Mise Tales Forty-Seven

For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One.

As mentioned earlier on the front page of my website, any photos or cartoons, or short bits of information, when it is removed from the front page, will also be included again later in the next next Misc Tales posting. That way you can keep track of it, search for it, or copy it.

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Wind MapOn October 18, 2014, a large storm was hitting the British Columbia, Canada coastline. The photo above shows the winds as a visualization of global weather conditions, forecast by supercomputers, updated every three hours. Click the photo for more recent details. Move around the map with your mouse. Zoom in also. Check out the menu in the lower left corner for more information.

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What Happens If You Break It?

Classic Fresnel Lighthouse Lenses   (Youtube)

artflo_15Another benefit of Facebook (FB), if you subscribe to the right channels, is the notification of new webpages. In this case a friend on Sentinelles des Mer (FB) led me to their webpage in Belgium www.sentinelles-des-mers.be again in French in case you clicked on the first link already.

What a beautiful sight (site?) to see! The page is covered with Fresnel lenses – originals and copies, plus they had links to the original webpage Artworks Florida which you will be happy to know is in English.

 Artworks Florida says:

Fresnel Lens Reproduction and Restoration​

Reproduction –
Artworks Florida custom designs and manufactures historic reproduction Fresnel lenses that were used to illuminate lighthouses in the 1800’s

Restoration –
Artworks Florida designs and manufactures custom lens components used in the restoration of original classic Fresnel lenses

Continue reading

Mise Tales Forty-Two

For an update on what a Mise Tale is then please see Mise Tales One. As mentioned earlier on the front page of my website, any photos or cartoons, or short bits of information, when it is removed from the front page, will also be included again later in the next Misc Tales. That way you can keep track of it, search for it, or copy it.

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Video: What hidden treasures lie within Orfordness Lighthouse? Charitable trust opens the iconic landmark to the public before it’s taken by the sea

–  Monday, April 14, 2014 

Orfordness_Lighthouse

Orfordness Lighthouse is opening its doors to the public for the very first time. Nicholas Gold, the new owner of the lighthouse.

For centuries it served as a beacon of security, offering safe passage for thousands of seafarers.

Now, as the sea it once guarded over grows perilously close, the end of Orfordness Lighthouse looms near.

But before the iconic landmark is lost to the waves, a final chance to view it in all its glory has been made possible. . . more

To inquire about visiting email orfordnesslighthouse@gmail.com. Continue reading

Celebrating the Lighthouses of PEI

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Click the photo to go to the website.

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Dreams of Being a Lighthouse Keeper

For years past, adults and children of all ages had dreams of growing up to be an adventurous lighthouse keeper. That dream is slowly dimming as the world automates its lighthouses.

The following article from The Guardian  brings to our attention the dimming of the dream in the UK

The lure of the lighthouse for our islanded souls
With the last lights set to go out, many of us will miss these concrete symbols of our humanity

by Joe Moran The Guardian, Saturday 12 April 2014.

Lighthouse, County Durham

The tower lights, the ones that rise impossibly out of the sea and carry the most romantic connotations for landlubberly ignoramuses like me, were the most dreaded by the keepers.’ Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Growing up, I wanted to be a lighthouse keeper. Just like Moominpappa in Tove Jansson’s Moomin books, my ambition was to live on the loneliest lighthouse on the remotest skerry farthest from land. It didn’t end well for Moominpappa, the island he and the other Moomins settled on being barren and desolate, inhabited only by a silent fisherman who turned out to be the ex-lighthouse keeper driven mad by loneliness. It didn’t put me off.

I have since met many compatriots who have had the same dream, for there is something about lighthouses that seems to speak to our islanded souls. more . . .

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Now, to celebrate the quincentenary of Trinity House, the organisation responsible for the lighthouses of England and Wales, an exhibition is opening at the National Maritime Museum. Guiding Lights will display intricate models of lighthouses and lighthouse keepers’ personal effects. It is hard to imagine a similarly pulse-quickening exhibition about air-traffic controllers or road-safety officers, although our lives are similarly in their hands.

“I meant nothing by the lighthouse,” Virginia Woolf wrote of its role in her most celebrated novel, “but I trusted that people would make it the deposit for their own emotions.” Lighthouses, Woolf realised, are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other. Artists, from John Constable to Eric Ravilious, have made them the focus of their paintings, which can’t simply be to do with their pleasingly vertical contrast with the horizon.

