Full speed ahead: Coast Guard moves to modify foghorn, allow lighthouse film

Posted March 19, 2014, at 5:18 p.m.

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Moose Peak Light and the fishing village of Jonesport will be the setting for a movie that is scheduled to be filmed on location in the summer of 2014.
Courtesy of Erica Fae
Moose Peak Light and the fishing village of Jonesport will be the setting for a movie that is scheduled to be filmed on location in the summer of 2014.

JONESPORT, Maine — The Coast Guard plans to equip the foghorn at Moose Peak Light with a device that will allow mariners to activate it, apparently creating smooth sailing for a feature film that would be shot near the lighthouse this summer, the service revealed Wednesday.

The movie, to be filmed on Mistake Island, where the lighthouse is located, and in the fishing village of Jonesport, appeared to be in jeopardy because the Coast Guard initially declined to deactivate the foghorn, which operates automatically and goes off at two-second intervals about every half-minute.

The Coast Guard reconsidered that stand and is in the process of notifying mariners that it plans to install equipment that will allow boaters and fishermen to activate the foghorn if needed, Lt. Joe Klinker, public affairs officer at the Coast Guard’s office in Boston, said Wednesday.

By keying a radio microphone five times to a predesignated VHF channel, the system will activate and the foghorn will operate on its cycle for 45 minutes, he explained.

“The foghorn won’t be activated unless somebody needs it,” said Klinker.

He discussed the Coast Guard’s decision with Erica Fae, the New York City filmmaker, hours earlier, said Klinker. She indicated her movie project would be able to proceed, he said.

“I’m so pleased with the Coast Guard’s support and excited about this solution that they’re proposing and look forward to working with everybody in the community as the film moves forward,” said Fae by phone Wednesday.

The Coast Guard also will seek feedback from local mariners.

The Coast Guard, which has a station in Jonesport, is considering the use of such equipment at other sites, too, said Klinker.

“Right now, making the change at Moose Peak … appears to be in the interest of the community,” he said, and the new equipment will provide a way for the Coast Guard to maintain its safety mission.

The new equipment could be installed in about two months, indicated Klinker.

The decision was authorized by Rear Adm. Daniel Abel, commander of the Coast Guard first district in Boston.

“The command here, specifically the admiral, wanted to try to get to yes, supporting the town” and the film project, said Klinker.

Townspeople embraced the film project late last year, voting to allow the use of the name of the village in the production.

People associated with the production had asked the Coast Guard to temporarily turn off the foghorn to allow filming, but the service first said it does not, as a matter of policy, grant requests to turn off lights or foghorns temporarily to accommodate film productions, family gatherings or outings, or other special activities or events, Matthew Stuck, civilian chief of aids to navigation for the Coast Guard’s first district in Boston, said last week.

The film would be about a woman tending a lighthouse for her ailing husband in the mid-1800s. A website with information about the project describes the film as a “visually striking drama (that) blends psychological suspense, passion and feminist revelation into a story of quiet rebellion.”

The heroine of the film is a fictional, composite character based on two real women — Abbie Burgess, known for tending Matinicus Rock Light and Whitehead Light in midcoast Maine, and Ida Lewis, a lighthouse keeper in Rhode Island.

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