Lighthouses Attract Birds!

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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

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 

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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

Britain’s Royal Mint Honours 500 Years of Trinity House

Britain’s Royal Mint honours 500 years of Trinity House 20 May 2014 The Royal Mint is this week commemorating the 500th anniversary of Trinity House (20th May), the organisation that has safeguarded the lighthouses, pilot ships and coastal waters of Britain since being awarded a Royal Charter to do so by King Henry VIII.

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Silver

 

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Gold

To mark the milestone event The Royal Mint has produced limited edition commemorative Trinity House-themed £2 coins in sterling silver and 22 carat gold. Its striking lighthouse design also appears on 2014-dated circulating versions of the £2 coin which people are likely to find in their change from October this year. Each coin is edged with the words ‘SERVING THE MARINER’. 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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Vanishings – The Missing Lighthouse Keepers

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

 

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Mise Tales Thirty-Four

 

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

Jaw-dropping animated video on overfishing… It’s time for change!

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The Costa Concordia rests on its side on the morning of January 14, 2012.

 The Costa Concordia rests on its side on the morning of January 14, 2012 (click for larger photo)

 Yes, it is a photo of the Costa Concordia, aground on the rocks, but did anyone else notice the lighthouse in the photo under which the lifeboats are all clustered? See my article Lighthouses Visible in the Costa Concordia Disaster.

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Aniva RockAniva rock [private]Sakhalinskaya Oblast, Russia[/private]- A formal penal island used by the Russians, Aniva was once sought after by both the Russia and Japan. This now Russian controlled territory sits uninhabited in the seas between Japan and the eastern coast of Russia.

This photo story appeared on Distractify and was entitled The 38 Most Haunting Abandoned Places On Earth. For Some Reason, I Can’t Look Away… Continue reading

Mise Tales Thirty-Three

 

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

 

Tell Tale Productions Inc’s. documentary “Lighthouses” – the film has been completed and has had its world broadcast premiere on CBC Television’s Land and Sea Sunday, November 24, 2013. If you missed it you can see it online on CBC Land and Sea.

Lighthouses Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-eyXSyl0Og&feature=youtu.be
 
Lighthouses Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/580960155309104/

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Another beautiful video called “Salmon Confidential” showing the life cycle of Sockeye Salmon, and the problems they are encountering now with salmon farms, and other unknown fish diseases. Thirty-six minutes long but well-worth the watch because of the beautiful photography of wildlife on the British Columbia coast, both above and below the water. 

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The Canadian Coast Guard HQ at Victoria, BC

 The Canadian Coast Guard HQ at Victoria, British Columbia–what a beautiful building! This view is from the Blackball Ferry deck on approach to the harbor. Those buoys look like Dreidels lined up on the rocks for Hanukkah! – posted on Facebook by author and friend of mine Elinor DeWire 

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Peters & May Commercial ships 30M hovercraft from UK to Canada

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Canada just acquired a new (used) hovercraft from England. It was shipped to Vancouver, British Columbia by the boat shipping company Peters & May. On their Facebook page they posted some wonderful photos of the loading of the hovercraft on one of their ships. Quite a feat! 

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 And from the Fisheries & Oceans Canada media website:

Ministers Shea and Wong Announce the Arrival and Name of a New Hovercraft

November 27, 2013

CCGS MoytelVancouver, British Columbia – The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors) and Member of Parliament for Richmond, today announced the arrival in Canada of the new hovercraft to be stationed at Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia – the CCGS Moytel

[private]“Our Government is committed to investing where it counts in the interest of the Canadian Coast Guard.  In fact, our Government has invested more in the Canadian Coast Guard than any government in Canadian history,” said Minister Shea. “We will continue to ensure the men and women of the Canadian Coast Guard have the equipment they need to do the important work we ask of them.”

Upon completion of construction, the new hovercraft was shipped to British Columbia and will soon travel to Sea Island. Following a period of training for Coast Guard staff and inspection to ensure the vessel’s optimal condition following shipping, the vessel will be accepted into the Coast Guard fleet.

“Our investment in the CCGS Moytel, a world-class modern hovercraft, is another example of our Government’s commitment to ensure the safety of fishermen, recreational boaters, and sailors in and around Vancouver Harbour,” said Minister Wong. “The name of the new vessel is in Halq’eméylem, in recognition of our First Nations’ contribution to the province’s history, culture and economy.”

The new hovercraft will be named the CCGS Moytel. Moytel is a Halq’emélem word meaning “to help each other.” Canadian Coast Guard vessels are given names that promote Canadian sovereignty, culture, geography and history. Names of vessels are selected to raise the profile of vessels and the work they do by honouring and celebrating people and places of regional and national significance.

As a replacement for the CCGS Penac, the new Moytel will be a heavy-duty, more versatile amphibious vehicle capable of patrolling inland waters. A larger more powerful vessel than the CCGS Penac, it has a greater range of capabilities and features including a bow ramp that will enable it to transport supplies such as rescue equipment and vehicles.

Since 2009, the Government of Canada has delivered over 100 vessels to the Coast Guard, including: 6 Hero-class Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels (CCGS Private Robertson V.C.CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., CCGS Corporal Teather C.V, CCGS Constable Carrière, CCGS G. Peddle S.C and CCGS McLaren); the hovercraft CCGS Mamilossa; 5 Search and Rescue Lifeboats; 2 Specialty Vessels; 3 Near-Shore Fishery Research Vessels; 30 environmental barges; and 60 small craft. [/private]

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And from a former lighthouse keeper and friend of mine, Chris Mills, comes this wonderful view of a Fresnel lens – photos and a video showing the lens in action.

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