> Powerboat-World.com
 
 
News Home Video Gallery Newsletters FishingBoating Features Photo Gallery Sail-World Australia Australian Cruising
MarineBusiness-World
Sail-World.com : My lovely Lighthouse
My lovely Lighthouse

'Landing in the boat could be a risky affair.'    Paul Abbott

Every now and then you come across people who have an effect on your lives. I’m one of those people who are fortunate enough to meet up with others who have wonderful stories to tell. The next chap I met through our fishing website, Paul Abbott and I discovered what a wordsmith he is, plus has had a wonderful story to tell. Whilst it’s not fishing based, it has a lot to do with water. I will try to get some more on this story for coming weeks. Thanks Paul, you are an inspiration!

Please enjoy!

The boat sat uncomfortably on the water. The sea was heaving. As a swell rolled in, the boat rose – vertically, like a shop elevator – about 12 feet. As the wave rolled away, the boat dropped vertically by the same amount. The boat was not small: about 45 feet long, beamy and solid with a substantial wheelhouse, open cockpit at the stern, and a second deck on the wheelhouse roof. Must have weighed about 12 tons, but the sea just toyed with it.

There were three of us in the cockpit, watching skywards and trying to keep our balance. Above our heads was a huge wicker basket: a cube about four feet by four by four. It was suspended by ropes from a winch car which ran along a cable anchored to a huge rock offshore and to a landing stage perched some 90 feet up the side of the sheer cliff. Tasman Island towered 900 feet above us, forming one side of a channel; Cape Pillar reared a similar height above the water on the other side.

It was New Year’s Eve nineteen sixty-eight, three days after my nineteenth birthday. I had come to this place as a relief light-keeper for the summer, as a 'holiday job' at the end of my first year at uni. The first real paying job I had ever had. I was intrigued, filled with anticipation, and at this moment terrified!

Months earlier, I had been wondering what I could do over the summer, to earn a bit of real money to help supplement my meagre scholarship for the next year. A friend of the family had a son who was now nearly a qualified doctor: he said he had done lighthouse keeping in a couple of uni vacations. He had had a ball looking after the lights at land-based stations – could have been Port Sorell, Low Head or Eddystone, or whatever – and suggested I give it a try.

So I applied to the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport, and to my surprise, was accepted. I was drafted into Commonwealth service, swore an oath of allegiance and pledged not to tell anything I saw or did, under the Official Secrets Act. Ever. On pain of death. Near the end of the year they contacted me to offer me a couple of months on Tasman Island, replacing two permanent keepers in turn as they went off for their annual leave. I set up a bank account to receive the pay; set up an account with a local grocer who could send supplies and had rights to withdraw direct from my bank to pay for the goods; equipped myself with some warm clothing in addition to the allowance of shirts, pants and jacket the Department provided.

The view from the top of Tasman Light -  Paul Abbott  

I was due to be delivered to the island on December 30. I was met at the Department offices early that morning by a bloke in the service, who loaded me and my first two weeks’ provisions into his Landrover and we drove to Port Arthur. The road in those days was gravel, winding, and not very safe. My guide drove like a man possessed. Arriving in Port Arthur we learned that the sea state was too heavy to be able to land at the island. Instead, the boat took us out to have a look at a couple of Sydney-Hobart race yachts that were passing the island, and we ran alongside them for a while exchanging pleasantries and in my case, feeling very sick. Spent the night at this bloke’s brother’s shack, and set out in the boat again next morning.

So here we were, bobbing up and down on the heaving sea, basket overhead. Eventually the skipper called 'Stand right back fellas' and as the boat rushed upward, the basket came down 'CLONK' into the stern of the boat, and stayed there as the boat descended again. We carefully packed all my wooden boxes of food, sleeping bag and clothes, and a welter of other stuff for the families on the island – boxes of library books, crates of beer, more boxes of food and so on – into the basket until it was full. I expected it to be hoisted up to the landing, unloaded, then sent back to pick me up. No way. 'Climb on,' they said.

So I perched terrified on top of the now chock-full basket, hanging on for dear life as the boat shot upwards again, then it went down – and left my basket and me dangling 50 feet above the heaving ocean!

Gradually the squeaking winch car was dragged along the cable until the basket finally bumped onto the wooden landing stage. Several faces greeted me: 'G’day; you must be the new bloke. Out you get.' I stepped off the basket and found my legs had turned to putty. I collapsed in a rubbery heap at their feet.

Tasman landing stage -  Paul Abbott  

'Whoops!' they said. 'Hasn’t quite got his sea-legs yet! That last bit’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?'

Once I managed to stand again, they introduced themselves. One was the head keeper, the others were an assistant keeper and his wife and I seem to recall two children. They had a variety of gear on the landing stage which they proceeded to load into the basket, sat the kids on top and off it went again, swinging along the cable until it was positioned over the boat, dropped into the cockpit, kids and gear unloaded and the basket came back for the keeper and his wife. I envied the kids’ easy confidence: they had obviously done this a few times before.

