The Cuckolds are known for being difficult to access and to take the full brunt of storms.
“People who are savvy about the water have trouble getting onshore. “I’ve been on and off thousands of times and consider myself savvy, but even I’ve been dumped into the water.” Because of this challenge, Cuckolds visits must be scheduled, Reingold said.
The Cuckolds restoration saga, from construction, to island goats, to senatorial visits, has been captured in the pages of the Boothbay Register over the years.
Along with regular progress reports, there has also been news of financial mismanagement and occasional letters to the editor from Southport residents opposed to the project or specific aspects of it.
“What was originally a great project to restore the lighthouse we all adored morphed into a B&B for hedge-fund types,” said Meredith Knowlton, whose house at Newagen, which was once her grandparents, offers a view of the Cuckolds from the front porch.
From the early days of the restoration project, Knowlton and other Southport Islanders have lobbied for a project that restored only the fog signal, not the keeper’s house, and that did not include overnight guests.
As with any large endeavor, particularly one that requires the blessing of several federal and state agencies, the Cuckolds project has known obstacles and controversy.
Entrepreneur and Southport Island resident Paul Coulombe, whose philanthropy and economic development ventures are changing the landscape of the Boothbay peninsula, has recently had a hand in both resolving obstacles and, for some, in raising controversy.
“Having the Cuckolds as a B&B brings a lot of attention to the area and a lot of interest from PFAs (people from away) that want to have a lighthouse experience first-hand,” Coulombe said.
The effort to restore the Cuckolds began in 2004, when the former light station at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor was decommissioned by the Coast Guard and made available to interested parties.
Southport summer residents Janet Reingold and Philip Yasinski initiated the idea to obtain and restore the iconic light station, and over the life of the project, they have gathered together hundreds of avid volunteers and supporters.
While the Cuckolds Council works to complete permitting and construction so the restored Cuckolds Fog Signal and Light Station off the tip of Southport Island can welcome its first visitors this summer, concerns on Southport Island currently focus on where utility lines carrying water, electricity and sewage will cross.
But some on Southport are also concerned about a restoration project they believe has changed course over its 10-year journey.