Thursday, September 08, 2011

Carolina squadrons’ service honored

Forty years ago, a new name appeared on North Carolina coastal navigation charts. On 13 April 1971, NOAA’s National Ocean Service and the United States Board on Geographic Names officially designated a spot on Cape Lookout 2.5 miles north-northwest of the cape point Power Squadron Spit to recognize the Cooperative Charting efforts of 20 District 27 squadrons in North and South Carolina.

Power Squadron Spit (N 34.6226 W -076.524) appears on the Cape Lookout map at the National Park Service website and nautical chart 11545.

Under the Cooperative Charting Program, conducted in coordination with the Marine Chart Division of the National Ocean Service, USPS members compare chart information to actual water depths, navigational aids and topography so corrections may be made to improve mariners’ safety. Members also supply data on range status and tidal current surveys and report damaged or misplaced Aids to Navigation. According to NOAA, the Cooperative Charting Program is recognized as the most effective Federal user-participation program.

A commemorative plaque honoring the squadrons for their efforts was originally affixed to Cape Lookout Lighthouse, then owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The plaque was later moved to the U.S. National Park Service headquarters for Cape Lookout National Seashore on Harkers Island.

A delegation of squadron members from Winston-Salem, N.C., originally presented the plaque to President Richard Nixon in 1972. Afterward Ronald C. Rau and Don Soefker departed for the Cannon House Office Building with the plaque; they were joined by Chief Commander Walter Cosdon and National Ocean Service officers. The party proceeded to the office of North Carolina Rep. Wilmer Mizell. The plaque was subsequently installed at Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

In the summer of 2002, Cdr. Dean Lee, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard group at Fort Macon, advised Ken Link that he would remove the plaque from Cape Lookout Lighthouse in preparation for turning over the property to the U.S. National Park Service. The beacon is one of many Atlantic Coast lighthouses that have come under the management of the National Park Service. Lee asked that Fort Macon Power Squadron keep the plaque during the transition.

On 15 May 2004, USPS members visited Cape Lookout to rededicate themselves to Cooperative Charting. Headed by District 27 Commander L. Stephen Puckett, 30 members attended the ceremony, including USPS National Executive Officer Ernest G. Marshburn. Also present were North Carolina Rep. Jean Preston and Bob Vogel, Superintendent of Cape Lookout National Seashore.

On 30 March 2006, Fort Macon Sail & Power Squadron members presented the plaque to Cherry Payne, acting superintendent of the U.S. National Park Service Cape Lookout National Seashore, at the headquarters on Harkers Island. The plaque was installed in the Light Keeper’s Quarters Museum.

Fort Macon Sail & Power Squadron will host the 40th Anniversary celebration of the naming of Power Squadron Spit on 10 Sept. 2011 at 1400 at the Lighthouse Keeper’s Quarters Museum at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Bruce Brill is in charge of the event (252-726-3119), and D/27 Commander Michael McCulley will speak. Cape Lookout National Seashore Superintendent Patrick M. Kenney and his staff will attend.

Squadron members will be able to climb the Cape Lookout Lighthouse from 1230 to 1330 to view Power Squadron Spit.

Press may contact Dick McKeon at 252-463-0208 to see if lighthouse tickets are available and should bring lunch, water, sunscreen and insect repellent. For press corps transportation to Cape Lookout to cover this event, see the list of ferry services at or contact JB Bagby (703-507-1745) for assignment to a Fort Macon Sail & Power Squadron vessel, departure locations and times. –Kenneth D. Link and JB Bagby