Sunday, 30 March 2014

Waratah - Cape Hermes Lighthouse.

The Cape Hermes Lighthouse, under the direction of  H.C. Cooper, was built between May and October 1903. It consists of an octagonal stone tower, 13 m high. The granite stone used in its construction was quarried from nearby. The build cost 6 191 pounds. Situated near Port St Johns, on the Wild Coast (Transkei), the Lighthouse was named after a ship, HMS Hermes (sent to map the coast of Pondoland). Coordinates:  31 38 06 South, 29 33 23 East. Commissioned in 1902, it was a signal station with ship's mast head light hanging in front. Today it is equipped with a radio beacon feeding off the grid and with a backup diesel alternator set.

The Cape Hermes site on the Wild Coast overlooks a particularly treacherous stretch of coastal waters. The Continental shelf is at its narrowest here, some 10 km in width, creating turbulent, rough seas and notorious freak waves. Jagged reefs jut out from shore. Wrecks are scattered in the vicinity, having succumbed to storms or dashed onto rocks.


Automatic / electric
Light Character One flash every three seconds
Light Range 13 sea miles
Light Power 5 000 CD
Height of focal Plane 55 metres above high water

Cape Hermes Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is perched on a promontory with Port St Johns in the background to the right. If bushfires were burning on the hillside surrounding the Lighthouse, 27 July, 1909, it would have been very difficult for the signallers to make out ship lights at sea. I believe Waratah lies about 3.247 nautical miles northeast of this Wild Coast landmark.

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