A Rare Opportunity to Tour the Thomas Point Shoal LIghthouse

On the last weekend in September, my sister and I went on one of the few tours offered every year to the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. I mean, not just a victory lap around the outside like countless folks in their boats, but get off the boat and climb up through the hatches to the outside deck and go inside.

It was too cool an opportunity to pass up.

As I initially wrote the draft blog, Hurricane Joaquin was forecasted to grow into a Level 3 hurricane and head straight up the Chesapeake Bay.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Another hurricane season survived!

Built in 1875 and now a National Historic Landmark, Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse is the last of its kind left in its original location.

A photo of the lighthouse from the 1890s. Note that there is no platform below the lighthouse cottage.

For those who follow the blog, you’ll recognize Captain Mike and his vessel, the Sharpes Island. We first met Captain Mike during the Passage to Five cruise offered by Chesapeake Lights to see five lighthouses in the north part of the bay. We so enjoyed that day trip that we immediately signed up for the 2-day excursion to see 11 lighthouses in the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay, appropriately entitled Southern Expedition. The National Lighthouse Society hired Captain Mike to take us on the 30-minute ride between Annapolis and the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse.

On the way out we enjoyed seeing the U.S. Naval Academy sailing school, as well as another group of sailboats. It’s part of the sights of the northern Chesapeake Bay. We also enjoyed seeing numerous other sail boats and yachts on the ride.

Waves were a little choppy that day, but we easily docked at the lighthouse and climbed the 7-step ladder to the first platform underneath the lighthouse. With the breezes and the shade, I was thinking it was the perfect place to hang a hammock and read a book, or go to sleep. I even day dreamed a little about a lovely vacation doing just that! But according to the docent, the lightkeepers stored fuel for the light and their stoves, as well as other supplies, on the platform. So much for my day dream! The platform also offered a close look at the screwpile construction of the lighthouse platform.

Detail of the screwpile base of the lighthouse.

The lighthouse is a work in progress. Currently local volunteers are in the process of restoring (and maintaining) the lighthouse. One room in the lighthouse was filled with all the equipment you’d need to finish any home construction project; paint (probably lead paint at that) peeled from the ceiling and walls. This is what the lighthouse used to look like inside. I appreciated being able to see it this way, and compare it to the rest of the rooms, most of which have been restored to either the late 1890s condition or to reflect the Coast Guard period of the 1950s.

The lighthouse is unique in that most screwpile lighthouse cottages only have 4 dormer windows, versus Thomas Shoal’s six. Whether you visit on boat or tour the building, you can appreciate Victorian touches such as the lovely outside railing.

The kitchen, restored to the 1890s period (although much work
still needs to be done, including finding a era-authentic stove.)

The second floor of the lighthouse cottage. 

Getting there: The tours left from a dock is located at waters edge behind the Annapolis Maritime Museum located at 723 2nd St Annapolis, MD 21403. The vessel Sharps Island will be moored at the closest pier to the Horn Point Marina.

Website: The tours were offered through the U.S. Lighthouse Society at www.uslhs.org

Check out the blog’s FB page for updates on places we’ve visited and blogged about: facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Email [email protected] if you’re interested in being a guest-blogger!