All this while I had, with the keepers’ assistance, been stacking the gear that arrived with me on to a flat-tray railway wagon standing innocuously at the back of the landing. It was at the end of a railway track leading up the cliff. A second track was alongside it. Eventually the boat was loaded, the basket retrieved and stashed in its little shed, and the boat motored away. The head keeper said 'Righto; hop on. It’s important you sit with your feet braced against that board at the back end of the wagon.'

I wondered why that was necessary. I soon found out. The wagon gave a lurch, rumbled into life, ambling off the back of the landing and starting up the slope, pulled by a huge cable. The cable creaked, the wagon wheels squeaked. Every so often they jumped a little, over stones that were on the rail. My heart and stomach were in my mouth as the track grew steeper, and gradually my weight transferred from my posterior to my feet. It was then I noticed someone had carefully tied down all the boxes on the wagon. Halfway up the cliff, another wagon – empty – came down the other track past us in the opposite direction. If I hadn’t been concentrating so hard to keep from pitching forwards right off into space, I would have figured out that it was on the other end of the same cable: as the winch at the top pulled one up, it let the other down.

At this point you might think I was a bit of a wimp. Maybe I was. However, it was also a fact that for my whole life so far, I had lived with a morbid fear of heights. I was so afflicted that once or twice in my earlier teens, when I had tried to challenge myself to climb a ladder, I had barely got past the third rung - fighting the cold sweats - when I completely passed out from sheer terror. There’s a name for this, with '...phobia' at the end of it. And now here I was, taking on a responsible position minding a 100-foot lighthouse, perched on the top of a thousand-foot cliff. I was committed, and no way out. I would just have to face the phobia, and conquer it!

The Tasman Lighthouse -  Paul Abbott  


by Carl Hyland

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.powerboat-world.com/index.cfm?nid=97182

2:02 PM Mon 14 May 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







Power Boat News



























Understanding the Ocean's role in Greenland Glacier melt by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI),


Dangerous conditions for boating on entire NSW Coast by Transport Roads and Maritme Services,


Revealing report on Search for American yacht Nina released *Feature by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team,












AYSS PacificNet/Tahiti voted a success! by Asia Pacific Superyachts,














Dangerous conditions forecast for NSW boaters by Roads and Maritime Services,


APSNZ appoints Duthie Lidgard as new MD by Asia Pacific Superyachts,


Whale freed from rope at Byron Bay by Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry,






World premieres and national debuts for Sydney International Boat Show
Marine Auctions experiencing rising tide of interest *Feature
Tags reveal Chilean devil rays are among ocean's deepest divers
Auckland On Water Boat Show to hold world record attempt
Zodiac at Sydney International Boat Show 2014 – Australian
Gold Coast International Marine Expo - Exhibitor space filling fast
Ceramic coated exhaust manifolds reduce engine bay temps on superboat
Reminder of safe distance requirements for whales
Changes to Australian bass closed season
Fusion achieves industry-wide acceptance of FUSION-Link
BSE Brisbane Slipways open for business as normal
Honda’s everywhere at Sydney International Boat Show!
Fifth round of XCAT World Powerboat Series moves to China
Sly 43 - Making her Australian premier
Maritimo full of confidence following recent wins
Australia event cements its position as hosting 'the' marina party
Up close and personal with whales on the Gold Coast
SA Marina Day encourages South Australians to enjoy their marinas
Southport Yacht Club raffle: Dusit Thani, BRIG Falcon, Marriott stay
Enjoy the whale spectacle, just keep your distance
The Dinghy Nav Light Solution- a brilliantly dumb idea   
Extension granted for salvage of a paddle steamer on the Murray River   
Sydney International Boat Show set to embrace new location   
Thermal imaging helping bulk carriers avoid collisions in port and in   
Third CYCA Solas Trusts grant to Australian Volunteer Coast Guard   
CruiseCraft adds Explorer 595 Hard Top   
Severe weather warnings prompt reminder to boat owners   
Be won over by the new Azimut 50   
Predictwind unlocks more features on free accounts   
Tammy Wolf and Mercury's Formula 2 Powerboat on to Divisional Champion   
Monaco Yacht Show 2014 - the biggest superyacht show ever   
Biggest Display ever and 18 launches at SIBS   
Gold Coast International Marine Expo helps Sailability grant FREEDOM   
Exhibitors heat up for Cannes Yachting Festival   
Benetti 108 tri-deck Tradition Supreme will launch in Cannes   
St Kitts open for superyacht business   
Marine World Sales: The latest in buying and selling marine online   
UIM XCAT - Massive fight from Fazza secures fourth consecutive title   
Peters & May launch Mediterranean and USA to East Coast Australia   
Lifejackets are imperative: don't rely on sheer luck   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png   http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS PBW
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT