more people to the station in order to broaden FILA's member base, and Cathy Allchin's upcoming presentation of our activities to the Michigan Waterways Commission.

Details of FILA's appearance at various summer events and Island projects including the Boat House doors were discussed. The doors will be installed by the DNR. John Wells mentioned that Cathy Firestone has a VHS cassette from the 1980s of South Fox.

The board decided that FILA join and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
July 8, 2013

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First trip of the season
(a.k.a. The Love Boat Episode)

May 26th was the first trip to South Fox Island for 2013. Co-Pilots Donald Stauffer and Phil von Voigtlander prepared the Islander and launched the boat with Catherine Allchin, Heather Landis, member of the HSR team in 2010, and her fiancé, Jordan Devries. A nice, calm day resulted in a smooth hour and a half ride out to the island. We anchored in 6 feet of water and had everyone ashore in two dingy trips.

 Dinghy on the way to the old dock
Looking for a landing spot.  

Equipment on the picnic table by the Nickerson Fire Circle
Base camp at the Nckerson Fire Circle.

We carried our supplies up to the fire pit picnic table and did a walk around the buildings. Phil and Catherine prepared a list of the day's activities. We cut grass, trimmed with the weed whacker, swept up clippings, hauled dead limbs, and cut a path from the fence of the Fog Signal tower over to the base of the tower. We put up the large ladder so Catherine could go up to the top and measure the window  for a replacement window pane. Don blazed open the path through the woods to the West beach with the whacker.

Jordan, Heather and Catherine in front of the 1867 Livhthouse.

The toilet seat in the lilac jungle
The Lilac Garden Throne, a.k.a. the outhouse without a house, still in usable condition.

1867 Lighthouse from SE
The 1867 Lighthouse seen from the SE corner of the
septic field area.

The Lighthouse structures wintered well and the crew was able to complete the grounds keeping tasks by 5:00 pm. About 45 minutes later, we had the Islander loaded for the trip back home. As we approached the boat, we noticed that it had turned into a love nest for tiny black flies. Thousands of tiny flies were over every part of the boat, dash, cockpit, floor, windows. What was the attraction for those sex starved insects? The Islander became the "Love Boat" for frantic sexual antics and then they died!  But they didn't blow away.  The carpet and dash will have to be vacuumed and cleaned again. We thought the trip home would blow them off..... but no, they stayed for the entire Love Boat cruise back to the mainland.

Cockpit coaming and seats all covered with insects.

What a mess!

Insects on the dashboard
Insects on the dashboard.

The Islander ran great and will serve as a back up boat to the donated 25' AMF Slickcraft, which should be in service for the next trip.  With two operating boats available, we hope to get more people out to see the island lighthouse project..  Once you visit, you become enthralled with the history, mystique, and lore of the past and the hope of the future.

Don Stauffer
May 29, 2013

Additional photos

Here are four panoramic photos contributed by Heather Landis (click on them to see them in higher resolution and pan around a bit -  it's worth it!):

View from SE
Approaching the Light Station from southeast.

Stone wall by the Boat House
The stone wall along the walkway on the south side of the Boat House.

Inside the lantern room of the 1934 Skeleton Tower, starring Cathy Allchin.

Stunning view from the Skeleton Tower, looking NNW.

Thank you very much Heather!

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Board Meeting of May 13, 2013

Vice President Cathy Allchin presided the meeting at the GT Children's Museum. The April minutes and the treasurer's report were presented, discussed and approved. Details of the Emergency Handbook & Crisis Management Plan were presented by John Wells, and possible ways to handle the DNR grant for the working dock were discussed.

Cathy reported on the donated EZ Dock parts and their future use, including a possible involvement of the manufacturer and the long-running issue of the Safe Harbor project. The Michigan Waterways Commission is meeting in Leelanau County on June 21. Cathy will try to get on the agenda.

After a brief update by Cathy concerning the title transfer of the Lightkeeper and the registration of the new boat, John Wells presented his plans for fundraising including small grants from local foundations. Cathy reported on the schedule of the FILA segment on the UpNorth TV channels and their availability on youtube,com.

According to John Wells, FILA received a grant from the Biederman Foundation to cover the cost of archiving the historical documents. John and Karen Wells and Cathy Allchin, with DNR rep Ham Hobson, attended the DNR Non-Profit Summit held at Higgins Lake.

Island Projects: The pending Boat House door issue was discussed, and John Wells presented a Keeper Program proposal written by his wife and a list of people interested in visiting the station. A June 21st trip is scheduled so the Michigan Waterways Commission representatives can visit the light station with DNR representatives.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
May 19, 2013

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Board Meeting of April 15, 2013

This month's meeting at the GT Children's Museum, again presided by Vice President Cathy Allchin, approved the minutes of the March meeting, the Treasurer's report including the submission of Form 990N to the IRS for 2012 and the 2013 budget compiled by Karen and John Wells.

John had sent out a one page recommendation for the updated Emergency Handbook/Crisis Management Plan. Ham Hobson, DNR representative, again kindly attending the meeting, offered to share some documentation that the DNR uses in similar situations. He said the application for the DNR Partnership Grant is on track for completion at the end of April.

Cathy reported on the meeting of FILA representatives with the DNR concerning a 25 year lease. The Board decided to have President John McKinney sign the amended lease contingent upon an inspection of the site by the DNR.

A number of EZ Dock floating dock sections have been donated to FILA. They have to be brought to the DNR office in Grawn, looked over and transported to South Fox Island. Other island projects were presented, including the Boat House doors and windows, the Volunteer Keeper Program and the DNR trip.

