Education · Kate's Corner


Keeper Kate Walker here, keeping the light on Robbins Reef at the edge of New York Harbor.

The only way to get to Robbins Reef is by boat, and when you get here, there’s no place to pull a boat out of the water. Everyone has to climb up the ladder to the deck of the lighthouse, and our boat has to be hauled out of the water with a davit. I’m not good at explaining mechanical devices, so I Googled “davit” and found that “a davit is any of various crane-like devices used on a ship for supporting, raising, and lowering boats, anchors, etc.” Well, they are used on lighthouses too, to safely lift up out of the ocean the dingy that is our link to civilization. Before we climb the ladder into the lighthouse, we fasten the dinghy to the ropes that hang from the davit. And when we reach the deck, we winch the boat up on the davit. When we leave the lighthouse, we lower the dinghy to the water before we go down the ladder.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, take a look at my lighthouse—especially at where our dinghy sits. You can see the ladder as well near the left edge of the foundation on which the lighthouse rests.

Robbins Reef NY USCGHO
Robbins Reef Light Station on the west side of New York Upper Bay, marking shoal water on the New Jersey side of the main channel to the Manhattan docks
Photo from the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’s Office

Behind the dinghy in this picture is the deck where I serve tea to guests who come to visit in the summer. They tie their boat to the ladder, which is safe because they come only in good weather and don’t stay long enough to have their boat threatened.

Our living quarters are on two floors, living room and kitchen opening onto the deck and bedrooms above. You can see the Manhattan skyline behind the lighthouse.

What year would you guess this photo was taken? If you study it carefully, there are clues to help you decide.

21 Dec 1902 - Times Picayune - Kate Walker lores


Submitted June 29, 2017

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4 thoughts on “KATE’S CORNER   #1

  1. So what year? Looks like the Empire Bldg. (finished in 1931). no Twin Towers. (finished 1973).

  2. And looks like a radio antenna extending from the pole next to the lantern. And is that a Coastguardsman half hidden behind the boat? I’d guess the photo was taken in the 40s.

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