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- W8L -

Stannard Rock Lighthouse Activation
August 7th & 8th, 2021

Loneliest Lighthouse In the World

I submitted these event details to QST Magazine and an article was published in its August, 2022 issue! I’m not entirely happy with their editing, especially removing the picture of KN4CK climbing the 23-foot ladder from the boat, (which, by the way, was coated with bugs) and the only picture of me! But my feedback at the time was to say that their draft looked perfect. I was, and still am thrilled to have our story printed in QST, (circulation over 150,000 world-wide). The actual article had color pictures but, for some reason, the version I downloaded from their archive has black-and-white. You can see my submission and the article download here:

Article I submitted to QST

QST article download

The Stannard Rock Lighthouse is the ‘Loneliest Lighthouse in the World’. To see it, you have to be 20 miles from land on Lake Superior!

It is difficult to reach. Seaworthy boats with dual engines and experienced captains regularly visit the shoal to fish for Lake Trout - when weather permits. As often as not, they cancel chartered events because of risks due to weather. One captain said, “the wind can change in 20 minutes”. Inexperienced pilots run out of gas fighting the wind to get home. They can be rescued, but only a fool would underestimate Lake Superior! Sudden storms build enormous waves. The water is always very cold.

The lighthouse is haunted by the ghost of Petty Officer 1st Class William Maxwell who was blown away in 1961 and never found. The damage from the blast was never repaired.

Nobody has ever activated this lighthouse.

That is, until now! Our team of five mounted an excursion to the loneliest place on Earth, with radio equipment that let the world join us out there! The FCC had granted our requsted call letters, 'W8L' for this special event. We were listed on QRZ.com.

While preparing and learning from the sailors up there, we heard about an hour-long struggle just to tie the boat to the lighthouse, and about a man falling into the turbulent water while reaching out of the bobbing boat for the ladder. We simulated and tested as much as we could, with radio team operation, and with transporting our gear. The engineers on our team practiced with an actual 20’ ladder and platform. We were determined to be ready!

Activation Details

We made our first QSO at 23:07 UTC on 07 Aug, and the last QSO was at 16:07 UTC on 08 August. We operated a total of 17 hours. We worked 40 states and 8 Countries. That works out to 20.5 contacts per hour. We also got the QRZ Grid Squared Award, USA Counties Award, and World Radio Friendship Award.

We had planned to operate from the boat before and after the lighthouse activation with call letters for these transmissions being the station operator’s call, plus the special event call, such as ‘N8PPQ/W8L’. However, the weather was too rough for that.

QSL via mail, QRZ, and LoTW only please. US Mail goes to N8PPQ: 1817 Mills Ave., N. Muskegon, MI 49445. Please add comments about your experience, including RF conditions or knowledge you have of Stannard Rock.

Jason N8CZ designed the QSL cards. He used an 1883 open source Rand McNally map published the same year that the lighthouse had its first light! Take this link to see the

For videos, see the W8L YouTube Channel.

Transportation to and from the Lighthouse

After the drive to Marquette, we boarded a charter fishing boat to make way to Stannard Rock. Three firms had turned us away, but Kimar’s Charters agreed to take us for the overnight visit. Dave Kimar said that he has worked with the Watershed Partnership in the past, and with others to deliver people and equipment to the lighthouse and weather station. Dave said nobody knows more about the lighthouse and its history. We felt that we are in good hands with Kimar’s Charters.

There is no better place to catch lake trout! In fact, Michigan's state record for lake trout, a 61-pound-8-ounce (27.9 kg) specimen, was caught on 12-pound (5.4 kg) line at Stannard Rock Reef by 16-year-old Lucas Lanczy on August 17, 1997, according to "51 Year Record Broken: Possible World Record on 12 lb. Line". Weekly News. Great Lakes Sports Fishing Council. August 18, 1997.

Take this link to see Kimar’s charter boats: https://www.kimarscharters.com/about3

Superior Watershed Partnership

The mission of the Superior Watershed Partnership is to protect and improve the natural resources of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on a watershed basis; by promoting responsible individual and community actions that ensure a sustainable environment, encourage a sustainable economy, and help improve quality of life.

For more information about the owner of the Stannard Rock Lighthouse, see the links below.