Lighthouse Letters
By Sharma Krauskopf

This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.

Storms at the Lighthouse

Storm Approaches Esha Ness -
Graphic by Andy Waddington, via Wikimedia Commons

Winter can be a frightful time at Eshaness lighthouse. Violent storms come in from the west and batter the solid three-foot walls of my lighthouse home. Charles and David A Stevenson in 1929 built the little house and its square tower to withstand the ocean's fury. The ocean side has thick wood shutters on all windows. When a storm is forecast all shutters must be bolted and everything tied down or it will be gone. This year we lost an old television antenna which Tom Williamson, our caretaker, later found in the front yard. The graphic on the right by Mike Pennington, via Wikimedia Commons, is of a storm battering the coast of Shetland.

But the worst thing so far this year happened two weeks ago when a terrible thunderstorm arrived in the area (see graphic on the left by Mike Pennington, via Wikimedia Commons). Lightning hit the pole that brings power to Eshaness and the tower lost its electricity for two days. Even if the electricity is off in the tower the light's beacon has batteries. No ships were endangered by this strike as the light kept revolving under battery power. The house was not affected and life went on as normal.

Not more than two days later lightning hit something in the area again. This time, power to the house and the lighthouse tower both went out. They got power back to the tower in a day but it took two days to get the power on to the house. (Graphic on the left is by Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons).

One of the Eshaness famous stories is a few years ago lightning struck and damaged the tower. The stairs to the beacon room were broken, as were some of the ceramic tiles on the tower's walls. One thing in the tower that was not affected was a vintage 1930 telephone. That ancient black phone was working immediately after the strike and still works today.

If you look at the picture on the right (by Martin Southwood via Wikimedia Commons) you will understand why lightening and Eshaness keep meeting like they do. The lighthouse sits at the highest point in the area and the tower is the tallest thing around. I suppose you are wondering if all this lightning activity scares me. The answer is you bet! Living in a lighthouse means keeping abreast of the weather and knowing what to do in all situations. The safest place is usually inside the little house because that is what it was built for - respecting the weather.


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