by Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club
LIGHTING THE WAY -- A community comment over six years ago was "We need to
get lights out there on that lake." Consequently, friends Bob Keller, John
Walker, Jack Meredith, and others formed a volunteer organization known as
the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club. Their mission: to light the way on Lake
Havasu for the safety of boaters. In 2006, there are nearly 12 completed
lighthouses, among them the pictured Split Rock4 Broch.
By Karen Scanlon
The night was dead black. Not a
star visible. No silver water to guide them. It left an edge to an
otherwise playful day for six Lake Havasu City residents who had gone to
Havasu Springs for a day of golf and dinner. But, navigating homeward on
dark water stirred an eerie, unsettling feeling.
"We need to get lights out there on that lake," they said the next day.
That was six years and nearly 12 lighthouses ago.
Friends Bob Keller, John Walker, Jack Meredith, and others, gathered to
form a volunteer organization known as the Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club.
Their mission: To light the way on Lake Havasu for the safety of boaters.
"Prior to our lighthouses, we had five or six navigational lights on
the lake, but they weren’t very bright and hard to identify mixed into the
developed shoreline," Walker says.
So, the group began building lighthouses — not just any old
lighthouses, but scaled-down replicas of real ones. First up, Cape
Hatteras, a 45-foot round pyramidal tower with the distinctive black and
white spiral. Vivid patterns painted on lighthouses are intended as day
The beacon stands at the personal watercraft ramp of Windsor State Park
and flashes a rotating amber light every second.
"After this thing got off the ground, we discovered that lights used by
the State Park were totally inadequate for our lighthouses, with just
half-mile visibility and at a whooping cost of $8000," says Bob Keller,
President, Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club.
Keller spent more than a year researching a more efficient light source
and found the Carmanah Company in British Columbia that produces a
compact, longer-lasting light, at the miracle price of $1000.
Keller laughs, "I called them and asked, are you for real or are you a
The Club took a chance and bought a light. Today, Lake Havasu’s
lighthouses are wired with a later version of that model—a Series 700
Solar-Powered LED Light with a visibility range of up to three nautical
These LED (light emitting diodes) lights are packed with solar panels,
LEDs, and batteries in a self-contained, sealed unit. A built-in GPS
receiver enables the flash synchronization. Operating life span: 100,000
hours. Simply replace the battery every five years.
"The lights are colored according to Coast Guard regulation," Keller
Flashing amber lights indicate the entrance to a marina or safe-harbor.
Red beacons are located on the east side of the lake, which borders
Arizona, heading north. Green beacons are located on the west, or
California side, as you head north.
Keller stresses that first and foremost, the lighthouses are
navigational aids for safety on the lake.
"Coincidentally they look like lighthouses — a fact that has taken more
priority than that they are navigational lights," he says. "It’s a very,
very busy waterway and we continue to have accidents. We really haven’t
put the lights where they are most needed."
To date, the lighthouses stand in public places, visible offerings of
proud sponsors. However, beacons are needed further along the lake, but
people on shore won’t see them.
"We’ve identified 35 sites down the winding lake where lights are
needed right now," Keller says. "If dreams came true, we’d have a light at
every mile, and our jurisdiction is dam to dam, 85 miles."
As for the actual construction labor of these appealing replicas,
volunteer craftsmen, electricians, and would-be-architects (many of them
retired) lend their skill to the lighthouse projects.
First, a real lighthouse is chosen and ‘blueprints’ secured. If the
replica is to stand on the Arizona side of the lake, it’ll be an East
Coast lighthouse; on the California lakeshore, a West Coast lighthouse is
"Neil Esmay is the best thing we’ve got," Keller says. "Our master
Esmay is a transplant from Kansas City who started a construction
company at Lake Havasu City many years ago.
But, Esmay works alongside an entire community that rallies ‘round the
cause of safety on the lake, from foundation pouring to local crane
operators who lift the finished product onto the site.
You have to see these lighthouses to believe them. Members of the Lake
Havasu Lighthouse Club have demonstrated innovative and industrious
commitment to the local lake area.
Hats off, everybody!