Boarding the boat, The Hope, we set off on a three hour tour (not kidding) and got to hear every manner of Gilligan’s Island jokes. We passed right under the Mackinac Bridge heading off to the west to see the lighthouses that keep the ships, to this day, in safe waters. I had not realized that each lighthouse is built to look different and each signal deviates slightly so that mariners will know where they are in the waters.
The cars and semis passing overhead looked more like Matchbox cars two hundred feet above us. Our cruise host from the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association described the engineer and this new kind of suspension bridge which is really anchored in huge cement caissons in the water.
The weather turned rough and the mighty ship was tossed! We rode the top of white cap waves, crashing down into the four and five foot wells. Most of the passengers headed below, but a couple of us remained up top. I knew if I went down below in that kind of rough water, I’d be crawling out when we returned to shore. I hung on and let the wind and rain buffet me all they wanted in exchange for keeping my stomach where it was supposed to be. It was such a great experience and adventure.
St. Helena Island Lighthouse ended up sheltering us from the storm in her cove on the south side of the island. Darkening skies and lightning striking made me glad for this cover and her light was activated due to the steel grey clouds and fog. Our guide shared with us that volunteer opportunities are available on this island as well as at many other lighthouses in their keep.
I hadn’t realized either, that many lighthouses are anchored out in the water and are not on land at all. This beauty required a four man crew, with three men on rotating shifts while the fourth had shore leave. This was your home for three full weeks and then you got a week off. We were told it was rather difficult and dull. I thought it sounded like paradise, especially for a writer.