Like me, I think the majority of people have a romantic connotation with lighthouses. Images of stormy seas, ships in danger and isolated lives comes to mind.
The Cape of Storms did have a reputation for bad weather since the early days of seafarer in these waters. Plenty of shipwrecks in these waters confirm this. Light towers on the shore was essential to save lives and ships on the South African coastline.
At the most Southern point of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet (officially, according to the maps) stands one of the most beautiful light towers. It was the third lighthouse to be built and is the second oldest still in operation. The design is based on the ancient lighthouse of Pharos, in Alexandria in Egipt.
Building was started in 1847. Stone from the area was used and quarried about 200 meters west from the building. The lighthouse was unfortunately plastered in a restoration process in 2014 because of the quick erosion of the soft sandstone. The building is in use since 1849.
The first flame was a 4500 candle power flame that was produced by burning fat from sheep tails obtained from local farmers. From 1905 oil was used. The rotating light was installed in 1914 as we know it today, causing a flash of light every four seconds. In 1936 electricity powered the light.
In 1969 the building was declared unsafe due to deterioration of the structure and was about to demolished. A steel structure was built to house the light. Fortunately local people realized the architectural and historic value of the tower and restoration was started in 1983 that was finished in 1988
Today the building is part of our national heritage and houses a good museum. One can visit the lookout platform to see the incredible view. Watch out for strong winds on stormy days.
The lighthouse is situated at the start of the Agulhals National park with its unique fauna of Cape fynbos. Walking distance from the tower is the official beacon showing the African continents most southern point. Further to the west the wreck of the fishing trawler, the Miesha Maro can be seen, proving that lighthouses are still important.