Prince Rupert Yacht and Rowing Club’s building will soon have a shining light as its finishing touch.
The club recently installed a decommissioned light beacon that was in service on Bonilla Island for more than 40 years.
The beacon had reached the end of its service life, and was destined for disposal. However, Jack Payne, one of the club’s board members, approached the Canadian Coast Guard to ask that it be preserved as a historical piece.
“It’s interesting to have a piece of this history preserved at the club,” he said.
John Green, a retired Coast Guard officer who oversaw the beacon’s decommissioning, transport and installation, said he welcomed the idea to help maintain the legacy of marine operations on the northwest coast.
“They’re a dinosaur of a light, and it usually costs us more to scrap it than it does to donate it,” Green said. “And I thought ‘Well this would be a good donation for somebody in town here whether it went to the yacht club or the museum or someone else.”
Green said transporting the beacon involved dismantling and removing the glass covering surrounding the light, using a helicopter to hoist the light from the old tower to a barge where it was shipped to Prince Rupert.
“We used a specialized helicopter to do it,” Green said. “We had to disconnect it all, pull all the wiring and pull everything out of there and then go out and remove it.”
Once the light arrived at the yacht club, it was lifted once again and installed at the top of a tower on top of the building.
Payne said new LED lights will be retrofitted to the beacon that will allow it to function as more of a streetlight. Also, it will not spin as that could be confusing to incoming vessels. The club will also install a plaque to acknowledge its history when the building is complete.
“Everybody seemed pretty excited about not seeing go into the junk heap,” Payne said. “It’s a real thing so it’s been positively received.”
Green said it felt good for him to play a small part in preserving some northwest marine coast history. He has completed similar projects in the past and likes to acknowledge the officers who helped build the infrastructure that has, in some cases, lasted for more than half a century.
“I like to see that promoted so people can say ‘Hey I was a part of that’,” he said. “There are a lot of people who have worked for the Coast Guard over the years.”