Happy 2021 everyone! What a challenging year 2020 was to say the least. I think we are all ready to move forward. Hopefully, this update finds you all heathy and prosperous. Spring is finally approaching, and I look forward to getting out to the lights again in 2021. Here is a review of our activities for 2020.
We made our first trip of the season out to the lights on April 8th. The lights themselves came through the winter in good shape. However, our fence and sheds have been taking a beating from the high-water levels. It was wonderful to get out to the island, since by April we were all anxiously watching the spread of the Global COVID-19 pandemic. I was planning to spend every possible moment at the lights since they represented ‘normal’ to me. Just two days later on April 10th, motorized boating was restricted in Michigan and my activities had to cease. It was not until late May that the restriction was lifted, and we could return to the lights. I do not want to dwell on the COVID-19 crisis, but it will forever be a part of our history, and it made an impact on our progress with lighthouse maintenance. The last few years, near record water levels have presented a challenge. Levels have been running less than two feet below the seawall cap, so every time we get significant waves our fence and sheds get pounded by the force of the water. The waves scatter 6-7 inch rocks that we installed around the perimeter to prevent erosion. Our tool shed floor joists got lifted off the mounting bracket, and it is in danger of being washed away. It has moved about two feet from the original position. We used chain hoists and cables to try and get it back in place. We were able to move it but not entirely back into position. We will need a barge to complete the job. We ran cable around the shed and mounted it to the seawall to secure it. We are certainly hopeful that it makes it through the winter. On a positive note, we were able to install pilings on both the North and South side of the island to make docking much safer.
We had to wrap up our Lighthouse work for the season in late November. We took the last trip on November 28th. We battened down everything for the Winter and said goodbye to the lights until Spring. Even with the challenges presented by COVID-19, we logged 58 hours of onsite volunteer time in 2020.
So, what can we expect for the 2021 season? I think there is some good news for water levels in 2021. The Corps of Engineers in their February report predict a range that would represent a drop of about 7-8 inches from the last two years. This is further supported by the relatively light snowfall in the Lake Superior region this winter. This would bring much needed relief to our waterfront neighbors and spare us from the damage that we have been experiencing at the lights. As always, we will deal with whatever mother nature throws at us and continue our work as soon as the Spring thaw comes. We appreciate the support of our volunteers and fans of the South Channel Lights!
SOSCL Vice President & Keeper of the Lights