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Boston Light turns 300 next year, but why wait to celebrate?

Todd Isherwood
Classic Harbor Line's Yacht Beacon.handout

She’s tall, radiant, a beacon of safety, and sits pretty on far-flung Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor. She’s also had a recent $1.5 million facelift and was absolutely glowing as she celebrated her 299th birthday on Sept. 14, receiving social media shout-outs from lighthouses around the globe.

Opened in 1716, Boston Light is the first and oldest lighthouse station in the country. And, like any interesting figure in Boston’s illustrious past, she has a story. Boston Light was badly damaged in attacks during the American Revolution and then destroyed by British troops leaving Boston Harbor. Boston Light was then rebuilt in 1783 and remains the only light station in the country to be staffed by a US Coast Guard lightkeeper. In 1964, the lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark.

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Boston Light will turn 300 next year and there are big plans to celebrate, including a party in August. (Little Brewster Island can accommodate only 100 people at a time, according to a Boston Harbor Island Alliance spokeswoman, so the party will take place on nearby George’s Island.)

But why wait? Autumn is a perfect time of year for a day spent out on the water, and you have several opportunities to experience Boston Light, including this weekend.

Take a ranger-led tour of Boston Light conducted by The Boston Harbor Island Alliance, along with the National Park Service and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. Departing from the Boston Harbor Islands’ Welcome Center, the 3½-hour lighthouse experience begins with a 45-minute narrated tour through Boston Harbor and Boston Harbor Islands; you’ll learn about Boston’s maritime history and see the harbor’s other historic lighthouses — Long Island Head Light and The Graves Light. The boat then docks at Little Brewster Island, home to Boston Light, where you’ll get an opportunity to see and hear lighthouse keeper Sally Snowman (hired in 2003 as Boston Light’s first female lightkeeper) share stories of the families who have tended to the lighthouse through the years. You’ll also have an opportunity to climb the 76 steps to view the only Fresnel lens currently in use in the Commonwealth (a beacon of light flashes every 10 seconds and is viewable up to 27 nautical miles), and to see sweeping views of Massachusetts Bay and the Boston skyline. The last tour of the season is this weekend, Oct. 2-4. Tickets are $41 for adults; $37 for seniors, students and active military; $30 for youth; and free for kids three years old and under. For more information and tickets, visit bostonharborislands.org.

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Or, sign on for Classic Harbor Line’s Fall Foliage Cruise aboard the yacht Beacon — you’ll motor by Boston Light as well as the other lighthouses in Boston Harbor, ultimately making your way to Weir River, a tidal estuary located on the harbor side of Nantasket and World’s End, which runs along the Weir River with a park and nice grouping of trees for leaf peepers.

The three-hour cruise includes a picnic lunch (sandwiches, fruit, desert) and complimentary hot apple cider, as well as beer and wine (extra charge). The weekend cruises depart Oct. 17, 18, 24, 25, and 31 at 10 a.m.. The Beacon departs from Rowes Wharf. Tickets are $68 for adults and $38 for children. For more information and tickets, visit www.boston-sailing.com.

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Laurie Wilson can be reached at laurieheather@yahoo.com.