Plett’s record light

John Harvey

PLETTENBERG Bay is to become home to the country’s highest lighthouse. Standing only 10m tall but 146m above sea level, foundations for the new unmanned solar-powered lighthouse at Cape Seal point in the Robberg Nature Reserve have already been laid, and the structure is expected to be fully operational by mid-December.

To put the height into context, the Cape St Francis lighthouse is 36m above sea level and the lighthouse at Great Fish Point near Port Alfred is 76m above sea level.

CapeNature spokesman Henk Nieuwoudt said the old lighthouse had “rusted to pieces”.

“The lighthouse is being assembled in parts in Mossel Bay, and we are flying in the various parts as they are completed. This is very different from when the old lighthouse was erected using a pulley system,” he said.

“Cape Town contractors Chopperworx are flying in the parts, and in accordance with the environmental management plan they have been instructed only to fly over the ocean.”

He said the old lighthouse was mostly powered by gas, but was later converted to work off solar power. “It was completely rusted through, which is expected after 30 years, and Portnet decided to replace it. Although the new steel structure is small, we believe it to be the highest-positioned lighthouse along the South African coastline.”

He said a temporary lighthouse had been erected while construction was under way. “The lighthouse is some way away from the main part of Plett, but if you are sitting at the Beacon Isle hotel you will be sure to notice its beam every 11 seconds. The beam has a range of 27km.”

The unmanned lighthouse has been stop to prevent tampering.

The world’s highest lighthouse, in the Oberalp area of the Swiss Alps, is 2046m above sea level.

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