I suspect that lighthouses appeal especially to introverts like me, who need to make strategic withdrawals from the social world but also want to retain some basic link with humanity. A beam sweeping the horizon for the benefit of ships passing in the night is just that kind of minimal human connection. “Nothing must be allowed to silence our voices … We must call out to one another,” wrote Janet Frame, a shy New Zealand writer also fascinated by lighthouses, “across seas and deserts flashing words instead of mirrors and lights.”

I finally cured my lighthouse fantasy by reading Tony Parker’s oral history of lighthouse keepers. Looking after a light – no keeper ever called it a lighthouse – was, I learned, a tedious job, with little to do but linger over meals and make ships in bottles. One keeper was so lonely that in the middle of the night he switched on the transmitter and listened to the ships radioing each other, just to hear some other human voices. The tower lights, the ones that rise impossibly out of the sea and carry the most romantic connotations for landlubberly ignoramuses like me, were the most dreaded by the keepers. Without even a bit of rock to walk around on and escape from your housemates, they were the lighthouse-keeping equivalent of being posted to Siberia.

In any case, I was well out of it because lighthouse keeping was not a job with prospects.

The lighthouses began to be automated in the 1970s and the last keeper left the last occupied lighthouse in 1998. Now, in an age of radar and computerised navigation systems, working lighthouses are an endangered species. Their haunting fog signals are being switched off. Their black-and-red painted stripes, meant to stand out against the land and sky, are being left to peel off. And many lighthouses are being decommissioned, turned into holiday cottages or expensively renovated homes.

No doubt satnav will now do the job just as well, but it will be a shame when the last lighthouse turns off its light. In an age when we have to justify public projects with the consumerist language of stakeholders and end users, lighthouses still feel like an uncomplicated social good that belongs to us all. They are the concrete symbol of our common humanity, of the fact that people we may never meet – at whom we may do no more than flash our lights in the dark – are also our concern.

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One of my dad’s oldest friends was a lighthouse keeper for a few years. He was sometimes posted to those lights that stand alone on a rock. In a ‘big sea’ waves could be so high that water would come down the chimney and put the fire out. He also said that if your hearing went dull it meant that the level you were on was underwater because of a big swell – and a thick metal door was the only thing keeping the Atlantic out.

There are terrible stories. One was the lighthouse often had to eat the tallow candles when ships bringing supplies could not make it through the rough sea. Also the tradition of 2 keepers came into being when one single went out of his mind.
I’ve a slight problem with repeated ref to concrete. Most early lights were built with granite(or timber with plinth granite) interlocked water proof hydraulic cement. Smeaton’s Eddystone the prototype, and later Stephenson family business up north.

To be honest lighthouses are no longer necessary as the coastline is now starkly outlined by the amount of light pollution from our towns, cities and villages. You really can’t miss it when sailing down the coast. Also our new technologies are way in advance of anything we’ve had in the past and even a small yacht can now pinpoint its position to a matter of metres on the ocean. So if we do have any shipping catastrophes in the future they are likely to be down to human error.

“even a small yacht can now pinpoint its position to a matter of metres”

I too sail a small yacht in and around NW Scotland and, because I lack all but the most basic GPS, compasses and echo sounder, greatly value our lighthouses – albeit, unmanned. You will know that whenever NATO carry out exercises in the Minch, warships regularly cause GPS screens to go blank!!!  Serious accidents are not unknown.

You are referring to an exercise 2 years ago where warships blocked GPS for 20 miles. There were no accidents but due to complaints Warships in UK waters are now banned from blocking GPS. I’m not sure about other navies though.

Not every small boat has radar… not all coastlines are outlined by light pollution.

But most people now have mobile phones/iPads/Tablets with GPS.

Please, please, please do not go to sea relying on an iPad/phone etc for navigation! Road signs, and indeed ‘roads’ themselves are fairly limited at sea in my experience.

