The Gay Head Cliffs in the town of Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard are so spectacular that they make it to the bucket list. It's no wonder that Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The beach near the lighthouse was featured in the movie, "Jaws." There's a shot of the lighthouse in the movie.
By happy circumstance, I was visiting Martha's Vineyard when they were moving the lighthouse. It was in danger of falling off the magnificent cliffs.
Moving it was nothing short of a miracle. The lighthouse was put on a track to move it to a safe place. What a feat. After cheers and champagne, the Gay Head Advisory Committee got a list of more needed repairs.
This is not the first time the lighthouse was moved. After being completed in November 1779, lighthouse was first moved in 1844.
After a short boat ride, I arrived at Anclote Key State Preserve and debarked at the pristine beach. A scenic nature trail to Anclote Key Lighthouse. I drew several sketches and took photographs of the fuel house before scaling the 102 foot lighthouse. The steel framed lighthouse offered a panoramic view of the tiny pristine island. I was delighted to be able visit during the reopening.
When I painted the lighthouse I thought about the signs that I had read along the nature trail. They warned that Florida’s natural habitat was being endangered by invasive erotics. These erotics endanger the vibrant ecosystem that supports some of Florida’s great wildlife, such as manatees, sea turtles and shore birds. This inspired me to used green in the painting to symbolize Florida’s lush natural habitat and to add a few palms trees that were prevalent on the island. The swaying palms seem to protect the lighthouse from the invasive erotics.
Anclote is the Spanish word for anchor. The lighthouse was built in 1887. The tower was fabricated in the north and shipped to the island. It took just three months to assemble it. (www.lighthousefriends.com)
My trip to Amelia Island Lighthouse reminded me of playing “peekaboo” with my children. The impossible task of hiding behind a mere pair of hands came to mind as we were driving in circles trying to find a 67 feet tall lighthouse. It seemed like there was a decision to make the lighthouse inaccessible and hidden.
Surely this caper was a ploy by the US Coast Guard and the upscale neighborhood to keep visitors at a minimum. True to form the were no directional signs for getting to the lighthouse. The GPS was cahoots with their plan and proved useless in the search. Still the paper map indicated the lighthouse was nearby.
Finally, after noticing a narrow unmarked road, my sister and I discovered the beautiful lighthouse at the road’s end. The lighthouse stood on a peak behind a forest of trees. I breathed a sigh of relief and enjoyed a dose of Florida sunshine and blue skies.
In the painting above, the Amelia Island Lighthouse is camouflaged. This contradicts the mission of a lighthouse. It sole purpose is to be seen.
When I am not traveling to or painting lighthouses, I am writing or researching lighthouses.