Ned’s Point tours begin for summer 2019

Jun 15, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — Jeff Caton has been photographing and drawing pictures of the lighthouse at Ned’s Point since he was in high school, but on Tuesday June 11, the day before his 53rd birthday, he saw his old subject from a new angle.

Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel will give tours of the lighthouse throughout the course of the summer. Two members of Flotilla 63 stand by during tour hours to guide visitors up the 32 granite steps, and seven foot ladder to the lamp room, and provide information on the history of the lighthouse.

For artists like Caton, these tours provide an opportunity to see a popular landmark from the inside. For years, he has drawn pencil sketches from cell phone photos of the lighthouse and surrounding beach. He scrolled through his phone to show tour guide and Vice Commander of Flotilla 63 Jane Ulewicz images of sunsets and storm clouds forming in the distance behind the lighthouse.

Caton says he studies the photos for up to an hour, and then flips over his phone or other reference material to draw his sketch from memory. He said some of his drawings replicate the original photo with 95 percent accuracy.

Despite having a long-standing appreciation for the lighthouse, this was the first time Caton stepped foot inside and climbed up to take pictures from atop the 39-foot tower.

Caton wasn’t the only Mattapoisett resident to get a new look at the lighthouse. Erin Costa said she lives right down the street from Ned’s Point and sees it from the outside on a regular basis. She brought her 8-year-old daughter Madeline for a chance to explore and learn about history.

Elissa Heard of Wareham also climbed to the top, and pointed out her house in the distance.

Tour guide Sal Giglia waited at the top of the lighthouse to help visitors and make sure they are safe. “It’s very difficult to transact the curves and the manholes to come in,” he said.

As guests climbed the ladder he instructed them to step on each rung with the arch of the foot to avoid slipping, and guided them through the narrow opening. After allowing guests to enjoy the view and ask questions, he then showed them how to activate the 250 watt halogen lamp that flashes for three seconds on, and three seconds off.

Giglia also said that the lighthouse will be renovated “from top to bottom” in the coming months. The tower’s interior walls will be scraped and painted for a smoother finish. The metal railings and all other brass and metal fillings will be scraped, primed and painted. The staircase will be cleaned carefully to avoid disturbing the sand in between the granite stairs.

The interior of the lamp room will be painted, and the glass panels surrounding the lamp room will be repaired or replaced. Currently there are several impact marks on the glass from what Giglia believes to be BB guns. Coast Guard Auxiliary Personnel have not been able to identify who vandalized the lighthouse.

According to Bill Cody, Navigations Officer of Flotilla 63, labor will be provided by prison inmates in the Plymouth County Sheriff’s dept. Community Work Crew Service Program. Cody said he took inspiration from a similar program in Barnstable County several years ago when he saw inmates working on a roof, while he was visiting the Eagles Club in Buzzards Bay.

Dates for the inmate reatoration work can not be disclosed for security reasons, but Giglia said that they will begin on the lighthouse’s interior soon and start working on the exterior by the fall. Cody said he hopes to have the restoration project completed by July of 2020.

Tours will be held Tuesday, June 18 and 25 from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. Thursday June 13 and 27 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday June 21 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Schedules may vary based on weather and availability of Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel. Children must be at least 48 inches tall to climb to the top of the lighthouse.