Sea Girt Lighthouse is busy with activity throughout the year with tours, programs and community groups who meet regularly at the lighthouse. The 2011 calendar this summer and fall is filled with interesting events open to the public.
Guided Sunday Tours
Guided tours, led by lighthouse docents, are conducted Sundays, 2-4 p.m. from May 1 through November 20, except holiday weekends. Visitors have access to every room, from the keeper’s office, throughout the living quarters and up to the top of the tower.
On display are a Fresnel lens and other artifacts that capture the history of the lighthouse and keepers and later Coast Guardsmen who operated the landmark. Bygone Sea Girt is recalled in rare photos and documents. There are many artifacts from the Morro Castle, the cruise ship that burned offshore in 1934 and prompted a heroic rescue effort.
Note: There are no tours on these holiday Sundays: May 8 (Mother’s Day), May 29 (Memorial Day weekend), June 19 (Father’s Day), July 3 (Sunday before Independence Day) and September 4 (Sunday before Labor Day).
Group tours, especially popular with schools and Scouts, are conducted year-round by prior arrangement.
To arrange a group tour, please submit your request through the website's Contact Us page, or call the lighthouse, 732-974-0514, or write Sea Girt Lighthouse Citizens Committee, P.O. Box 83, Sea Girt, NJ 08750.
The Manasquan River Group of Artists, which meets weekly at the lighthouse for art classes and to paint and share techniques, display their creations at their annual summer art show and sale on the lighthouse north lawn. The popular show, which was first held in the mid-1980s, is one of the oldest recurring events at the lighthouse. Some 15-20 artists exhibit their creations in watercolors, pastels, oils, ink and pencil as well as prints. Many of the images capture seascapes, beach scenes, beach wildflowers, shore homes, and local landmarks, including the lighthouse and area pavilions and boardwalks. The show runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 9. The rain date is Sunday, July 10.
International Lighthouse / Lightship Weekend
Amateur radio operators – hams – broadcast from the porch of Sea Girt Lighthouse on Saturday, August 20, as part of the 18th Annual International Lighthouse / Lightship Weekend.
Hams at some 400 other lighthouses in 50 countries transmit CQs (“calling any station”) signals by microphone or using keys to tap Morse code to listening amateurs around the world. The lighthouse hams also spend time listening for incoming CQs and then respond.
Working in pairs, one ham works the transceiver, while the other records the details of each contact completed: call letters, radio operator’s name, location, message. A few dozen hams from the Neptune Amateur Radio Club and the local chapter of the North American DX Association take turns transmitting from two stations set up for the event at Sea Girt Lighthouse.
In years past, hams broadcasting from Sea Girt, ranging in age from pre-teens to retirees, have reached operators in more than 30 states, a few dozen lighthouses and as far away as Brazil and Slovenia and Russia. Communications is never a problem as hams use internationally recognized code words, letters and numbers, such as CQ (calling any station), QRZ (who is calling?),QSL (I copy, I understand), 73 (best regards), SK (end of transmission), to bridge any language barrier.
Last year, the operators at Sea Girt succeeded in reaching hams at five other lighthouses as well as event participants in more than a dozen states and three foreign countries. In the final hour of the event, one of the ham at Sea Girt put aside his microphone and plugged in his key and started to tap out More code, which travels farther than voice transmissions.
His dots and dashes skipped across the Atlantic Ocean and over the Ural Mountains, eliciting a response from an amateur operator in Russia. A few minutes later, the local ham was conversing in Morse with a second operator who heard his CQ, also in Russia.
The event, which originated in Scotland, aims to spotlight the historic importance of lighthouses, promote amateur radio and foster international understanding. Visitors are welcome to meet the local hams, talk to them about the fun of amateur radio, watch them in action and eavesdrop on their conversations. Broadcasting begins at 9 a.m.
The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is Saturday and Sunday, October 15-16. The challenge is to visit 11 New Jersey lighthouses, including Sea Girt. Also participating are two museums with lighthouse artifacts and a lifesaving station.
In addition to Sea Girt, the other Challenge lighthouses are: Absecon, Barnegat, Cape May, East Point, Finns Point, Hereford Inlet, Navesink/Twin Lights and Sandy Hook, Tinicum and Tuckerton. Also open for visitors is the Tatham Life-Saving Station in Stone Harbor.
Museums in Barnegat and Cape May are bonus stops. The two museums, as well as Sea Girt Lighthouse and a few other lighthouses have rare Fresnel lens on display.
Participants have access to every room in Sea Girt Lighthouse – the keeper’s office, the living quarters, and up the spiral staircase to the lantern room at the very top of the tower.
In the 2008 Challenge, Sea Girt Lighthouse had the most visitors of any participating lighthouse – 2,615 people. They came from 30 states, Canada, England, Germany and Italy.