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Haunted Lights An estimated three thousand ships have met their doom off the unforgiving South African

Comment [DSC1]: You only talk about the ghost a little bit in this story. I would increase the theme of haunting to fit the title. Otherwise, maybe you can change the title to something about the lighthouse of focus, the Green Point lighthouse.

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Coast—that’s one destroyed craft and crew for every kilometer of coastline. Beginning in the early fifteenth century, around the time when Vasco de Gama and Columbus were sailing toward the New World, the beautiful seas of South Africa began swallowing European sailors whole. Generations of fearful crewman nicknamed the area the Cape of Storms. “The sea currents in South Africa are really weird,” says Charné Van Jaarsveld, 22-yearold resident. The warm Agulhas current brings water down from the Indian ocean, the cold Benguela current brings water up from the Atlantic, and where they meet is the most stunning line. “It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” says Charné. But the currents proved

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dangerous for the early East India Trading Company: “they got stranded on the beach, and that’s how South Africa became a thing.”

Comment [DSC2]: I love his voice! He seems like a real character.

While shipwrecks fueled South Africa’s creation, settlers didn’t let them continue. In 1656, Jan van Riebeek ordered a signal fire lit on Robben Island, a simple navigational aid that warned sailors approaching the Cape Colony settlement. Coal fires replaced these early wood fires, and in the nineteenth century, the first lighthouse in South Africa was built. The Lighthouse Green Point is South Africa’s oldest lighthouse and it appeared on Mouille Point in August of 1824. Designed and built by German architect Herman Schutte, the building conforms to a square, blocky style. The tower, standing fifty-two feet in the air, is covered in delightful red and white candy stripes. In 1824, the signal light emanated from a simple oil lantern—not particularly reliable on misty Cape evenings. “The lights were rather primitive,” says Joe Valjoen, lighthouse enthusiast.

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They were just “single wicks in a Argand lamp that burnt sperm oil.” This early light could only be seen six miles out to sea. In 1929, the lighthouse was electrified, and now the light can be seen an approximate twenty-five miles out to sea. Despite improvements to the light, thick winter fog often obscures its protective gleam. Because of this tendency towards mistiness, Green Point acquired a foghorn in 1926—a foghorn

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that can be heard for miles, earning the nickname “Moaning Millie.” Residents and insomniacs have complained about the foghorn since its installation, even compiling a letter of complaint addressed to the mayor of Cape Town. As recently as the 1970s, the keeper has received death threats over this moaning foghorn. However, some find the sound soothing: “Some misty nights

Comment [DSC3]: Is it the same keeper now? What’s his name? I’d like to get his take on the death threats and living in the lighthouse.

when there are ships coming into the harbor there is a sort of Do-Re-Mi of multiple foghorns going on. One can hear Millie calling the ships and the ships answering her,” writes resident Greenie Fletch. The Tragedy Despite lighthouse keepers’ great efforts to warn ships, Green Point lighthouse still presides over

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many watery graves. In 1865, the RMS Athens was wrecked just west of Mouille Point. She was driven broadside into the rocks while crowds of Green Point residents looked on, foul weather making rescue impossible. The Piscataqua lies in the same place, her engine block visible above

Comment [DSC4]: So did everyone die? I think you should make it creepier!

the surf line. Most recently, in July of 1966, the South African Seafarer fell prey of the stormy

Comment [DSC5]: Did people die in this wreck too?

waters. While the ship sank, Green Point’s rotating lens was stopped and the beam provided light for the helicopters saving crewmembers. All crewmembers survived. Lighthouses gather tragic stories like these about them like shrouds. A ghost story is attached to the Green Point lighthouse, which some believe is haunted by a one-legged keeper


known as “Daddy” West. This is most likely W.S. West who became keeper in September 1901 and retired in 1912. “There is lots of mystery in Cape Town,” says Charne. “People love it.” The Community

Comment [DSC6]: Why do people think he haunts the place? Have there been sightings? I want to know more about this since this haunting is the article’s namesake. Deleted: st

Visitors also love the individual flavor of each lighthouse. Viljoen comments that “the numerous lighthouse paintings done by a previous keeper, Richard Wyness,” make Green Point particularly special. “I last saw Richard a few years ago and he had dementia,” adds Viljoen. The paintings add a personal and familial touch to the lighthouse, especially as Richard’s son, Robert, is now

Comment [DSC7]: What’s his full name?

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Comment [DSC8]: This is a cool fact, but I’m not sure what it has to do with the fact that he painted the paintings. Are you trying to say that being a keeper made him crazy?

the keeper. Viljoen’s interest in lighthouses began when he arrived early for a business meeting in Port Edward. “I saw a sign to a small coffee shop at a lighthouse. I ordered coffee and noticed

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that if I paid a small fee I could climb to the top.” Afterwards, Viljoen made it his “mission” to visit every lighthouse in South Africa. He has currently visited forty-four of the forty-five working lighthouses and he maintains a valuable blog with recent photos and information on

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nearly every lighthouse. Few people belong to this lighthouse community, though. Simon Baillie-Copper, director of the Lighthouse Company, is concerned that people aren’t aware of lighthouses: “I can only hope that we can find more followers of these fine sentries of yesteryear.” However, BaillieCopper firmly believes that these buildings will always hold “a strange fascination for those who wish to explore them.” For him, the attraction comes from the diverse architecture and “romantic feel of the lighthouses and their surroundings.” Viljoen points out that visiting lighthouses is about more than the lighthouses themselves. He says, “There is so much to see and do on the way to the lighthouses.” Because Green Point

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lighthouse is near Cape Town, travelers can visit the flea market and the mini golf courses, or they can walk along the promenade. Sidebar: Other Lights

Comment [DSC9]: I feel like the article ends with no conclusion. Conclude with a fascinating, spooky detail or anecdote that ties back to the overall mood and theme of the article. Also, include some conclusive wording so the reader knows the article is ending.

Robben Island Lighthouse By the time the lighthouse was built in 1865, Robben Island was home to the ‘living dead’—the

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sick, the mad, the criminal, and the politically inconvenient. The island has a leper church, bunkers from World War II, and bears the infamy of having imprisoned Nelson Mandela for eighteen years.

Comment [DSC10]: That’s an awesome fact!

Cape Agulhas Lighthouse During the fifteenth century, Portuguese compasses would behave erratically near Cape Agulhas,

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leading Bartholomew Dias to name the area the “Cape of Needles” and the Agulhas bank the “Graveyard of Ships.” The lighthouse, erected in 1848, was modeled after one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Pharos of Alexander. Danger Point The lighthouse serving as a warning of this rocky point was forty-three years too late for the

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HMS Birkenhead (1852), an infamous maritime disaster. Only 193 of the 643 passengers survived and the crewmembers’ actions created the British “women and children first” protocol.

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Editing Sample: Lighthouses