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  • Writer's pictureMark Robinson

Southhampton Shoal Lighthouse

On July 14th, 2018, my son and I visited Southampton Shoal lighthouse in Stockton, CA. We were both very excited to see this lighthouse. It is located on an Island, so we needed to plan far in advance even though it was “only” 2 hours away.

Southhampton Shoal Lighthouse from the grounds at Tinsley Island

A little background; Southampton Shoal lighthouse was built in 1905 off the coast of Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. By 1960, it was no longer needed, so the St. Francis Yacht Club bought it and shipped it upriver, much like the Carquinez Strait Lighthouse (see Lake Tahoe trip). The lighthouse was shipped to Tinsley Island in the San Joaquin River, and has since become part of the now well-developed island.

We woke up at 6am and left at 7, stopping at Starbucks before we entered our (first) freeway. Our usual stop before a long drive. After an uneventful journey, we arrived at King Island Marina in Stockton, where we were to depart on the boat to the lighthouse.

The dock and King Island Marina

The marina looked a little run down, but it contained a store and clean bathrooms.

"Everyone" visits the Bait Shop at King Island Marina

King Island Marina is essentially a large scale storage area for private boats. All throughout the marina are garage-like overhangs designed to protect boats.

Massive boat storage areas at King Island Marina

After a few more minutes, our boat arrived to transport us to the lighthouse. The boat could seat about 30 people, though it was far from full. We then settled in for the 15-minute boat ride to the island.

Southhampton Shoal Lighthouse peaks out from the trees as our boat arrives at Tinsley Island

As soon as we got off the boat, we went straight to the lighthouse. It was hard to miss, as it towers above the entire island.

Andy in front of the Southhampton Shoal Lighthouse

Unlike many lighthouses, we were permitted to climb to the top and enter the lantern room as well as the surrounding balcony. From the lantern room there is a great view of the amenities (for Yacht Club members) such as a pool and restaurants.

The grounds of Tinsley Island (as seen from the Lantern Room)

One of the most striking features of the island are the docks that surround it. To get into the harbor, there is a surrounding burn (sea wall) that you have to pass. The entire island is surrounded with this wall and docks. There were an incredible number of yachts surrounding the entire island.

Yachts fill the harbor of Tinsley Island

We found the island to be beautifully landscaped with lots of spaces to sit and relax. There is also a path that runs the circumference of the island that should not be missed because it has striking views on all sides of the harbor and the island.

After several hours, we decided to board the boat back to King Island Marina.

On our way home, my son and I discussed what we liked about the lighthouse. What appealed to both of us is just how "off the beaten path" Southhampton Shoal Lighthouse is. It seemed unlikely that most people interested in lighthouses would ever visit Southhampton Shoal. I am sure the same thought occurs to the people who have yacht club memberships at Tinsley Island. There was a certain exclusive feel to having a lighthouse on the grounds.

It was well worth the journey.

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