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09 March 2017

No22 POST – DASSEN ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE COMPLETED

This lighthouse was undergoing maintenance during my visit, as I mentioned in an earlier post. Francesco Guerrini the owner of Viacom (the maintenance contractor) accompanied us on the trip. The maintenance work has since been completed and he has kindly sent me the following photographs. Thank you, Francesco.

Firstly, two members of his staff, suspended precariously from the top of the lighthouse tower, painting the exterior. Secondly, the lighthouse in its final bright livery, red and white. It will be an icon for years to come. This is a job well done in a remote location. Thirdly, an exciting side benefit to be seen while in transit to the island.
 
 
 
 

06 March 2017

No 21 POST – NORTH HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

This lighthouse is also within an SANDF controlled area on the Northern headland. Time permitted us to travel from the South head around the Langebaan Lagoon and Saldanha Bay with Sammy leading the way.
Approaching the headland one passes Malgas Island and the much smaller West Coast Island, with North Head lighthouse visible in the distance. There is a remarkable similarity between the two heads and their adjacent islands.
 
 
North Head lighthouse was built in 2005. The lighthouses on each head are so similar that the same plans were probably used to construct the lighthouses only 5 years apart. This lighthouse is also in excellent condition. John took the trouble to count the steps; 102 in the spiral steel staircase.
 
 
 
Thanks again to our host, Sammy, for allowing us to accompany him and his colleague on their routine maintenance duties. It was a great day.

 

No 20 POST – SOUTH HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

This lighthouse is located on the Southern headland of Saldanha Bay and is within an area controlled by the Defence Force within the West Coast National Park. It was thus necessary to accompany LNS staff on their routine maintenance visit, as their vehicle has the necessary access permit.

On the drive to the head one has a good view of Jutten Island, one of many in the bay. 
Being such a beautiful day, we opted to walk the last stretch, particularly as it was downhill. The walk presented the opportunity of photographing ourselves.
 
 
The North Head lighthouse viewed across the windless bay entrance.
 
 
This South Head lighthouse was commissioned in year 2000, replacing the previous structure. It is in excellent condition. Once maintenance activities had been completed Sammy was available to capture our presence for the proof photograph. The pinkish structure in the foreground is a water trough for the antelope in this reserve.
 

 
This was a most enjoyable lighthouse visit and we record our thanks to our hosts Samuel Adams and his colleague, Carl.
 







 

04 March 2017

No 19 POST – DASSEN ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE

This lighthouse is located at the Southern end of Dassen Island. The island and lighthouse are not open to the public. It was thus necessary to request a favour of the lighthouse authorities to be permitted to accompany their operational personnel on one of their visits. As luck would have it, the lighthouse was undergoing maintenance and a visit was necessary at the time I was in the Cape Town area.

The semi rigid rubber duck is based in Cape Town, but was launched from the small harbour at Yzerfontein.
 
 
 
The jetty on Dassen IsIand is located in natural harbour called House Bay and is ideal for landing in South-easterly weather. Fishing boats also take temporary anchorage in this bay. Cape Nature buildings are sited at the head of the jetty.
 
 
 
Although offered a ride, I opted to walk the 2km from the jetty to the lighthouse while the lighthouse staff and contractors travelled in an LDV based on the island. Fuel and provisions were also being delivered to the team of contractors residing on the island for the duration of the renovations to the lighthouse.
The purpose of walking was to view the wildlife on the island. There are large numbers of rabbits, tortoises and sea birds on the island. The rabbits were surprisingly skittish and a photograph could not be taken. One of the contractors mentioned a resident owl which might explain the skittish behaviour. Southern Blackbacked Gulls saw me as a predator and swooped noisily by. Tortoises were slower to move away! The tortoises are believed to be Angulate Tortoises, but I did not pick up same to confirm the identification.
 
Pictures were taken as I approached the lighthouse.
  
 
The lighthouse is built on a granite outcrop and the attractive base is constructed of granite blocks mined on the island. The tower is constructed of individual cast iron plates bolted together as shown in the internal picture below. It must have been an enormous task landing these plates on the island and then lifting them during the construction in the early 1890’s.
 
 
 
The views from the top are spectacular. The second (below) shows the sparse vegetation toward the jetty and the Cape Nature’s buildings.
 
 
Barnie Germishuys, pictured below, was my host for the day and sincere thanks are recorded for the privilege granted to me. The renovations underway include the painting of the lighthouse. Notice the worker at the base of the tower (right hand side) suspended from the upper platform. He is chipping off the old paint with a pneumatic or electric hammering device. Being a cast iron tower, the noise was deafening when I ascended inside. The grey colour is an undercoat which will be covered in white to produce the red and white bands which identify this lighthouse.
 
There are some sad stories related to this island though. Those are cormorants nesting on the remains of the bow and rabbits scurried under for protection.
 
