The Coastal Amateur Radio Society will be activating the Tybee Island Lighthouse (USA 864) on Monday, 21 April 2014 as part of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society‘s 2014 Spring Lites QSO Party. Operations should begin around 0900 local/1300 UTC and they will operate throughout the day as W4LHS on 40, 20, 15, and 10 Meters as band conditions allow. The stations will be temporary ones on the lighthouse grounds utilizing a variety of radios and antennas including a hex beam, SteppIR vertical, and wire antennas. This operation was originally planned for Saturday, 19 April 2014 but “Orange Crush” is also scheduled for that weekend so the club took the decision to make other plans because it would be difficult for both operators and visitors to get on and off the island. It would be akin to trying to operate a special event station in downtown Savannah on St. Patrick’s Day! Other options to operate on the weekend, including operating from the St. Simons Island Lighthouse, were explored but in the end operating on Monday was the best option as the QSO Party lasts through Tuesday, 22 April 2014.
The Tybee Island Lighthouse is one of seven existing United States colonial-era lighthouses, surviving today in a modified form. Located on the north end of Tybee Island by the entrance to the Savannah River, it was first built in 1736 at the order of General James Oglethorpe. The lighthouse was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times due to weather and erosion and was eventually burned and the lens removed by Confederate forces when they abandoned it during the Civil War and retreated to Fort Pulaski (which you pass on the way out to Tybee Island on US 80) in 1862. After the Civil War, the was rebuilt and modified a number of times over the years. In 1999, a major restoration project was begun and the Tybee Island Historical Society took possession of the lighthouse in 2002. It continues to be an active navigational aid to this day.
If you’re able, feel free to drop by and visit the station and the lighthouse. The Tybee Island Lighthouse truly is an area landmark, you’ll easily see it as you approach and drive onto Tybee Island. You’ll also pass by Fort Pulaski and the Cockspur Island lighthouse on your way out. This is an excellent opportunity to draw attention to Tybee Island, the Lighthouse, and the Savannah area to the rest of the country and the world through amateur radio. It’s also a great way to promote the rich maritime history of the Tybee Island and Savannah area.
The lighthouse is about a 20 minute drive from the intersection of Victory Drive and Skidaway Road in Savannah. Take Victory Drive (which is also US 80) east from Skidaway through Thunderbolt and past Whitemarsh Island to Tybee Island. From US 80 on Tybee Island turn north onto Polk St, then turn east on Fort Avenue, continue onto Taylor St, then turn south on Meddin Drive and you’ll see the lighthouse.