I can see one of our oldest lighthouses from here. It is on the top of St Catherine’s Down and known locally as the Pepperpot. It was built by local people as a punishment for buying smuggled wine. There was an oratory attached to it at one time to say prayers for the souls of the shipwrecked of whom there were many and the graves in the churchyard will attest. Although high up it wasn’t much use as the mist which frequently covers that part of the coast line blocked out the light when it was most needed and many ships went aground on the notorious Atherfield ledge. The new lighthouse built by the shore is a beautiful building and it would be a great shame if it were to become just another house, although coastal erosion and land slips might put off anyone but the most foolhardy from purchasing.

Foolish idea turning these off. Given potential failures of equipment these are very useful as a last backup. Oh well I’m sure it saves some middle managers budget some money somewhere.

This is a shame, lighthouses are exciting. I don’t think it’s possible to go on holidays to the coast without spending some time watching out for the distant lights and trying to identify them. I know we used to look forward to foggy days so we could hear their fog horns going off.

And at night, if you were staying in a house nearby, some of the beam would sweep around the bedroom from time to time.

Many years ago I recall reading an article in some sailing magazine. Title was The Antikythera Light. The author told of sailing through a storm in the Eastern Med. He had been at sea for days on end and the storm had bounced his small boat around quite a bit. This was long before GPS and he didn’t know exactly where he was. He knew he was approaching the Greek islands and some very dangerous and rocky shores. Then, flickering on the horizon in the far distance and through the storm…a flashing light. Lights flash in timed sequences and those are indicated on charts. He identified this one as the light on Antikythera, the island in the center of the passage through into the Aegean Sea.

Now he knew where he was. Now he was safe. He wrote of his grateful appreciation, not only for the light keeper whose job it was to help people the keeper would never see, but to the society that posted the man there and built the tower and light that led him to safety out of a storm, money spent for no special benefit to the community but only to the benefit of passing strangers in need of help.It was a wonderful essay on how humanity consists of people doing altruistic things, not only for strangers, but for strangers they would never know needed the help. Lighthouses are a symbol of what is best in all of us.

A good few years ago we did the soundtrack to this short documentary about the some of the last people to man the lighthouses, they tell their stories and explain how automation affected them, very sad some of it: http://vimeo.com/m/71760571

Bishop Rock lighthouse – the westernmost point of the Isles of Scilly – that’s the one I’d most like to go inside. And I’d pay good money to see the BBC documentary about it, by Tony Parker, first shown just over 40 years ago:  http://trinityhousehistory.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/on-this-day-in-trinity-house-history-6-february/

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Two of the World’s Oldest Lighthouses

Under the title Can you shed light on it? by the Grimsby Telegraph and posted: on May 01, 2014 Tim Mickleburgh said:

The world’s oldest lighthouse (the Pharos of Alexandria) was built by Sostratus of Cnidus around 270 BC.

Spurn

The oldest UK lighthouse? The lighthouse and lightkeeper’s house at Spurn.

It was a pyramid-shaped tower of white marble on the island of Pharos (in Greek the word Pharos means lighthouse) off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt.

It was estimated to be 400ft tall, and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a listing designated by Antipater of Sidon in the second century BC.

This formed part of Alexander’s Harbour, Alexander being of course Alexander the Great.

Alas, the lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in 1375 AD.

Unfortunately, the Guinness Book Of Records never provided a listing for the oldest British lighthouse. – read more

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The oldest lighthouse in my home country of Canada was built in 1713 and went into service at the French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in 1734.

What is the name and location of the oldest lighthouse in your country? Write me a note and let me know and I will post it here.

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THE world’s oldest lighthouse was built by Sostratus of Cnidus around 270 BC, writes Tim Mickleburgh.

It was a pyramid-shaped tower of white marble on the island of Pharos (in Greek the word Pharos means lighthouse) off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt.

It was estimated to be 400ft tall, and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a listing designated by Antipater of Sidon in the second century BC.

This formed part of Alexander’s Harbour, Alexander being of course Alexander the Great.

Alas, the lighthouse was destroyed by an earthquake in 1375 AD.

Unfortunately, the Guinness Book Of Records never provided a listing for the oldest British lighthouse.

So when this came up as a quiz question recently, I was stumped, expressing ignorance when the answer was given as Spurn Head.

This though set me to do some private research.

