Most powerful lighthouse on South African coastline

Yesterdays blog was about Cape Point, and today we continue at the same venue. Those of you that have read some of my previous blogs, probably had a little smile on your face when you read the title of todays blog, and it would be perfectly understandable, Yep! The most powerful lighthouse in South Africa. Well, what can I say? another superlative :-), it’s as South African as rugby and boerewors :-), and there’s no getting away from it. But I suppose, in our defence, if it is the most powerful lighthouse on the South African coastline, then that’s what it is :-):-). That’s ok! you don’t have to take my word for it, just to prove that I’m not just making it up, I actually took a picture of the plaque that identifies it as such. So? is that good enough? 🙂

Now I’m not sure if this is the only place where there are two operational lighthouses at one location, but my guess would be probably one of the few in the world. The only one in South Africa, I have absolutely no idea, so I’m not going to push the superlatives any further in this post :-):-)

The first lighthouse was completed in 1860, located 238 metres above sea level.  It was a significant landmark until the invention of radar. This lighthouse served for 50 years, though due to its height above sea level it was often enveloped in mist and cloud, rendering it useless to the mariners that it served. So a new lighthouse was commissioned and was completed in 1919. Only the base of the original tower remains, and is currently being used as the central monitoring point for all the lighthouses in South Africa. The area around the old lighthouse is a viewing platform that is accessible by a gentle walk or funicular ride to an intermediate level, wherefrom, there are is a series of steps, errr…maybe a few more than a series of steps 🙂 that take you up to the platform. There is a signpost that indicates distances to popular destinations around the world, and constantly, tourists and locals can be seen being photographed at the sign with the incredible view as a backdrop  

The second lighthouse, the most powerful on the South African coastline, (this is true :-)), is substantially lower at 87 metres above sea level, and comprises a square masonry tower onto which is mounted the revolving light, that emits 3 flashes every 30 seconds with a candlepower of approximately 10 000 000 DC. This lighthouse was electrified in 1936. This new lighthouse is not visible from the viewing platform, however it can be viewed from another platform much lower down. This platform is easily accessed along a scenic route which follows a descending narrow path with some steps cut into a steep cliff with waves crashing at the bottom. The journey continues……………………………………

Todays images are of the two lighthouses and the area around them

casting some light over treacherous waters …………………

Ok, I’ve decided that maybe we just stick around in the vicinity of Agulhas today, so that all those with the slower internet connection can breathe a sigh of relief. 🙂 You know, not having to hack in another destination in Google Earth and wait for the bandwith to catch up. Yesterdays blog was about the treacherous coastline at the end of the African continent. Word is that the Agulhas bank is shallow and extends 80km from the coast, which obviously contributes to ships getting stranded on the rocks. Discovered by the Portuguese as far back as the end of the 15th century, the southern- most tip was originally called ‘Cabo das Agulhas’ (Cape of Needles) either because compass needles show no variation between true north and magnetic north at the cape or because of the sharp, saw-edged rock formations responsible for some of the worst shipwrecks on the coast. Pretty treacherous for any seaworthy vessel, add to that the fact that the sea off Cape Agulhas is notorious for winter storms and massive waves churned up by the strong winds blowing from west to east, known as the “roaring forties”, as well as the cold Antarctic Circumpolar Current flowing in the same direction, which come up against the warmer Agulhas Current in the region of the cape. These conflicting currents of water of different densities, and the west winds blowing against the Agulhas Current, can create extremely hazardous wave conditions, all of which is exacerbated by the extended shallow bank. In 1837 the Surveyor General recommended the building of a lighthouse to help reduce the number of shipwrecks. This only materialised a decade later so in 1848 the building was finally built. The second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa, was declared a national monument in 1973. The sea facing facade of the building has been built to resemble a fort. The lighthouse consists of a round tower, 27 metres (89 ft) high and painted red with a white band, attached to a keeper’s house which now contains a museum and restaurant.

So the next time you happen to be circumnavigating the southernmost point of Africa on your round the world cruise :-), rest assured that the Agulhas lighthouse will be beaming  out a light with a focal plane of 31 meters above height water, light power of 7 500 000 CD with a revolving electric light flashing once every 5 seconds, reaching 30 nautical miles out to sea.

The journey continues…………………………………

Todays images are of the lighthouse and its surroundings

Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F5.6, 1/800 sec, FL=90mm

Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F16, 1/160 sec, FL=70mm

Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F16, 1/40 sec, FL=50mm

Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F16, 1/100 sec, FL=35mm

Canon 7d, Canon 18-200mm lens f3.5/5.6, ISO 100, F16, 1/125 sec, FL=200mm