Home ] [ Our Lights ] [ Who We Are ] [ Join Us ] [ Tours ] [ Foundation Merchandise ] [ Photo Gallery ] [ News Archives ] [ Light List ]

Celebrate the 
Summer Holidays
With an America Flag
Flown at Harbor of Refuge Light Station

Available just in time for this summer's patriotic celebrations.

Also great gifts for Father's Day,
birthdays, and other occasions..

Three-foot by five-foot nylon American Flags with a handsome parchment paper Certificate of Authenticity.  Just like the one in the picture below. 

Click here for details and order form.

Posted 19 June 2009

Volunteers on the June 13 work trip take a lunch break in front of the new door at Harbor of Refuge.  Left to right: back row -- Mark Lizzi; middle row: Red Moulinier, Belzona tech rep Vince Brady, new volunteer Geri Gaskill, Ruth Africa, Dave Lowe, John Gordon; front row: Jerry Perrin and Charley Podedworny.

Finally!  New Door Opens 2009 Tour Season

The 2009 summer season at Harbor of Refuge Light Station will begin with a bang – the sound of the closing and opening of the new watertight door now protecting the offshore structure.

The door was installed on the lighthouse by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during late May, successfully completing the most difficult part of an 18-month joint project between the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation and the Corps to fund, design, fabricate, deliver and install the massive new entry.

The entire doorway system, which weighs more than 800 pounds, consists of the door, its frame, and a surrounding patch for badly rusted sections of the lighthouse caisson which had to be cut away.   It was fabricated by the Marine Division of Railway Specialties Corp. of Bristol, PA, especially for the lighthouse, but is similar to doors the firm fabricates for use on U.S. naval vessels.

“This was a challenging project that required ingenuity and persistence from everyone – plus some help from people who wouldn’t ordinarily have been involved in such a project,” according to Judith Roales, president of the Lighthouse Foundation.  “From the beginning, it had hurdles and setbacks, so we’re are really thrilled to finally have the door up.  We’re grateful to everybody involved.”

Troubles began last year when the Foundation was unable to find a company to take on the work.  “The job was too big and complex for area welders and metal works,” Roales said, “but too small to interest bigger companies, like shipyards.”

However, the Corps of Engineers came to the rescue and through its contacts had the door made by Railway Specialties.  The company took a real interest in the project and gave the Corps quick turnaround on the work to meet the deadline for planned installation last September.  But that wasn’t to be.  Late summer storms destroyed  the landing dock at the lighthouse and diverted Corps work crews to emergency repairs elsewhere. 

The door was stored in a Corps warehouse over the winter, and preparation for the installation began again this spring.   Foundation volunteers installed a temporary landing deck three times the normal size to make plenty of work space, but the biggest question was how to get the massive doorway onto the light station.

Delaware Bay and River Co-op, the oil spill cleanup consortium, offered to help, and officials from DBRC, the Corps, and the Foundation made a trial run in the oil boom deployment boat  DelRiver  to test using its onboard crane to lift the door from the boat to the lighthouse. 

“It was a good idea,” Roales said, “but unfortunately, the DelRiver was too big a boat.”  It couldn’t get close enough to the lighthouse because of the breakwater stones and it couldn’t be held steady long enough in the complex currents to risk swinging the door over the open water with the crane.

“We’d never worked with DBRC before, and we’re pleased they were willing to try to help,” Roales said.  “We hope there will be other opportunities for our organizations to cooperate.”

The delivery issue was finally solved by Delaware Bay Launch Service, the company that provides transportation to the lighthouse for the Foundation’s regular summer tours.  Using a crane at their base in Slaughter Beach, launch crews and Corps workers put the doorway pieces and a small Kubota front end loader onto their largest launch and sailed both to Harbor of Refuge.  There the pieces were lifted onto the landing deck using the front end loader and muscled the rest of the way to the base of the lighthouse with pure man power.

“I’m sure there were some sore arms and backs that night,” Roales said, “but the launch service always goes the extra mile for us and this was a perfect example of the kind of service they always give us.”

Even then, bad weather interfered again and the door sat at the lighthouse only partially installed for more than a week before workers were able to return. 

Then there was the task of cutting and drilling the cast iron caisson, which proved to be well over two inches thick.  Tools overheated and bits broke.  That’s how maintenance and engineering folks at the Lewes ferry terminal became involved -- providing tool support.

Then suddenly, it was finished.  Late on the afternoon of May 18, Charles Myers, the Corps’ Harbor of Refuge project director, notified the Foundation that the door was fully installed and fully functioning.  Keys to the new door were delivered the next morning just in time for a special tour scheduled by the Southern Delaware Tourism office for participants in a conference of the Mid-Atlantic Travel and Public Relations Association.

“The old door had leaked badly and was weak from rust and attempts to break in,” Roales recalled.  “We worried a lot about water damage and about vandals getting inside.  But now the lighthouse is truly secure.”

The next step in the project will be to resurface the interior of the caisson surrounding the door and the two-foot thick passageway through the concrete block lining.  That work, using a Belzona epoxy product began during the June 13 work trip.  Belzona tech rep Vince Brady was on hand to train volunteers and oversee the initial applications.

Meanwhile, Roales said, tour participants who have never seen the lighthouse before will hardly be aware there is a new doorway.  Although the technology and materials of the new door are thoroughly modern, she explained, to the untrained eye it hardly looks any different than the old door.  The historic appearance of the lighthouse has been preserved.

New Agreement with Lewes Chamber of Commerce
Helps You Save $$ on Merchandise Purchases

When you buy any Foundation merchandise through our online catalogue, you can now opt to pickup your purchases at the Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Lewes and avoid shipping costs.

Click here to see the catalogue.

2009 Work Trip Volunteers Needed

The Foundation is seeking volunteers who will join other volunteers on several work dates this summer.  Three dates have already been scheduled so that potential workers can make a commitment now:

Saturday, August 8

There probably will also be several trips in May mid to late September for which dates have not been set.

New volunteers who want to join in the preservation work at Harbor of Refuge are encouraged to contact the Foundation for more information.

Call 302-644-7046 to leave your name and contact information.

2009 Tour Schedule

Saturday, June  27, 11 am--sold out!
Saturday, July 25, 10 am--
sold out!
Saturday, August 22, 9 am--
sold out!
Saturday, September 12, noon 

As in previous years, all tours will go to both Harbor of Refuge and Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouses and will leave as close to mid-day as tides allow. 

Prices will will remain $75 for non-members and $65 for members unless there is a drastic increase in costs.

Please click [Tours] here for more details.   

Call 302-644-7046 to make reservations.

Lest You Forget How Important
Lighthouse Preservation Is,
Buy a Piece of the Old Door

The Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation has set aside pieces from the old doorway that was removed from Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse for sale as fundraising reminders of how badly preservation is needed at America's lighthouses.

The small rusted iron pieces are mounted on wooden plaques with a padded black backing.  A gold foil sticker on the backing reads: "This is a genuine piece of the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse main door replaced in May 2009."  The Foundation's certificate of authenticity, with before and after door pictures, is included.

Small plaques, measuring about 3 x 5 or 4 X 4 inches depending on the shape, are $10 plus shipping; medium plaques, measuring 5 x 5 or    5 x 7 inches, are $15 plus shipping.  Shipping is $4.95 by Priority Mail.  But remember, if you are in the southern Delaware area, you can opt to pick up your purchase at the Lewes Chamber of Commerce and avoid shipping costs.

Click here for the order form.  

130This web site is maintained by Delaware Quilts