Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wild Goose Chase

Every lighthouse has a story. Some have a million of 'em.
Take West Chop Lighthouse on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, for instance.
Octave Ponsart was the keeper at West Chop from 1946-1957. Also with Ponsart was his family, wife Emma and daughters Bette and Seamond.
The following story is from an article written by Seamond (Ponsart) Roberts on the website ( is a website dedicated to U. S. Coast Guard history recounted by those who lived it.)

By Seamond (Ponsart) Roberts

I was the lighthouse keeper's daughter on West Chop Lighthouse from 1946-1957, where my dad, Octave Ponsart, was the head keeper. Located on Martha's Vineyard Island in Massachusetts, this was a prime tourist spot in the summer, but in the winter all by itself in the middle of a summer' person's colony area, it got kind of lonely and isolated too.
We had animals to kind of fill in the social gaps this creates. Oh, I had, dogs, cats, chickens -- lots of them -- but one time we had the opportunity to acquire two geese and we thought this would be a welcome addition to our little menagerie and give us some additional amusement too. Well, Lucy and Goosey were big white geese and turned out to be very bossy and "argued" so much between themselves and chased anyone who showed up around the lighthouse that they were really the winged pariahs of the station.
We had them for about three years and I must admit they chased off most of the summer tourists quite well.
Each fall they would honk at their wild cousin buddies and flap their wings and threaten flight. Dad would clip back their wings and the most flight they would achieve was a sideways airborneness of about five feet in the air, come crashing to the ground, and then go off honking and complaining.
After their many unsuccessful attempts at this, we figured they never would really fly. However, one spring day, the wild geese over head, I guess something went "spong" in their little pea brains and before we knew it, they did a long take off running the length of the two houses, flapping frantically, and sailing right over the bluff into the water -- Vineyard Sound!
My mother was frantic. There was a strong tide running and we figured the next stop for Lucy and Goosey was Spain! Dad launched the dory and rowed toward them, but they got caught in the strong tide and were really heading east very swiftly. As luck would have it, the Menemsha Coast Guard Station boat crew was having a practice run and they saw our hapless birds. Someone said, "I bet that's the Ponsart's geese!" (They were pretty well known as the "Nasty West Chop Poultry."
Well, our good buddies, the Coast Guardsmen scooped them up from a certain watery death and delivered them back to us. The Chief on delivering them up to us said, "Well, we've been on wild goose chases before . . . but not where we actually caught two geese who went wild."
We all had a good laugh on that and Lucy and Goosey returned to the pen, never again to be tempted to go AWOL.
While the names Goosey and Lucy are feminine, by the time we found out they were ganders, it was too late to change them - I can safely say that they were probably the most notorious and the only ganders ever to roam West Chop Light.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lighthouse Webcams

Sometimes I'm stuck in the office working and get a hankering to see what's going on within the outside world. My colleagues at The Cape Cod have come up with a list, (this may be a partial list, if anyone out there knows of any more, please forward us the url), of lighthouse webcams. Many of these give an excellent view into the workings of harbors, etc., and provide a little distraction from the sometimes hectic world all of us live in.

*NOTE~~Most webcams require either Quick Time player, Flash, Java, or REAL Player

Cape Hatteras, NC~~Perhaps the best known lighthouse webcam from the most recognizable lighthouse in America. Provided by the National Park Service.

Brant Point, MA~~Nantucket Harbor. Provided by

Portland Head, ME~~View of harbor from the lighthouse. Provided by Portland Head Lighthouse.

Goat Island, ME~~Excellent view of the lighthouse. Provided by The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust.

Muskegon, MI South Breakwater, Muskegon South Pierhead~~Both show excellent views of each lighthouse. Provided by Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Grand Haven, MI~~Updates every 10 minutes. View of both pier lighthouses.

Granite Island, MI~~9 different camera views around the newly restored lighthouse and light station. Provided by the Granite Island Light Station website.

Duluth, MN Pierhead Lights~~Great resolution! Shot of both lights and Duluth harbor. Provided by Lake Superior Marine Museum Association. Refreshes every 30 seconds.

Craigville Rear Range , MD~~Scroll down the provided page to find the webcam. Provided by Miller's Island Weather Station.

Ocean City, MD~~View from atop Life Saving Station. Provided by WBOC-TV 16 and the Municipality of Ocean City

Mendota, MI~~Updates every 15 minutes. Provided by Mendota Lighthouse.

Fort Gratiot, MI~~View from the top of the lighthouse, (slightly distorted). Provided by USACE Engineer Research and Development Center.

Heceta Head, OR~~Updated every 15 minutes. Provided by Sea Lion Caves.

Mull of Galloway, U.K.~~8 different cameras provide a fascinating high resolution view of the lighthouse and surrounding area. Continuous feed, so there's no waiting to refresh a new scene. Provided by European Region Development Fund.

Leasowe, U. K.~~View from top of lighthouse. Refreshes every 60 seconds. Provided by Friends of Leasowe Lighthouse.

Cape Fisterra, Spain~~View of lighthouse from Hotel El Semáforo.

Baltic Sea in Rostock Warnemuende, Germany - View from Hotel Hübner

Hoernum, Germany ~~Lighthouse is in distance. Provided by

Lindaur, Germany ~~view of lighthouse and "Old World" harbor.

Eagle Harbor, MI~~View of Lake Superior from top of lighthouse. Provided by Cable America.

Point Lonsdale, Melbourne, Australia~~Four cameras showing entrance to Melbourne Harbor. Provided by Port of Melbourne.

St. John's, N.B., Canada~~Views of St. John's, the Narrows and the Harbour from Signal Hill

Hilton Head, NC~~View from top of Harbour Town Lighthouse. Provided by Top of the Lighthouse Shoppe.

St. Joseph, MI~~Provided by WNDU-TV 16

Rockland Breakwater, ME~~View of lighthouse. Must be manually refreshed. Provided by Village Soup Newspaper.

Fredericton, NB, Canada~~A view from the lighthouse. Provided by City of Fredricton.

Point Vicente, CA~~View of lighthouse and surrounding area. Manually updates every 5 minutes.Provided by Jankees and Associates.

Chebucto Head, Halifax, NS~~View of lighthouse and Halifax harbor. Provided by City of Halifax.

Kincardine, Ontario~~Two views from top of lighthouse. Provided by Kincardine Yacht Club.

Positano, Italy~~Beautiful view of old cliff town and Galli's Island.

Wood Island, ME~~Continuing stream view of lighthouse and surrounding beach. Excellent resolution. Provided by Wood Island Lighthouse.

Hoburg, Sweden~~Personal weather cam provided by

Peggy's Cove, N.S.~~Real-time view of lighthouse. Excellent camera provided by Sou'Wester Restaurant and Gift Shop