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02 April 2018


No 25 POST – SLANGKOP LIGHTHOUSE

Slangkop lighthouse is open to the public (for a small fee) and just a short drive from our base at Scarborough. Wednesday 8th November 2017 saw a significant reduction in the wind speed leading to a very pleasant visit. Cyril and Russell are the keepers and Cyril was our host that day.
 

All the lighthouses we have visited have a backup power system, generally in the form of a generator, as shown below.

This lighthouse is in very good condition. It is the tallest lighthouse in South Africa at 36 metres. The consequence is many steps internally, in fact 146. The lantern room was accessed and it provides spectacular views. The view Northward shows Kommetjie and Hout Bay further in the background.

 
The lenses and globes were observed in the lantern room. There are two 500 watt metal halide globes, but one is a spare. Note the inverted background due to the convex lens.
 
 
This lighthouse is right on the coast thus explaining the significant height.
 
 
On return to Scarborough we found helicopters still dousing the flare ups with sea water. The bucket has 3000 litres capacity and when full the helicopters could be heard labouring under the load. John’s house is in the foreground. Clearly the bucket is empty in the second picture. 
 
 


Drafted 4 Jan 18.     Finalised 19 Mar 18.


 


 
 

26 February 2018


No 24 POST – CAPE POINT LIGHTHOUSE
 John has a holiday home at Scarborough. This was our base for a short trip in November 2017. The house is located right next to the Cape Point Nature Reserve fence. The fence in the picture below features later in this Blog.

Tuesday 7 November 2017 produced a howling South-easter gusting up to 80 km/hr. On approaching Cape Point this was our first view of the “lighthouse”.
There are actually two lighthouses at Cape Point. The original (above) is now an observation post. It was built at a very elevated position which permitted mist and cloud to defeat its purpose. It was decommissioned when a second lighthouse was built closer to sea level. Further detail is contained in a plaque set into the wall of an adjacent building.
 
We met two lighthouse maintenance staff, who were to escort us, at the base of the funicular. This enabled us to drive up to the original lighthouse in their vehicle and enter the structure. 
The external balcony could also be accessed to experience the wind. The relatively horizontal portion of the pathway to the newer lighthouse is visible and also the view Northward to Smitswinkel Bay / Cape Town. 
The lighthouse maintenance staff advised against descending to the newer lighthouse, as the descent route followed a very steep unprotected path and stairway. In fact, they delay their maintenance visits in the event of wind such as we were experiencing. So the newer lighthouse at Cape Point remains unticked for now.
Later in the afternoon we checked the conditions for a boat trip to Roman Rock. Clearly no small vessels were putting to sea as shown by the swell breaking at its base.
At 04h00 the next morning John woke me to say there was some ACTION. A fire was sweeping through the Nature Reserve directly toward us.  Note the fence referred to earlier. The volunteer firefighters were doing outstanding work to protect the suburb.
 

 

 

 


That was a close call. John says the entertainment was on the house !
 
2 Jan 18

 

 


 

04 November 2017


No 23 POST : OUR NEXT TRIP.

We hibernated for winter, but with summer here, the project recommences. John has a holiday house at Scarborough. This will be our base in early November when we hope to visit the two lighthouses at Cape Point, Slangkop, and a short boat trip to Roman Rock at Simonstown, weather permitting.

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.