Full Circle for the Gay Head Light

52-mile kayak circumnavigation of Martha's Vineyard to aid relocation of iconic Gay Head Lighthouse
Tiffany Smalley
Aquinnah, Massachusetts
United States
7 Team Members
Aug. 9, 2014 UPDATE: He did it!
Dana Gaines completed his epic 52-mile paddle around Martha's Vineyard in a record time of 9 hours, 14 minutes! This campaign is still active for a few more days, so if you have not yet donated to support Dana and the Gay Head Lighthouse, please do so! Thank you, Dana!
Hi-- I'm Dana Gaines, a native of Martha's Vineyard Island and avid kayaker. This summer I've decided to paddle the full 52 miles around the island-- for a second time-- and dedicate my effort to raising much needed funds for the relocation of the historic Gay Head Lighthouse, which is threatened by rapid erosion of the famous clay cliffs upon which it has stood for more than 150 years. If not moved back to safety very soon, there won't be enough earth left around the tower to support the heavy equipment needed to facilitate such a feat of engineering..... so the clock is ticking, and time is of the essence; $3 million must be raised in order to save this historic beacon, which is far more than a simple aid to navigation.

With that as motivation, I plan to start beneath the cliffs at dawn on August 9th-- weather permitting-- and hopefully arrive back below the light in late afternoon.... ideally beating the record of 11 hours and 4 minutes which two friends and I set in 2012. The date was picked to coincide with favorable tidal currents which run strong up and down Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds, and are absolutely key to a successful circumnavigation by paddle-power. The course is roughly triangular, comprised of 16 miles in Vineyard Sound, 14 miles in Nantucket Sound, and 22 miles in the open Atlantic. The direction I choose will depend entirely on the wind forecast for that day-- but given the prevailing summer southwest breeze, odds are 80% that it will be the counter-clockwise route. If the wind is simply too strong for safe paddling, the following day will offer equally advantageous currents for an early morning start.

I hope that you can support me with a donation in any amount. While the Gay Head Light is particularly dear to the residents of the town of Aquinnah-- including members of the Wampanoag tribe whose roots go back 10,000 years-- it is also a beloved icon to residents of the five other island towns, a "must see" for all visitors to Martha's Vineyard (presidents included), and a national treasure with a storied history, listed as one of America's 11 most endangered places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Most critically, it stands as an enduring symbol of our nation's past, and reassuring presence for all who are touched by the sweep of its beacon. Together, let's keep the light upright and burning!
NOTE: We are using a local community group, the non-profit AQUINNAH-GAY HEAD COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, to receive our funds, so your donation receipt will have that as the receiver of your donation.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 137 people in 2 months
66% funded
No time left
Verified Nonprofit
$20,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 19, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    A big thank you!

    You'll know you've helped keep the light shining for new generations, for years to come.

    4 claimed
  • $25USD
    A huge thank you!

    You are helping to preserve an island treasure for future generations.

    15 claimed
  • $50USD
    See the Lighthouse!

    Free admission to the lighthouse interior for 2. Climb the winding stairs and enjoy the breathtaking view out over Vineyard Sound and the Elizabeth Islands.

    20 claimed
  • $100USD

    Proudly wear your Save the Gay Head Lighthouse t-shirt, a quality 100% cotton garment in smokey blue, in men's and women's styles.

    25 claimed
  • $250USD
    Gay Head Lighthouse Tee + Tote

    Enjoy your Save the Gay Head Lighthouse t-shirt, a quality 100% cotton garment in smokey blue, in men's and women's styles, along with a stylish Save the Light canvas tote.

    9 claimed
  • $500USD
    Lighthouse Tour

    A private tour of the lighthouse for 4 people with lighthouse keeper Richard Skidmore.

    4 out of 12 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Kayak with Dana!

    A private kayak outing with Dana Gaines on a Martha's Vineyard pond or harbor, for up to 4 people, age 13 yrs+. Kayak equipment and PFDs (personal flotation devices) provided and delivered by Island Spirit Kayak, or bring your own.

    0 out of 4 claimed
  • $5,000USD
    Private Lighthouse Dinner

    Enjoy a private catered dinner for four inside the iconic Gay Head Lighthouse at the observation deck level.

    0 out of 1 claimed
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