The Pursuit of Happiness is Written in Our DNA 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal by their Creator, that they are endowed with certain inalienable Rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

Amelia Island Lighthouse

I traveled less than 2 hours to paint my first lighthouse.

Lofty words from the US Constitution. I read somewhere that the “Pursuit of Happiness” is written in Americans’ DNA—we are wired never to be content. To always be grasping for something more, is this the American Dream? Or perhaps it is the foundation of our capitalist society. Or maybe it is what propels that American spirit within us to achieve the greater good. 

Trinity Lightship in London.

I journeyed to London to paint this lightship.

I thought of this recently as I prepared for my Retrospective Exhibit called the “Pursuit of Happiness.” Sometimes times we are like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz looking for happiness in distant places. But often our happiness is found within arms reach or by the click of two heels. I’ve traveled the world pursuing happiness only to find it eluding me. Now, however I’ve discovered that for me happiness is simplicity. It is a life devoid of the distractions of consumerism and just simply pursuing God, serving others and quietly dipping my brush in paint. 


Sunken Lightship emerges as Restaurant

The Frying Pan Lightship.

The Frying Pan Lightship is a National Landmark.

The story of Frying Pan Lightship reads like a mystery novel with many twists and turns. After sinking twice and laying submerged for 3 years who would have thought it would end being part of a popular restaurant in Manhattan?

The lightship is docked near Pier 66.

The Frying Pan Lightship is docked at Pier 66.

Like all Lightships the Frying Pan is a floating lighthouse built to withstand storms and dangers like hurricanes. Yet it was the sad fate of the Frying Pan Lightship to survive World War II and Hurricane Donna in 1960 only to lay submerged for three years before finding new life in New York. How did all this happen? 

A view of the Frying Pan Lightship.

A view of the Frying Pan Lightship.

Light Vessel #115 or the Frying Pan Lightship was built in 1929 to help vessels avoid the treacherous Frying Pan Shoals near Cape Fear, North Carolina. The shoals are sandbars that look like long handed frying pans. 

A view of the lightship from the restaurant.

A glimpse of the lightship from Pier 66 Maritime Restaurant.

The Frying Pan Lightship stayed at Cape Fear for several decades. It left briefly to serve during World War II near the Panama Canal. After several years, the lightship was replaced in 1964 by a light tower and then sailed to Cape May, New Jersey to serve as a relief lightship. 

Two years later it was donated as surplus by the Coast Guard to a maritime museum in Southport, North Carolina. When the museum fell on hard times, the lightship sank at the dock. The lightship eventually was refloated and moved to Whitehaven, Maryland. 

After a pipe burst, the lightship sank again and was submerged for three years. Down but not out, the Frying Pan Lightship was bought, salvaged and restored. The lightship then was dry docked in Baltimore and eventually taken to Philadelphia. The lightship sailed to New York where it now serves alongside a restaurant.

A Marvel of Human Ingenuity 

West Rathlin Lighthouse.

West Rathlin Lighthouse was built with beacon below the tower.

The upside down lighthouse on Rathlin Island in Ireland is a marvel of human ingenuity. Unlike most lighthouses, the Keepers at West Rathlin Lighthouse had to climb down to the light. The Commissioners of Irish Lights Engineer-in-Chief CW Scott came up with this novel idea. Because the top cliff was often obscured by fog and low clouds, a traditional lighthouse would not do. 

Built in 1912 on a somewhat vertical cliff, the upside down lighthouse was a huge undertaking. It took almost 4 years to complete. The enormous amount concrete used had to be mixed by hand. An inclined railway was built for transporting materials.

Coast Guard Families Need Your Help 

Amelia Island Lighthouse, Florida

The Coast Guard is responsible for the functioning of the beacon at Amelia Island Lighthouse on Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Looking for practical ways to help those impacted by the government shutdown. Donations are needed by The Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. They assist Coast Guard members and their families with unexpected financial expenses. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military not being paid during the government shutdown. All donations are appreciated. Check out the Coast Guard Mutual Assistance website for more details.

The long and short of it 

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Lighthouse is the shortest lighthouse in New England.

New England may have some of the shortest lighthouses but its long on history. 

Portland Harbor Lighthouse.

Portland Harbor Lighthouse on Fort Constitution.

Fort Constitution where Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is located recalls the days of Paul Revere. Reminders of New England’s Whaling History are prevalent at Nantucket, the site of the second oldest lighthouse in the United States.

Portland Breakwater Lighthouse.

The Portland Breakwater Lighthouse is inspired by the Greek Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.

Memories of WWII are present at a shipbuilding museum near Portland Breakwater Lighthouse. Surfside Life Saving Station now a hostel beckons old and youth alike. 

Surfside Life Saving Station.

The Life Saving Service is the precursor to the US Coast Guard.

Short on Lighthouses 

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, New Hampshire

Portsmouth Harbor is located on Fort Constitution.

I didn’t know New Hampshire had the shortest ocean coastline of any coastal state in the United States before touring the state in search of lighthouses. We drove through Fort Constitution to view the lighthouse built in 1871. I should have been excited instead of disappointed. I thought there would be more lighthouses in New Hampshire on the tour. After I looked at the New Hampshire map and saw the 13 mile coastline, I was more delighted with the lighthouse stop at Portsmouth Harbor.

Double Edge Sword 

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse stands on guard.

Portland Harbor, Maine is the one of largest and busiest ports on the East Coast of the United States. Its fierce waters and treacherous rocks are guarded by a host of lighthouses. During a lighthouse tour, we stopped by Two Lights Road to view two of the lighthouses. Cape Elizabeth and West lighthouses were built in the same location to distinguish them from Portland Head Lighthouse. I drew Cape Elizabeth because the western lighthouse was partially hidden from the street. Both lighthouses were completed in 1832.