Mise Tales Forty-Six

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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The Lightkeeper’s Wife – Sarah Johnson’s salty debut novel, The Lightkeeper’s Wife, is everything historical fiction should be: an ode to a simpler period and place (in this case, 19th century Cape Cod), while complicating issues that are relevant today – making and breaking gender and sexual norms. – see more

Lady pirates & lighthouse keepers cross paths in Provincetown writer’s new novel

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 1924385_348014102039028_7691230979096215584_nAre you into collecting lighthouse memorabilia?

Here’s the September 22, 1945 issue of the “Saturday Evening Post,” featuring West Quoddy Lighthouse. It’s for sale on Amazon. – as mentioned by Elinor DeWire on Facebook 

 

 

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Interesting reading – The Lighthouse of Strombolicchio in Italy http://www.amusingplanet.com/2014/09/the-lighthouse-of-strombolicchio.html

 

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28 Breathtaking Photos Of Lighthouses That Have Stood The Test Of Time – the title explains it all – wonderful photography, beautiful lighthouses worldwide!

 

 

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Great_Bear_videoGreat Bear Wild is a photo and movie documentary about the undersea life that controls the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada.It explains why we must keep this part of our coast pollution free.

Mise Tales Forty-Three

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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 CruiseFrom the Toronto Sun online for May 17, 2014 comes the article  See Canada from the sea on a boutique cruise

See Canada from the sea just as the explorers did and discover some of the country’s vast but relatively untouched wilderness.

Maple Leaf Adventures, a boutique expedition cruise company, explores Haida Gwaii (Islands of the People), formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. . . . more

For more information: mapleleafadventures.com and Holland America Line: hollandamerica.com.

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THquincentenary_1The history of Trinity House, UK On This Day in Trinity House History – 20 May 1514– The Big One! . . .

. . . and a Lighthouse Photography Competition also from Trinity House. Please check it out and vote. Excellent photos!

 

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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

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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Mise Tales Forty-One

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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Aaron Priest Photography Photo Keywords  lighthouseSome beautiful night-time photos of lighthouses, some in a 360º panorama format from Aaron D. Priest on his website aaronpriestphoto.com.

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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

It’s Old, But Not The Oldest!

On September 21, 2013 I wrote Message in a Bottle which described a 107 year old message-in-a-bottle find. Later on October 29, 2013 I wrote More Messges in Bottles which described more messages found in bottles. It seems that everybody loves to do it!

Today I found this story in The Local – Germany’s News in English dated March 07, 2014.

Fishermen find oldest message in a bottle

German fishermen made a surprising catch this week when they pulled the oldest recorded message in a bottle out of the sea. A man from Berlin scribbled the note 101 years ago. . . . more

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What initially looked like a normal, discarded beer bottle, nestled among fish in the Maria I’s nets, turned out to be a record-breaking find – as it contained a postcard dated May 17th, 1913 written by a man named Richard Platz.

A modest Danish postcard with two German stamps on it and a polite message asking the finder to send it on to his address in Berlin; it appears that Platz could have been trying to save on international postage fees.

But the card never arrived, instead landing in the hands of fishermen from Heikendorf in Schleswig Holstein, on Tuesday – over 100 years later.

“I had it in my hand, but then a colleague told me there was something in it,” skipper Konrad Fischer told regional newspaper the Kieler Nachrichten, explaining he was ready to throw it back into the Baltic.

“When I saw the date I got really excited,” he said.

Until now, the oldest message in a bottle listed in the Guinness Book of Records was 97 years old when found in 2012, making Fischer’s a potential record breaker.

“If the message is really this old, maybe a museum would be interested,” said Fischer, who will be taking his bottled post to experts for them to take a closer look.

Fischer has been a fisherman for 50 years and in that time has found mines, bombs, torpedoes and a corpse in the sea.

He told news agency DPA that he was not sure yet what he would do with the bottle but would “maybe auction it to the highest bidder”. [/private] Continue reading

What Light Is That?

What light is that? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Maybe when reading a magazine, seeing an advertisement, or watching a movie – what lighthouse is that? Where is that lighthouse?

Harbour

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MV5BMTQ3MDA4MDIyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTg0Njk4._V1_SX214_Well this happened to me while I was watching the first of the Jason Bourne movies  – The Bourne Identity (IMDb)

Eight (8) minutes into the DVD movie (see screen shot at right) the fishboat that rescued him from the ocean enters Cassis harbour (according to the book by Robert Ludlum) and we see this green light at the end of a breakwater. Unfortunately the movie does not follow the book at all (“The novel is wildly

Cassis harbour light look likes this

Cassis harbour light look likes this

wildly different from the movie.”) and I have no idea where this harbour is located. It is definitely not Cassis harbour near Marseille, France. If you look at the film you will see as they enter the harbour there is a shipyard on the left side – there is definitely no shipyard in the photo on the right. Of the fifteen places listed in the IMDb website for the film locations, none of them apply to this harbour.

So, where is it? Do you know? If so please let me know so I can inform the readers as well.

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Lighthouses of Brazil

A friend of mine from the Coast Guard, Abe VanOeveren, now retired, loves to travel to Brazil. Knowing I was running this site he asked if I wanted photos of the lighthouses he comes across in his travels. My answer was a definite YES!

So, below are photos sent to me by Abe. I am appending his comments as he wrote them as I myself know nothing about the lighthouses, so I will leave it to my expert. He says:

Hi John, Last email you mentioned lights in pictures. I’m not sure if you have a place on your website for pictures of lights from other parts of the world. In my travels in Brazil I’m always on the lookout for lights big and small and sometimes it is surprising what shows up. They are not all grand structures like estevan or Father Point flying buttresses but there are some beauties on the Brazilian coast . . .I’ll send some pictures of lights in Brazil, but the files are big (3mb) and take forever to upload (also to download). Abe

 

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– photo © A. VanOeveren

 

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– photo © A. VanOeveren

This one is in Manaus; Brazil, on the shore of the Amazon river. It is attached to the Alfandega (customs house), and generally off limits to the public. I had to ask for permission to go into the walled compound to get close to it. Light probably has been shrouded for years, so its  hard to tell what kind of lens is inside. Continue reading