Gales are frequent visitors to Eshaness Lighthouse, but they are mostly a winter phenomena. This summer during my one-month visit, we have had three very strong summer gales. The strongest so far is blowing right now. It is about 70 miles an hour.
During storms like these, I stay inside the lighthouse and do things inside except for my routine early morning activities. Those activities include emptying ashes from the Rayburn stove and putting out the trash for the bruckie (Shetland
term for garbage) man. I had a lot of trouble with those two activities this morning.
First, when I opened the gate, the wind caught it and I could not get it shut. Then I could not get around the lighthouse to empty the ashes on the rocks as I got blown over onto the grass just outside the fence. Recovering my dignity, I went to take the garbage bag to the wooden box where we keep the black garbage bags so they will not blow away. I had a terrible time getting the lid open because the wind was gusty, so I slipped the bag in when the wind calmed a bit. Then I almost had to crawl back to the lighthouse door.
The lighthouse is secure without any signs of the storm raging outside, except for the howling wind in the chimney of the Rayburn stove and the rattling of the plastic protectors on the windows. I just saw something blow by the window. I am not sure what it was and am not about to go find out. There is not a sheep in sight as they are very good weather forecasters. They know somehow when a storm is coming and find shelter before it begins. If the young lambs do not find shelter, they would surely get blown away as they are still fairly small.
I just read the weather forecast. We are at Gale Force 8 right now and expected to go up to Violent Storm 11. I guess that is the end of my outdoor activities for today as standing up is impossible in Gale 11.
The sea is dangerous with swells up to 4 meters (13 feet). As I sit at the window, the surf is going completely over the islands. There are huge white caps on the badly rolling sea. This storm has been forecast for the last few days so most ships are safely in their harbor, though I wonder how many ships are out in the ocean not close enough to shelter. The ocean is dangerous for ships, but beautiful for watching. I tried to take some pictures from sheltered areas around the lighthouse and through the windows, which is impossible because they are covered with salt spray.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is the third gale we have had since we have been here. Summer gales leave even worse scars than the winter ones. What few trees that Shetland has have been battered and the leaves on the exposed side have been completely burned off by the salt spray. The wind of course blew a big majority of the leaves off. After today, they will probably have no leaves left.
So goes the day at the lighthouse. I realize I was foolish to go out with the ashes and the garbage, now that I’ve checked the wind speed on the computer. As I have said many times, I am perfectly safe in the lighthouse, but it is not so good to be outside these doors in a weather like this.
This story appeared in the
October 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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