FLORIDA - Lighthouse will be a beacon for international connections as local HAM radio enthusiasts make the museum their home base for the weekend

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – On Saturday, August 19th and Sunday, August 20th, The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum will host the St. Augustine Amateur Radio Society (SAARS) for International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend.  This weekend is dedicated to a shared international interest in opening up lighthouses to the public all over the world in order to show their continued importance and necessity in modern navigation.  While visitors are on site they are able to participate in and listen to the amateur radio operators from SAARS contacting other lighthouses around the world. 

“We made forty contacts the last time,” said Herman Green, Secretary of SAARS. “Over the years, we’ve connected with around 500 lighthouses.  We see it as a very important and worthwhile endeavor because the public can see what we do and get an idea of how lighthouses and ships have historically communicated with each other.  We also hope to highlight how radio is helpful still today as a tool for emergency services when there is a disaster.”

Groups such as SAARS are comprised of what is commonly referred to as Hams in reference to the operation of Ham radio of which the term’s origin is unknown.  Hams not only find this an interesting hobby, but proudly serve as needed partners during a natural disaster as Mr. Green pointed out.  Radio is sometimes the only method of communication coming in and going out of a community during post-disaster clean up and recovery efforts.  In 2016 when hurricane Matthew paid a visit to our shores, SAARS partnered with St. Johns County Emergency Management to provide communication channels during and immediately following the storm. 

“I see this as a unique and engaging way for visitors to interact with the goings-on at a lighthouse,” said Tonya Creamer, PR Development Coordinator for the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. “Many of our visitors don’t realize that we are still an active navigational aid and are quite excited when they learn that fact during a visit so this is just one more way to demonstrate that functionality of our city’s well-known icon.  Further, I find it comforting that this group can get in some practice while having fun at the Museum should we need their help again in the event of a disaster.” 

The hub of the activity will take place next to the Lighthouse Tower where the operators will be making connections over radio starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  During the summer, the Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. 

A pivotal navigation tool and unique landmark of St. Augustine for over 140 years, the St. Augustine Light Station is host to centuries of history in the Nation’s Oldest PortSM. Through interactive exhibits, guided tours and maritime research, the 501(c)(3) non-profit St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum is on a mission to discover, preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest PortSM as symbolized by our working lighthouse. We are the parent organization to the Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.