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Thoughts concerning lighthouses

A forum to discuss non-specific lighthouse topics. If a topic doesn't fit into one of the other forums, put it here.

Postby island » Sun Jan 22, 2012 2:54 pm


I wonder how much treasure of various countries and hours of labor have been expended for lighthouses over the centuries to design and construct, to reconstruct, to equip, to re-equip, to continually supply and maintain, and to provide keepers for each.

Recently I have been researching Frederic Augustus Mahan, an officer of the Army Corp of Engineers. Mahan developed a plan in 1891 that would significantly improve the effectiveness of the lighthouse lights. He offered a plan by which all primary seacoasts light would each display a its own unique flash pattern with groups flashes equating to a unique number. A trial lens with such a flash pattern was assembled and installed at each of two lighthouses.

Why all this? For what purpose? What did Mahan and others before him hope to accomplish? This was for the sole purpose to answer one question. So what is this profound question that such great cost and effort has been expanded to answer? It is a question of great significance by not one great thinkers of mankind need ponder. The question seeking answer is one asked by mariners. So what is this question so profound Mahan and many others were seeking to answer. It is a simple little question. The question is, ----- "Where Am I?".
Last edited by island on Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:26 pm


It's ironic that most people on land today don't know where they're at and don't care. :?
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Postby island » Fri Feb 03, 2012 7:56 pm


Like sheep. Unfortunate, but true.
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Postby island » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:23 pm


The correct answer to the question "Where am I" impacted not only the captain and crew on the ship but many others for the wrong answer could well lead to the loss of the ship and crew and passengers. The safe journey of the ship was of great concern not only to those on the ship but for relatives and friends, businesses having cargo on said ship, the ship owner and insurance underwriters and more. Thus the effectiveness of the lights for night navigation were of concern to many. It makes one wonder why the lighthouse system prior to the 1850's was allowed to become an absolutely unbelievable end to end mess before taken over by the Lighthouse Board.
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Postby boats » Sun Feb 12, 2012 5:46 pm


Dave.. I'm still here, got some dust on me but I'm still above ground. Ring my Bell Dave. "Boats"..
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Postby sheilmolson » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:23 am


The intention of constructing a lighthouse is to show the way to a ship which are travelling in the sea at night. With the help of lighthouse the boats or ship can see where to change the direction. So I think lighthouse are very useful and should be made even more to help the sailor so that they could smoothly drive the boat/ship. Even in ancient days also lighthouse were used for legends like vasco de gama and columbus.
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Postby island » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:43 pm


And to show the way, lighthouses that are individually identifiable by the mariners without question and when only one light is seen at night when following the coast and more importantly when making the coast at the end of an ocean voyage. And this mariner if for being compelled to navigate by deduced reckoning for overcast skies having prevented celestial observations. And if in storm winds and seas, the ship being displaced downwind or for having to change heading for the protection of the ship, the point of making land may well be many miles distant from that intended. Thus the purpose of the Mahan plan, mentioned at the beginning of this topic whereby each offshore lighthouse would display its own unique numeric flash characteristic, was to enable a mariner, if in doubt, to determine his location with certainty.
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Postby tinypiney » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:41 am


I always wondered... how many different light patterns can there be? And how do mariners know which lighthouse even has which pattern?
"Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships."
-Charles Simic
"Lighthouses are more useful than churches."
-Benjamin Franklin
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Postby island » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:04 am


There are currently 12 different flash patterns used by the USCG for lighthouses and other lighted navigation aids. A person can determine the flash pattern for each of these from the CG List of Lights publications. The patterns are also noted for each aid on the navigation charts but these are not updated as often as is the yearly List of Lights. If a pattern is changed this information is issued in the weekly CG Notices to Mariners. The notices, the list and a copy of the navigation charts are available on the internet.

On the Light List a typical lighthouse with a white flash every 5 seconds would be identified as FLW 5s. If this light had also a red sector then there in addition would be for example; 10W, 7R, Red from 061° to 247°, this the range of visibility for each color and the bearing lines encompassing the red sector as viewed from the water.

To be most effective the flash patterns should be chosen to be distinctively different from the patterns displayed by adjacent lights and that the inshore lights differ from the offshore lights. This considering that for a mariner at night at some points in his travel may only see one light, more often in conditions of reduced visibility and most challenging for a mariner seeing that first light when making landfall at the end of an ocean voyage. This was most challenging in the days before electronic navigation aids.
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Postby island » Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:17 am


Virginia 2004 Light List

Lighthouse Characteristic Reference Number
Assateague Fl(2) W 5s. W22. fl 0.1, ec 1, fl 0.1, ec 3.8. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 275
Bells Rock Fl WR 4s. W7, R5. R120°-329°(209°), W329°-120°(151°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 13995
Cape Charles Fl W 5s. W24. fl 0.3. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 350
Cape Henry (New) Mo(U) WR 20s. W17, R15. fl 1, ec 2, fl 1, ec 2, fl 7, ec 7. R154°-233°(79°), W233°-154°(281°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 370
Chesapeake Fl(2) W 15s. W19. fl 0.1, ec 2.9, fl 0.1, ec 11.9. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 360
Great Wicomico River Fl WR 6s. W9, R7. W062°-107°(45°), R107°-232°(125°), W232°-315½°(83½°), R315½°-062°(106½°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7475
Jordan Point Iso W 2s. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 12420
Newport News Middle Ground Fl R 10s. R12. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 10815
Old Point Comfort Fl(2) WR 12s. W16, R14. fl 2, ec 2, fl 2, ec 6. R038°-265°(227°), W265°-038°(133°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 9380

Maryland 2004 Light List

Lighthouse Characteristic Reference Number
Baltimore Fl WR 2.5s. W7, R5. R082°-160°(78°), W160°-082°(282°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8035
Bloody Point Bar Fl WR 6s. W9, R7. R003°-022°(19°), W022°-183°(161°), R183°-202°(19°), W202°-003°(161°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7750
Cove Point Fl W 10s. W12. Obscured 040°-110°(70°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7630
Craighill Channel Lower Range Front Fl W 3s. W6. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8040
Craighill Channel Lower Range Rear F W. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8050
Craighill Channel Upper Range Front F R. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8090
Craighill Channel Upper Range Rear F R. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8095
Fort Washington Fl R 6s. R6. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 18560
Great Shoals Fl W 6s. W8. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 23700
Holland Island Bar Fl W 2.5s. W7. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7545
Hooper Island Fl W 6s. W9. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7590
Janes Island Fl WR 4s. W8, R6. R195°-246°(51°), W246°-195°(309°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 22815
Love Point Fl G 2.5s. G3. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8340
Maryland Point Fl WR 6s. W6, R5. R063°-105°(42°), W105°-243°(138°), R243°-285°(42°), W285°-063°(138°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 17895
Point No Point Fl W 6s. W9. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7560
Sandy Point Shoal Fl W 6s. W9. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7990
Sharps Island Fl WR 6s. W9, R7. R159°-262°(103°), W262°-159°(257°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7690
Solomons Lump Fl WR 6s. W8, R6. W039°-086°(47°), R086°-111°(25°), W111°-288°(177°), R288°-294°(6°), W294°-331½°(37½°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 23475
Thomas Point Shoal Fl WR 5s. W16, R11. R011°-051½°(40½°), W051½°-096½°(45°), R096½°-202°(105½°), W202°-011°(169°). USCG Light List - Vol. II: 7760
Turkey Point Fl W 6s. fl 0.25. USCG Light List - Vol. II: 8975
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