Tag Archives: Lighthouse

THEME DAY—ARCHITECTURE: A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 6)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

We started this series of articles about lighthouses by stating: “A unique structure seen in countries with rugged coastlines is a lighthouse. Tourists are always fascinated with lighthouses for a number of reasons, one being that they are always off and away from the general population; there is a mystique about them. Certain questions come to mind when you gaze upon them. Why are they standing in specific locations? Who maintains them and when? Does anyone live in them? How many lives have they helped to save? In addition, novels and movies have featured lighthouses, adding to their intrigue.”

We will wrap up the series with a unique group of lighthouses, too numerous to write about independently. The Thousand Islands consist of an archipelago of a group of over 1,800 islands in the St. Lawrence River. They stretch for about 50 miles (80 km), and straddle the border of the United States and Canada. There are numerous lighthouses throughout the Thousand Islands; some even provide accommodations. On a visit to the area, I took photographs of many of these lighthouses. Some seem identical, while others vary in sizes and shapes.

There are facilities on the Thousand Islands, that allow freshwater shipwreck diving, an offshoot of the many wrecks that are lying at the bottom of the seaway. It is small wonder then that so many lighthouses were constructed in the area.

Verse nine of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “The Lighthouse,” sums up our sentiment regarding lighthouses.

Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,

Shines on that inextinguishable light!

Lighthouse on 1000 Island
Lighthouse on 1000 Island

 

 

 

 

Lighthouse on 1000 Island

 

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THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 5)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

Captain James Cook, a British explorer, navigator, and cartographer, is said to have sailed from England in 1768, rounded Cape Horn, and arrived in the Tahiti in April 1769. His journey to Tahiti was to observe the Transit of Venus.

Captain Cook and his cohorts positioned themselves at Point Venus, a peninsula on the north coast of Tahiti, about 8 kilometres from Papeete, the current capital. There they carefully recorded their observations. A brief account from Cook’s log states:

 “…we had every advantage we could desire in Observing the whole of the passage of the Planet Venus over the Suns disk: we very distinctly saw an Atmosphere or dusky shade round the body of the Planet…” -James Cook, June 3, 1769.  It turned out that Cook’s observations were flawed, but still remarkably accurate when we consider the lack of technology at the time.

According to the NSA Eclipse Website, “The transit or passage of a planet across the face of the Sun is relatively rare occurrences. . . transits of Venus occur in pairs with more than a century separating each pair.”  The last transit observed was in June 2012; the next one should occur in December 2117.

There is a small monument at Point Venus to commemorate Cook’s Venus sighting, a monument to honour the film, Mutiny on the Bounty, which was filmed (parts of it) on the dark sands of Tahiti, and a lighthouse.

Monument in Tahiti to movie Mutiny on the Bounty

But it is Tahiti’s Point Venus Lighthouse that I find fascinating. Built in 1867, it is located within a park that incorporates community events and festivals. It was restored and extended in 1963. Tall and imposing it stands 108 ft (33 m) with a square tower and six stepped stories. It is one of the most unique lighthouses I have seen.

Point Venus Lighthouse, Tahiti

If you have not had the opportunity to read the previous 4 articles covering other fascinating lighthouses, click on these links. Part 1Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

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THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 4)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

In the movie, Casablanca, Rick’s Café is the place where people trying to escape the Nazis pour in to have a drink or two, and wait, hoping to receive exit visas to America. There is a modern-day Rick’s Café at Negril, on the western shores of Jamaica. Standing on a protruding craggy cliff that overlooks the Caribbean Sea, Rick’s Cafe is a place where tourists hangout, have a drink or two, and wait to watch the sun go down.  

Rick's Cafe, Jamaica, waiting for sunset
Rick’s Cafe, Jamaica, waiting for sunset

 The sunset at Rick’s Café is one of the most spectacular you can see anywhere if the clouds do not decide to foil your thrill. The first time I experienced the sunset at Rick’s, I stood there in awe for a while. The sun, a magnificent orangey-red ball, had positioned itself directly to the west of the café, and hovered above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Then as if on cue, at about 6:30, it began to descend, slowly, methodically. In about thirty minutes the orangey-red ball appeared to hit the water, and was immediately chopped in two! Long fingers of red-orange light illuminated the now dark, mysterious sea. Bit by bit the light dissipated until there was nothing left. I just stood there at the rails of the café, looking out to sea, wondering, what happened here?

I qualified my earlier statement with the words “…if the clouds do not decide to foil your thrill,” because on my second visit to Rick’s things did not go as expected. It was a beautiful warm evening in May. The café was jamming. People jostled to claim prime spots to watch the sunset; after all, many had come just for the thrill of it. I found the perfect spot, planted myself there, and waited with great anticipation to watch every detail, and every movement of the descending sun. Things were going great; the orangey-red ball kept moving westward. But halfway into the procedure a dark cloud that had been slowly creeping toward the sun extended its tentacles and covered the amazing orange-red globe. I was livid! “Move over, move over,” I kept saying in my mind. By the time the cloud moved on, the sun had lost its lustre. The resulting sunset was pale in comparison to the one I had seen the first time.

There is another interesting object a stone’s throw from Rick’s Café-The Negril Lighthouse.

Negril Lighthouse near Rick's Cafe, Jamaica
Negril Lighthouse near Rick’s Cafe, Jamaica

It stands majestically on the rocks. Built in 1894, it rises 66 feet high. The top of the lighthouse has a traditional lantern, which emits the protective flashes of light. Originally, the lantern was powered by gas, then changed to acetylene, then solar energy. The lighthouse is unique in that it was one of the first ones to be constructed from concrete. It contains a gallery at the top of the tower and tours are conducted up the 103 stairs so that you can experience an incredible bird’s-eye view of the coast.