 
And then departure, after a very interesting day, with Barnie skippering the rubber duck.  Thank you.
 
 
 

 

 

No 18 POST – GREEN POINT LIGHTHOUSE

This is the oldest lighthouse in South Africa having been commissioned in 1824 and is now a National Monument. The purpose of the visit was twofold; to visit the headquarters of the Lighthouse and Navigation Services (LNS) business unit of Transnet and to obtain the proof photograph.

 
On arrival I met Ms Tasneem Jacobs who, amongst other functions, is responsible for the reservations of the four cottages available to the public. Reservations can be made by E mail at lighthouse.tourism@transnet.net or by phoning  021 449 2400. Having stayed at the Danger Point cottage, I can vouch for the high standard of this accommodation.
Green Point lighthouse also offers a self-conducted tour of the lighthouse for a small fee with very detailed returnable information sheets to illustrate and explain the structure and its exhibits. The beautiful wooden staircase (see below) is the original installation and the lead safety treads are unique. The thickness of the walls of the tower was striking, at minimum one metre. An open air viewing platform is accessible from just below the lantern house, (views below).
 
 
 
This lighthouse is at Mouille Point even though it called the Green Point lighthouse. It is very easily accessible from the beach road with adequate parking and was thus an easy tick in our quest.

 
 

 

No 17 POST – LESS ACCESSIBLE LIGHTHOUSES

John and I have just completed a short trip to view the lighthouses at,
·         Mouille Point (Green Point lighthouse),
·         Dassen Island,
·         South Head, Saldanha Bay and
·         North Head, Saldanha Bay.
The description “less accessible” is applied as special permission had to be secured from appropriate authorities to access the last 3 mentioned above. In fact, we were privileged to be able to access these sites and now record our thanks to the lighthouse personnel who assisted us. Individual posts follow.

Dassen Island :

 
South Head :
 
North Head :



06 December 2016

No 16 - CAPE INFANTA LIGHTHOUSE


No 16 POST – CAPE INFANTA LIGHTHOUSE
This lighthouse is inside the De Hoop Nature Reserve, so special arrangements had to be made to access the site. The De Hoop personnel were very helpful and we were permitted to travel on a sand and limestone track for 2 hours (37 km) to reach the lighthouse. The last few kilometres is heavily overgrown with rooikrans. The first view was thus a relief.



It was a beautiful, windless day for the culmination of our trip.


The return trip was faster taking 11/2 hours. There is a shorter route from the village of Infanta, but because of 2 sets of locked gates, one would probably need the assistance of the lighthouse personnel.

The lighthouse is actually sited on Uiterstepunt which is West of Cape Infanta. This was originally privately owned property which was expropriated by Armscor, later Denel. The land is still owned by Denel, but custodianship has been granted to Cape Nature. The actual Cape Infanta point is very close by and was photographed in the afternoon sun.
 

05 December 2016

No15 POST – STRUISPUNT LIGHTHOUSE


No15 POST – STRUISPUNT LIGHTHOUSE
This lighthouse is a minor light, sometimes referred to as the beacon (die baaken) by the locals. It is not listed on the official Transnet list of 45 lighthouses. It is a concrete structure with a light that was only recently installed. It warns of the extensive Bulldog Reef that extends off to the South-east.



The access road to the South-west of Arniston is of limestone and sand. The latter is liable to be blown away thus affecting the condition of the road. During our visit it was impassable at the steep section descending from the cliffs to the point.



While in this area one should visit THE cave which is accessed from this final parking area. There are many other smaller caves under the cliffs before reaching this point.

04 December 2016

No 14 POST – CAPE AGULHAS LIGHTHOUSE


No 14 POST – CAPE AGULHAS LIGHTHOUSE
A lighthouse at the Southern tip of Africa is what the early mariners needed. This is it, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. It was built from locally hewn limestones blocks in 1848, largely at the insistence of the public. Today it is a national monument and in good condition, as seen in the views from the land side and sea side.




Hold your hat, as the wind is still blowing. High seas and strong winds all along this Southern coastline explain the high number of wrecks. A more recent one is the Meisho Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel, which came ashore in 1982. The bow section is still standing and is much photographed by the tourists. All 17 seamen managed to swim ashore.



This area is well frequented by tourists, so there is plenty of accommodation. We stayed in one of the SANP chalets, all of which have a seaview. A must of course, for all tourists, is a photograph at the Southernmost point of the continent.




The lighthouse is open to the public for a small fee. After a steep climb, there are good views from an outside walkway below the light. Tidal fish traps are visible to the East. While at the lighthouse many visitors miss two interesting features.

The grave of Daisy Rowe is in the island in the car park. She was the daughter of the lighthouse keeper and died of diptheria. Her exact date of passing is uncertain, as the tombstone and the cross show different dates.
There is also a small cave in the limestone just to the West of the lighthouse.

When one is in the area, a visit to the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp is certainly worthwhile.