A bit of coast

Today’s mystery photo – any ideas?

Ok, I cropped it. I like cropping and in this case it showed up the rainbow prismatic effects nicely.

Oh all right then, have a bigger image.

I expect you are getting it by now but here’s another anyway

And another…

This is the light house at Portland Bill, built to protect seafarers from a particularly treacherous piece of coast which includes The Race, where two currents converge and where life afloat is always “interesting.”

Local fishermen brave The Race to catch seabass, who love the turbulent waters.  They sail into it, cut the engines and allow the boats to drift, while netting the silvery beauties.  Once they’ve drifted through, they power up the engines, motor back to where they started and repeat the experience.

When we visited Portland Bill at the weekend, there was a very stiff breeze and The Race was all chaotic white horses.

“They wouldn’t go out today,” said the guy who knew all about the lighthouse. “It’s a bit lumpy.”  Masterly understatement.

It’s a lovely piece of engineering, the light.  The optic (the glass) the frame and the platform it sits on weighs three and a half tons.

The optic revolves day and night, smoothly, silently, floating on a bed of mercury – three quarters of a ton of the stuff.  I would like to have seen it, but it’s all enclosed, probably to prevent people like me trying to play with it.

Before this lighthouse was built, there were two other lighthouses that sailors used to take bearings from but curiously they were inland a bit, so not terribly reliable.  They fixed that by constructing a big white stone obelisk sticking out over the rocks at the furthermost point which was a much safer object from which to take a bearing and avoid catastrophe.

Portland Bill lighthouse was built in 1869 and is unusual in that it gives one or four flashes, depending on where you are looking at it from.

Oh and the tea shop nearby serves very good fresh-baked scones served with a pot of proper, leaf tea and a strainer.  A kind of bliss.

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About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
This entry was posted in Coast, Countryside, Current Affairs, Seaside, Watery things and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A bit of coast

  1. Pseu says:

    So beautiful. I had a close up look at a light house reflectors in France, at a museum while on holiday, but they certainly look much better in the wonderful light of outdoors September

  2. IsobelandCat says:

    I love the top photograph. And I had no idea what it was.

  3. valzone says:

    I knew straight away…….she lied 🙂 I didn’t have a clue Jan, but they are fantastic images. The way you cropped and displayed them, really fooled us. Excellent.

  4. janh1 says:

    Hi Val, what I want to know is how they get the red line so straight around the circumference of the lighthouse? Do they use giant masking tape, I wonder?

  5. valzone says:

    Yep, you’ve cracked it, masking tape by the yard, a plumb line as well, possibly 🙂

    • janh1 says:

      Do you find it very satisfying, ripping off masking tape? I think it’s by far the best part of decorating – unless you find a whole patch of unwanted paint which seeped under a loose bit of tape… 🙂

  6. Steve says:

    Excellent photos. Light House tours are always a treat for me. This one looks very much like its counterparts in America. Not surprising, I suppose. I think it is a good thing you avoided the mercury bed. That’s some nasty stuff!

  7. janh1 says:

    Hi Steve and thanks. Glad you appreciated the optic. Funny how there were signs everywhere saying “Please do not touch the optic” and you could see sticky fingerprints where people just couldn’t resist…!! 🙂 I didn’t tho, honest, guv!

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