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)
A 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 →
One of the duties of a lighthouse keeper is the reporting of the weather for the boats, aircraft and also for forecasting. One of the things reported is the wind speed. From all around the world the wind speed is recorded and reported from countless weather stations.
Below are two screenshots of a new webpage showing a:
Visualization of global weather conditions as forecast by supercomputers. Weather data, generated from numerical models at Earth.NullSchool.net,…
Earth wind map showing winds over the Atlantic Ocean
Earth wind map showing winds around the Philippines, with special consideration for the Tropical Depression in the lower right (the tight swirl)
The photos above are static screen shots – the website is live! Navigate around just like in Google Earth using your mouse and the scroll wheel. Zoom in, zoom out. Enjoy!
What a nice surprise! Today on Facebook the lighthouse keeper, Colin Toner, who is residing at my old workplace at McInnes Island posted a fantastic video of the lighthouse. Please watch in full screen to get the full effect.
Watch as the MBB105 helicopter approaches the island in the rain. You can see the rain striking the windscreen on the front of the helicopter.
Later get a tour of the light and a walk around the island in the stormy weather. Take note of the heavy seas. That is life in winter on the west coast of Canada.
Thanks Colin for the memories, and special thanks goes to Tineke Veenhoven for creating the film!
For a larger and higher quality version please go to Youtube. I had trouble getting it to embed here.
Launched in 1962, the bizarre research vessel Flip (Floating Instrument Platform) can go from a horizontal to vertical position while staying afloat and stable in heavy seas – even in 80-foot waves. That allows it to perform oceanographic research measurements with great accuracy. Inside the crew areas is a strange Escher-like world of doors in floors, portholes in ceilings, and tables bolted to walls. . . more
Later I was thinking it is too bad that this technology was not available for the Canadian weather ships that used to be off our Canadian coasts. They could have operated nicely with a ship that only rose three (3) inches in eighty (80) foot waves!
One on the Faroe Islands island of Vágar near this photo of Gásadalur village. One of two lighthouses on the island is located SE of the village on the entrance to the Sørvágsfjørd, which leads to the fishing port of Sørvágur on the southwest coast of Vágar. Located on a bluff on the south side of the fjord about 4 km (2.5 mi) west of Sørvágur.
I was going to post the above beautiful village photo on my page of Fantasy Lighthouses which will be coming up, but then I discovered it had an actual lighthouse of its own. How cool is that?
And to round things out, my recent story on Night Photos and the Lighthouse had some fantastic photos, but then this one below came to my attention, and I bring it to yours. It is St. Catherines Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight – beautiful photo.
Something Even Better than working on a lighthouse?
In an email with an ex British Columbia (BC) lighthouse keeper he mentioned that he was going to work in Alberta, Canada as a Fire Tower Lookout!
What does that have to do with lighthouses?
A lot from many people’s perspective! Both jobs have the isolation and romance that a lot of people seek in a job. When I was younger I know it was always in the back of my mind.
Again the same questions pop up – Wouldn’t it be lonely? What about wild animals? What happens if you hurt yourself? These and many more questions are asked, but to the adventurous, it is part of the adventure. Anyways, take a look at the photo at the top – that is an Alberta lookout tower but not as you or I probably imagined it – sitting on the ground!
The West Coast Trail is a 75 km (47 mi) long backpacking trail following the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It was built in 1907 to facilitate the rescue of survivors of shipwrecks along the coast, part of the treacherous Graveyard of the Pacific. It is now part of Pacific Rim National Park (Parks Canada and Wikipedia) and is often rated by hiking guides as one of the world’s top hiking trails.
The West Coast Trail is open from May 1 until September 30. It is accessible to hikers outside of this period but Parks Canada does not guarantee the accessibility of services (such as search and rescue) in the off season. It was originally known as the Dominion Lifesaving Trail (sometimes misidentified as the West Coast Lifesaving Trail).-Wikipedia
My daughter and her friend just finished hiking the West Coast Trail this Summer 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed it. (photos on Facebook) It is rough, it is challenging, but it is an adventure, and it is fun! The trail passes by two manned lighthouses (Pachena -photo above, and Carmanah – photo below) which date back to the time when the trail was Continue reading →
Photo credit: Dana Le via Flickr http://bit.ly/14zepJ9
I wrote an article entitled I Love Nightshift awhile ago. It is true, and now I know why I felt so healthy working on the lighthouse – lack of electric lights! It may not be for all people, but it did work for me. Working the night shift was done mostly in the dark as we had to watch for fog, visibility markers, lights from ships, flares, sea conditions, clouds – all only visible in the dark without electric lights.
Humans’ circadian clocks become skewed when they are exposed to electric lights but revert to a schedule more in tune with the sun when they go camping.
By Kate Yandell | August 6, 2013
Long-term exposure to electric lighting has fundamentally altered humans’ circadian rhythms, according to a study published in Current Biologylast week (August 1). But a week camping away from electric lights swiftly reset eight study participants’ circadian clocks.
“What’s remarkable is how, when we’re exposed to natural sunlight, our clocks perfectly become in sync in less than a week to the solar day,” coauthor Kenneth Wright, a University of Colorado Boulder integrative physiologist, said in a press release. Read more . . .