Posts Tagged ‘Block Island’

East End Lighthouses of Long Island Sound

September 1, 2010

One of the most important and relevant features usually portrayed on a sea chart is the Lighthouse.  The lighthouses of America are well documented and many have played their part in the birth of the nation and the struggles with the British in particular.  The lighthouses of the east end of Long Island sound around Block Island, Fisher Island, Gardner Island, Connecticut and Long Island itself are no exception.

On this previously unseen chart of 1813, surveyed and drawn during the British blockade of the sound throughout the 1812-15 war the Lighthouses each have a story to tell.  In the first two instances the Lightouses in question were apparently more valuable strategically with their light extinguised than they were lit!

The lighthouse on Little Gull island overlooked naval activities between the Americans and the British in the vicinity of ‘the Race’.  It was constructed in 1806 and was 51ft high.  The light on the tower was forceably removed by British marines on the instructions of Sir Charles Hardy, commander of the British squadron patrolling the sound in 1813, after the lighthouse keeper, Giles Holt, refused to extinguish it.

The New London harbour lighthouse depicted at the mouth of the Connecticut River, south of New London, was constructed in 1801 and stood 89ft.  The octagonal brownstone tower still stands and is the oldest existing lighthouse in Connecticut.  This light was extinguished during the War of 1812, this time at the request of the American Commander, Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr., who spent most of the war confined, along with his fleet, by the British in the Connecticut River. 

The East-end lighthouses depicted on the Heritage Charts chart A211 also include the construction on Watch Hill Pt. and Montauc Pt. both of which share the history of the region.

The light at Watch Hill (‘Watchill’) Point was reputedly first established to warn local residents of attack from the sea, not as an aid to navigation.  The lighthouse depicted here, an 81ft wooden tower, came into operation in 1808.  It was Rhode Island’s second lighthouse.  During his 27 year incumbency, lighthouse keeper Jonathan Nash, recorded 47 wrecks.

Finally, the lightouse on Montauk (‘Montuc’) Point was completed and came into operation in 1796 and was the first public works project of the United States of America.  It is alleged that the infamouse pirate Captain Kidd buried treasure at the ‘money ponds’ near where the lighthouse was built nearly a hundred years later.  Maybe!…

For the complete chart please visit our main website at:

For more detailed information on the lighthouses of the east end of Long Island Sound I strongly suggest that you follow this link:


New – Chart of Block Island, Gardner Island, Fisher Island Sound c1813.

August 6, 2010

After much ‘ear-bashing’ at both the New York and New England Boat shows earlier this year, for not having a chart of Long Island Sound and Block, Gardner and Fisher Islands in particular, Heritage Charts are delighted to be able to unveil this unique and historic chart of the Anglo-American war of 1812 -1815. 

The chart is on first appearance very simple, almost unfinished but it includes some fascinating detail and remarks…

Isn’t it just so reassuring that it’s not just yacht club members who hit things and run aground!

The chart tells the story of the British blockade of Long Island Sound during 1813 prior to the subsequent bombardment of the town of Stonnington by four British warships commanded by Sir Thomas Hardy (previously Nelson’s Flag Captain on board the HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar and recipient of the famous request; “Kiss me Hardy!”).

And just for the lady who bent my ear the most at the NY boat show… here’s a snippet of Block Island from the chart….

…. Where, in 1699 Captain Kidd is reputed to have spent a month prior to his capture in Boston.

…. Also where the British fleet (reputedly) did their laundry in 1812

Note the 74 gun, ship of the line HMS Ramillies (1763-1850), which appears on the main chart, at anchor,  no less than 6 times.

This chart will be published in full on the main Heritage Charts web-site: shortly, along with a full history.

%d bloggers like this: