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.


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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Lighthouses Attract Birds!


Bardsey Island lighthouse, UK

It sounds impossible, but the very bright light emanating from a lighthouse at night attracts  birds. This happens on the most remote of lighthouses, some far out at sea.

What interest would birds have in a lighthouse?

Well sometimes it is because the light beacon attracts numerous insects which the birds feed upon. In other cases birds fly to the lighthouse lamp because it is the only attraction in their universe, just like a boat will navigate towards the safety of a lighthouse. 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

Animated Map of Global Wind Conditions

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_01

Earth wind map showing winds over the Atlantic Ocean


earth wind map_02

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!


Reprint – Sentinels Encased in Ice

Sentinels Encased in Ice by Elinor DeWire

from WeatherWise November-December 2011 




The ice was here, the ice was there
The ice was all around;
I t cracked and growled, and roared and howled
Like noise in a swound…
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Caption: St. Joseph Pierhead in Michigan as it appeared on December 20, 2010. Continue reading

Vanishings – The Missing Lighthouse Keepers

These two tales on Youtube were brought to my attention. Quite the mystery! 


  Continue reading

What a Nice Christmas Present

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.

Floating Instrument Platform (FLIP)



What do you think a lighthouse keeper would do if he spotted this floating on the ocean in front of his lighthouse? My first reaction would be to run and call for help!

This article came from the Military Photography website on Facebook with credit to  Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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!

More information and links on this Wikipedia article.

Mise Tales Twenty-Seven


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

I found two new lighthouses – not manned, but not in my lists. One is:



The Santa Marta Lighthouse and Museum located in Cascais, Portugal




1 March 2010 | By Catherine Slessor

  • Poised on  a rocky promontory, the array of new and refurbished structures clusters round the base of the lighthouse
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  • Poised on  a rocky promontory, the array of new and refurbished structures clusters round the base of the lighthouse
  • The warped cuboids frame a promenade overlooking the harbour
  • New parts are simple white volumes, like pieces of crisply folded paper
  • Existing structures are clad in tiles so they become mute and abstracted
  • The site, prior to remodelling, showing the existing buildings
  • The bright outside walls belie the dark interior spaces
  • Inside the  museum café
  • Exhibition spaces possess theatrically dark interiors

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A highly poetic abstract exploration for Portugal’s first lighthouse museum. Photography by Fernado Guerra

Some time before Eduardo Souto de Moura’s Paula Rego museum (AR November 2009) added the coastal town of Cascais to the gazetteer of Portuguese contemporary architecture, Aires Mateus put a marker down with the Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum. Though a smaller project and one that involved melding together historical fragments with new interventions, nonetheless it resonates intimately with site and place while exploring a highly poetic language of rigour and abstraction.

Based in Lisbon, Francisco and Manuel Aires Mateus are brothers who graduated in successive years in the late 1980s from the Technical University of Lisbon’s architecture faculty. Both worked with Gonçalo Byrne before establishing their own practice while still only in their mid-twenties. The pair epitomise an emerging generation of Portuguese architects who are now making the transition to becoming more fully established. This project, for Portugal’s first (and possibly only) museum dedicated to lighthouses, represents a consolidation of familiar ideas and ambitions – the play of mute, austere volumes, a heightened sensitivity to materials and the notion of served and servant spaces.

Poised on a rocky promontory, the array of new and refurbished structures clusters round the base of the lighthouse

Portugal’s coast is studded with relics of its rich seafaring history. Set on a rocky promontory near Cascais’ harbour, the site was once a 17th-century fortress that formed part of the town’s maritime defences. During the 19th century, the fortress lost its strategic importance and a lighthouse was built to aid commercial shipping. Poised on the tip of the promontory, the striped, pepper-pot structure is topped by a small glass beacon. Now automated but still operational, the lighthouse anchors the site and forms the focus of the museum.

Clustered around its base is an ensemble of three existing buildings now refurbished to house new exhibition spaces and an auditorium.Though the simple geometry of each structure is still legible, they are wrapped in a uniform carapace of glossy white tiles and effectively transformed into abstract representations of their original historic selves.The tiles are laid slightly unevenly so the apparently plain surfaces catch the light and have a subtle iridescent quality.

The white exteriors conceal a theatrically dark inner realm, with exhibits – old lighthouse beacons, maritime paraphernalia, maps and photographs – set against black walls, floors and ceilings.

A new single-storey volume extends along the west edge of the site, framing a pleasant promenade with views over the harbour and sea. This new part contains the museum’s servant spaces – café, offices and WCs linked by a circulation spine. Here the orthogonal geometry is subverted, with each function precisely articulated in a sculptural extrusion, so that the building resembles a folded and twisted piece of origami. Walls are rendered white, rather than tiled, with large, vitrine-like windows set flush in the smooth surfaces.

Though the ostensible simplicity of two different kinds of white buildings might be easily apprehended by Portugal’s relatively unsophisticated construction industry, this is still admirably nuanced architecture. Its effect lies in considered subtleties: how materials are juxtaposed, how light is handled and how site connects with history and place.

Architect Aires Mateus 
Structural engineer Joel Sequeira
Services engineer Joule



gásadalur village in the faroe islandsOne 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.

st catherines isle of wight

Something Even Better?


photo – Stuart Gradon Calgary Herald

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 photo is taken from a 2011 story by Calgary Herald reporterJamie Komarnicki Mystery and mountains: A look at Alberta forest fire spottersContinue reading