Which is your favourite lighthouse?

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THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 3)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

The words “Martha’s Vineyard” conjures up affluence, fun, and the Kennedys. I recall reading somewhere that this place is the playground of the Kennedys. Of course, the Kennedy compound is not far away in Hyannis Port, on Cape Cod. I had always wanted to see and experience “The Vineyard.”  Besides, we can all remember that John Kennedy Jr. and his wife died while he was flying his private plane from NY to Martha’s Vineyard in 1999.

I had an opportunity to visit “The Vineyard” when I embarked on a New England cruise in 2013 which ended in Boston. Since my best friend from high school lives in Boston, I arranged to spend two extra days with her. “How about a day trip to the famous Martha’s Vineyard,” I asked. (Who knows, maybe we would run into a Kennedy!)  My friend, being the lovely person that she is, acquiesced to the request.

On a sunny day in May, two other friends joined us; we piled into my friend’s car and drove to the docks. We boarded a ferry with the big, bold “Martha’s Vineyard’s Ferry” written across the top, and headed into deep waters.  A ferry is the only way to get to the Vineyard unless you travel by plane or private boat. From the ferry the landscape was picturesque, and the waters fairly calm.

Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is divided into six towns, and although we did not visit all the towns, we spent a delightful day going from one place to another by shuttle buses or by walking. We spent time in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs which is known for its gingerbread cottages. We explored the quaint little shops, ate ice-cream while sitting on park benches, and dined at a crowded, rustic restaurant.

In Edgartown I spotted a gorgeous lighthouse. Standing off and away from the shops and houses, The Edgartown Lighthouse intrigued me. You can walk up to it. Why was it standing in that particular spot? It appeared clean and well-kept. Who maintains it?

The Edgartown Lighthouse, Martha's Vineyard
The Edgartown Lighthouse, Martha’s Vineyard

Built in 1828, on a small man-made island in the harbour, The Edgarton Lighthouse was constructed a quarter mile from shore. At first the only way to get to the lighthouse was by boat, but later a foot bridge was built. The original structure was replaced in 1938. Sand eventually filled in the area between the island and the mainland, so the current lighthouse stands on shore. There are five lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard.

Tell us about your favourite lighthouse.

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THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 2)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

Continuing with our previous “theme post” ( Part 1) we begin this article with verse 2 of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Lighthouse.”

Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
in the white tip and tremor of the face. . .

The island of Aruba is tiny—only 70 Square miles or 184 square kilometres in area—but it has some interesting features, and a fascinating history. It is a constituent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, therefore the citizens have a single nationality—they are Dutch.

Aruba is much different from the other Caribbean Islands; it is extremely dry. As I strolled about this tiny island, a desert came to mind—the landscape is strewn with cactus. The soil is barren because of the lack of rainfall. Another unique feature of the island is its lack of natural fresh water. Most drinking water is obtained by desalinating seawater.

In spite of the negative features mentioned, Aruba is a paradise for tourists. For one thing, you need not worry about rain; you are guaranteed sunshine. In addition, the beaches are lovely.

One of the most intriguing lighthouses that I have seen during my travels across the globe is located on this little morsel of paradise called Aruba! It is the quaint California Lighthouse. Originally  built in 1916 to warn ships from the coastline, it has become a landmark for tourists. The lighthouse was named after the S.S. California, a ship which sunk near the shore, and it stands on a small hill where one has a great view of the rocky coastline on the western side of the island and its sandy beaches. The old stone lighthouse, called “Hudishibana” by the locals, stands tall and proud as a sentinel.

California Lighthouse, Aruba
California Lighthouse, Aruba

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THEME DAY: ARCHITECTURE—A PILLAR OF FIRE BY NIGHT, OF CLOUD BY DAY (Part 1)

By Yvonne Blackwood~

A unique structure seen in countries with rugged coastlines is a lighthouse. Tourists are always fascinated with lighthouses for a number of reasons, one being that they are always off and away from the general population; there is a mystique about them. Certain questions come to mind when you gaze upon them. Why are they standing in specific locations? Who maintains them and when? Does anyone live in them? How many lives have they helped to save? In addition, novels and movies have featured lighthouses, adding to their intrigue.

Poets have even written romantic poems about lighthouses—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Lighthouse,” a classic example.

The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
and on its outer point, some miles away,
the lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day…

Designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses, lighthouses serve practical purposes. They serve as navigational markers for marine pilots out at sea, they mark dangerous coastlines and reefs, they assist boats to enter harbours safely, and they assist aerial navigation. Lighthouses are not as popular as they once were, and there are fewer in operation today because they are expensive to maintain, but more importantly, because electronic navigational systems are now used with the improvement of modern technological advances in global positioning of satellites.

During my globetrotting escapades I have come across numerous interesting lighthouses. For the next few Saturdays, I shall cover different ones in my Theme Day posts. Today, I will begin with a fascinating lighthouse in Canada.

It’s been said that you can’t truly appreciate the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean until you have traveled along the winding coastal road of the Lighthouse Route to the quaint fishing village and see the well-preserved beauty of Peggy’s Cove. One of the best-known lighthouses in Canada is Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. Located in a small rural community on the eastern shore of St. Margaret’s Bay in Nova Scotia, it was built in 1868. It is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia
Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

 

Of course the lighthouse has been upgraded over the years. The first structure, a wooden tower built atop a keeper’s dwelling, had a red light and used a catoptric reflector to magnify the kerosene oil lamp. The tower was replaced by the current one in 1915. Today a sturdy concrete octagon, the lighthouse which once showed a white light magnified by a series of glass prisms, has had several colour and character changes over the years. The latest colour change being from white to green in 1979. In addition, the white iron lantern on top of the tower was repainted red.

Do you have a favourite lighthouse?

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