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.