Scaffolding is erected around the uMhlanga Lighthouse as it undergoes modifications and gets a fresh coat of paint. Readers who can access the webcam at the Oyster Box Hotel’s website can enjoy the live views.     Oyster Box Hotel
Scaffolding is erected around the uMhlanga Lighthouse as it undergoes modifications and gets a fresh coat of paint. Readers who can access the webcam at the Oyster Box Hotel’s website can enjoy the live views. Oyster Box Hotel

Bright new look for Umhlanga's lighthouse

By Adryan Ogle Time of article published Feb 22, 2020

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Durban - If you’re a beachgoer, don’t be surprised to see one of KwaZulu-Natal’s most prized littoral possessions undergoing a facelift.

The scarlet and white façade of the uMhlanga Rocks lighthouse is getting a fresh coat of paint, according to ­Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

“The project includes the painting of the uMhlanga Rocks lighthouse tower - interior and exterior - and lantern house. It is difficult to provide an exact end date for the project since much of the work is weather dependent,” said David Gordan, the executive manager of lighthouse and navigational systems at TNPA.

The lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1954 and last painted in 2015, is being modified because of compulsory procedure to keep it in excellent shape.

“The painting of the tower and lantern house is part of the assets maintenance schedule and is done every five to seven years.”

Gordan said the paint used for these outdoor structures needed to be able to withstand harsh conditions including heat, humidity, wind, rain, salt spray and air. He said the environmental considerations also needed to be taken in to account.

“TNPA lighthouse and navigational systems is mindful of the environment, and the appointed contractor must comply with the Environmental Laws of South Africa, in particular the National Environment Management Act 107 of 1998, as amended,” the organisation’s head said.

Part of the TNPA lighthouse and navigational systems’ mandate is to manage all of South Africa’s 45 lighthouses, from Port Nolloth on the West Coast to Jesser Point (Sodwana Bay) on the East Coast.

According to the Oyster Box Hotel, which keeps an eye on the splendid structure, the lighthouse is fully ­automatic and has never had a keeper.

“The lighthouse has a fixed red light that enables ships waiting to anchor in the outer anchorage, to track its position.

“If the red light can be seen from the ship, it often means that the anchors have dragged, and that the ship is too close to shore,” the establishment said.

Gordon said the lighthouse is a marine aid to navigation, which enhances safe and efficient navigation of individual vessels and vessel traffic.

These systems are specifically designed to carry a signal light and provide a significant appearance, called a daymark.

The way the light signals is known as its character and is unique to each individual lighthouse, the lighthouse and navigational systems said.

Similarly, the way it looks is also unique. “The uMhlanga Rocks lighthouse is a cylindrical concrete tower painted white, with a red top and red lantern house.

“The character of the light is group flashing three (three lights which flash successively) every 20 seconds at an intensity of 600000 candelas, the measurement for the light intensity of a lighthouse beam,” said Gordon.

“The daymark, or appearance of the uMhlanga Rocks lighthouse, will remain as is, that is, the tower painted white, with a red top and red lantern house.”

Independent On Saturday

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