Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean roughly 1000 km east of Madagascar. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1505, the island was first settled by the Dutch in 1638 and still bears its Dutch name. The Dutch colony was abandoned in 1710. French settlers replaced the Dutch in 1715 and held the island until British forces seized it in 1810. After a century and a half of British rule, the Republic of Mauritius became independent in 1968. Despite the lengthy British connection, a French-based Creole language is commonly spoken, and most place names are French. Lighthouses in Mauritius are maintained by the Mauritius Ports Authority.
Pointe aux Caves (Albion)
1910. Active; focal plane 46 m; two white flashes every 10 s; there is also a continuous red passing light at a focal plane of 30 m. 30 m masonry tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white with two red horizontal bands. A handsome, very British lighthouse in the tropical Indian Ocean; it replaced a lightship station established in 1867. Locally it is usually called the Phare d'Albion. Located on a headland about 10 km southwest of Port Louis, the national capital. Accessible by road. Site open, tower open by arrangement with the attendant.
The first floor doesn’t contain anything special except an electrical panel to control the other equipment of the lighthouse. This room had always been a control room previously storing accumulators for the supply to the light. Today only the electrical panel remains.
The second floor is nearly like the lens room of the lighthouse, except that instead of diffusing the high beam of the lighthouse it instead projects a red light pointing to the entrance of the Port. Sailors aligning to this red light will know they are at the entrance of the Port. We should also find the old burners of the Lighthouse still kept but unused, at the times where there were no electricity, light was generated using petrol.
The third floor, previously a resting place for the crew in between shifts but now only an old cupboard dwells in this room, at the time used to keep spare parts for the engine etc.
The fourth floor, nearly reaching the dome this floor is still occupied by old petrol cisterns previously used to power the Lighthouse, and the steep stairs leading to the dome of the lighthouse. The pillar in the center is well known for its counterweight usage.
As you climb the stairs from the fourth floor into the dome you will feel like entering an engine room with lots of mechanical parts. The glass in form of ‘losanges’ is covered with a curtain during the day to prevent the sun light from damaging the light bulb or causing fire, since the amplification lenses through the sun light will create heat. The enormous old lenses have been very well preserved since and every night the system rotates by an electric motor to generate a double flash every 15 seconds which is visible to a distance of 29 nautical miles.
If you are adventurous enough you will want to go out of the Dome through the little rabbit hole to the open air of the Lighthouse heights. Through the small metal door you step on the balcony and the magnificent view over the region speaks for itself.
Lighthouse Island (or Fouquets Island)
It was amongst the first ones to be discovered in 1598 by the Dutch settlers. Lighthouse Island bears its name by virtue of a lighthouse built in 1864, which was still operational until beginning of the 20th century. Historically, Lighthouse Island, situated within the bay of Mahébourg has fulfilled a strategic purpose during the naval battles at Grand Port.
1865. Inactive for many years. 26 m masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 2-story and 1-story keeper's complex. This lighthouse guided ships to the harbor of Mahébourg on the southeast coast of Mauritius. Mahébourg was the original French settlement and remained an important port until the early 20th century, when the British moved all port operations to Port Louis on the opposite side of the island. Endangered: the light station has been abandoned for many years and has fallen into ruin, with all the buildings unroofed. Located on a small island about 5 km southeast of Point du Diable and 15 km east of Mahébourg. Accessible only by boat; there is a distant view from the mainland. Site and tower closed.
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