Participation in local and regional events was discussed, including also a summer raffle and an interview on Up North Live with the possibility to produce and broadcast a video on local cable and YouTube. John Wells suggested a summer membership drive to be held at Peterson Park south of Cathead Bay.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
April 16, 2013

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Board Meeting of March 11, 2013

FILA Vice President, Cathy Allchin presided the Board Meeting, again at the GT Children's Museum. The for the DNR Partnership Grant has been submitted to the DNR. Much appreciation and thanks go to Ham Hobson (who attended the Board Meeting) and Wendy Jo Bazzett from the Michigan DNR for their help in filling out the application. Details of the Light Station Lease draft and insurance coverage for DNR personel in accordance with the Friends Agreement, a proposed three-year contract between the DNR and FILA, were discussed, and the agreement was approved by the Board.

Technical and financial aspects of the planned service dock and the estimate provided by Home Depot concerning the materials needed to repair the lean-to attached to the 1867 Lighthouse were presented.

Archival records have been sent to the Bentley Historical Museum in Ann Arbor and the Leelanau Historical Museum and are now available for the public to view; an index will be available online to aid in research.

By the way, in 2012, 1933 hours were volunteered for our project!

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
March 12, 2013

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Board Meeting of February 11, 2013

The Board met at the GT Children's Museum. A draft of the 2013 budget distributed by Cathy Allchin, the volunteer hours sheet and the necessity to update the Board members contact sheet were discussed. Cathy reported on two presentations she gave (International Shipmasters Association and Twilight Rotary Club), and it was mentioned that archival FILA documents were packaged and sent to the University of Michigan and the Leelanau Historical Society Museum.

Cathy also presented a list of projects for the 2013 season at the Light Station. Plans for new and refurbished equipment for work at the station, the construction of a service dock and a possible DNR visit to the island were outlined. Legal aspects of the Light Station Lease draft and insurance based on the current lease were discussed.

Home Depot has agreed to help estimate the materials needed to stabilize the Lean-To attached to the 1867 Lighthouse, knowing that materials will not be purchased at Home Depot as FILA must use materials deemed appropriate in the Historic Structures Report.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
March 11, 2013

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SlickCraft Boat Donation!

Arrow Roofing and Supply of Grand Rapids and Traverse City has donated a 25ft AMF SlickCraft inboard/outboard (sterndrive) boat to FILA. The boat has large open aft area and a 9 ½ ft beam. This will make for a perfect boat for hauling volunteers, camp gear, supplies, construction material and other goods to the island. The boat has a good engine and will serve us well. Now to outfit the boat with required USCG safety items and other necessary equipment.

Thank you Arrow Roofing & Supply for getting us on the water and to South Fox this season and many more to come.

Donated Slickcraft boat
The new boat on her trailer.

Boat from behind
 View from behind.

Cathy and John at the stern
Inspection by FILA Vice President Cathy Allchin and President John McKinney.

John Wells
February 18, 2013

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FILA's historical material available to the public

After several months of planning, organizing, copying, and indexing the records, photos, newspaper articles, oral histories, and other historical material about the Light Station, this material is now available to the public. The Bentley Historical Library on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Leelanau Historical Society Museum in Leland, Michigan now have hundreds of pages of historical data available to the public.

Researchers, historians, educators, writers and the general public are invited to check on line at the respective institution for an index to the material. Please check with each of the two facilities to view policies and procedures to access the material.

John Wells
February 18, 2013

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A Presidential Birthday

A milestone was recently celebrated for our President, John McKinney. We won't mention that special age he just reached but all that know him are ever so happy as he is in great health, and an example for many far younger than him!

On January 27, we all (that could make it) met at Sleder's Tavern in downtown Traverse City, the restaurant that is famous for it's "Kiss the Moose" logo, though we could not persuade John to do so!

From left to right: Board member Sandy Bradshaw,  FILA member (and right-hand man of many board members) John Wells, his wife, Karen, FILA Prez John, his wife Anne, Vice-President Catherine Allchin, FILA member John Tremblay and FILA friend Robert Barker.

John unwrapping presents
The birthday child unwrapping presents under the eyes of Robert Barker. 

John and Anne McKinney
 Anne and John McKinney.

Happy Birthday and congratulations! And thanks for all you have done and continue to do for that lighthouse we all love.

Sandy Bradshaw
February 3, 2013

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Board Meeting of January 14, 2013

The FILA Board met at the GT Children's Museum. After the Treasurer's financial report, the Board discussed the basics of the 2013 budget. The 2012 year end statement and operating statement by Karen Wells were accepted. The Year End Appeal neatly met its financial goal and even resulted in a few new FILA members. The group now has about 160 members.

The Board discussed the necessity to compile an Emergency Handbook / Crisis Management Plan, i.e. how to handle media and others in the unfortunate event an accident on the light station happens. The handbook will have emergency procedures as well as suggestions on how to respond to crises as they arise.

Plans for how to operate the now three (!) boats that are available for FILA were outlined. The Archival project, managed by John Wells, is moving along.  John distributed a required  list of data groupings of FILA archival materials.  These will be sent to the Bentley Historic Library and the Leland History Museum.

Phil von Voigtlander's Volunteer Keeper Program proposal was approved. Dan Mullen, the DNR district chief, proposed a visit to the light station in 2013. The DNR will supply the boats and organize the trip. FILA may partner with the DNR to do something on DNR property.  FILA board members should propose a project that ranges from $5,000 - $20,000 to qualify for DNR grant money. John McKinney will forward the information to the Board for review and suggestions.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
January 27, 2013

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Earlier News articles are available in the Archives section.




Latest update December 7, 2013