Fortunately I have the book written by Kenneth E Hartley and Howard M Frost, The Spurn Head Railway (Second Edition 1988). It gives reference to a hermit named Reedbarrow being responsible for erecting a lighthouse in c1427, going on to state that “following the unrecorded disappearance of Reedbarrow’s early lighthouse a London man, Justinian Angel, erected a lighthouse at Spurn during the years 1673-4”. There is no claim however that the lighthouse was Britain’s first.

So I then turned to Lynn F Pearson’s Piers And Other Seaside Architecture (Second Edition 2011) for enlightenment. But it wasn’t to be, as lighthouses don’t feature within its pages.

The AA Book Of The Seaside (1972) is of more help, telling readers that only 11 lighthouses existed by the 17th century, all on the south coast. It adds that the Roman Pharos in Dover castle was “one of the earliest surviving examples … from this dim brazier … lighthouses have slowly developed”.

This though presumably wasn’t a standalone building, unlike that at Spurn Head.

Thus I await further information from amongst your erudite readership!

Do you know which is Britain’s oldest lighthouse? If you can help, then please write to Bygones, Grimsby Telegraph, 80 Cleethorpe Road, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire DN31 3EH or you can e-mail bygones@grimsbytelegraph.co.uk

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A Lighthouse For Aircraft

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Photo courtesy of Bretagne Phare St-Mathieu Facebook page

What a beautiful lens! What a unique story.

On Facebook the United States Lighthouse Society page shared a photo of the Brittany (Bretagne), France St. Mathieu lighthouse lens. It was borrowed from the  Bretagne Phare St-Mathieu Facebook page.

In French the page says:

La saison démarre bien, j’ai déjà accueillit beaucoup de monde. Et qui dit nouvelle saison , dit “Nuit du Phare”. La première nuit de cette année aura lieu lundi 5 mai à partir de 21h30. Toutes les 1/2h. un groupe de 20 personnes pourra venir admirer la mer d’Iroise et ses phares à partir du chemin de ronde. Visite uniquement sur réservation au 0298890017 ou 0686310347.

which roughly translates (with the help of Google Translate) into: Continue reading

Light at the End of the World

Light at the End of the World
Three Months on Cape St. James, 1941

by Hallvard Dahlie (orig from Raincoast 18, 1998) with notes from Jim Derham-Reid (last keeper on Cape St. James before automation)

Image1A strange interlude in my brief seafaring life took place in the fall of 1941, when I signed on as assistant lighthouse keeper at Cape St. James, a light perched on top of a three-hundred-foot rock at the very southern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands. I had quit school earlier that year, at the age of sixteen, and found a job on the CGS Alberni, a lighthouse tender operating out of Prince Rupert. But when she had to go into dry dock at the beginning of September for a new wartime grey paint job and a bit of refurbishing, I chose to take a stint out at the lighthouse rather than scrape barnacles and paint for three months. Continue reading

A Lighthouse in Iceland

1488255_759521697393799_359641845_nThe photo above appeared on Facebook recently. It is a photo of the Þrídrangar lighthouse (pronounciation unknown) in Iceland. According to Timothy Harrison, lighthouse historian and Editor in Chief of Lighthouse Digest magazine, the photo was first posted on I heart Reykjavík on Facebook. There they say:

How would you like to be a lighthouse guard in this lighthouse? Þrídrangar are located 10km west of the Westman Islands and the lighthouse was built in 1939 (probably the most challenging lighthouse ever built in Iceland). I’m not sure I would visit even if I was offered it. Image via www.sigling.is

 The Google Map below shows the location. Zoom in on it.  Continue reading

Private (Model) Lighthouse For Sale

Private (Model) Lighthouse For Sale – via Journal Pioneer

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Wall looks out from the top floor his lighthouse.

 

New Annan fisherman looking to sell unique lawn ornament
NEW ANNAN – Anybody want to buy a lighthouse? Chris Wall of New Annan is selling his.

It’s three storeys tall and is a scaled down replica of the Cape Tryon Light.

It’s currently sitting on Wall’s front lawn in New Annan, on the headlands of the Barbara Weit River.

Anyone who’s driven by his property would probably have noticed the structure – it’s pretty hard to miss. The lighthouse is the pride and joy of his carpentry hobby, said the career lobster fisherman, but he’s recently decided that it’s time to move on to his next challenge.

So he’s offering up his lighthouse to a good home for $15,000. . . . more

Continue reading