« PreviousContinue »
As they sailed up the Sound, the children noticed the many lights along the shore, to guide the sailor on his way.
“What light is that, Uncle?” asked Ben, pointing forward.
“You mean the one on the port side?” was Uncle Jack's reply.
“I mean the one on the left-hand side, Uncle.”
“Well,” said Uncle Jack, “on board ship, the left-hand side looking forward is port, the right hand side, starboard. Now, which is it, port or starboard?”
“On the port side, Uncle Jack.”
“That is Execution Rock Light, Ben, flashing white with a flashing red sector. Some day after we get home I may tell you a story about this light. I well remember seeing it while on my first cruise after I was graduated from the Naval Academy, and having this kind of light impressed on my mind by an older officer.”
“Are there many kinds of lights, Uncle?” asked Belle.
“Yes, there are at least thirteen different kinds: fixed, flashing, white, and red, and combinations of these. Our coasts, inland and sea, are probably the best lighted in the world. For instance, here on the starboard side is Sand's Point Light, fixed white. A few miles farther on, on the port side, is a fixed white light on Great Captain's Island. Every few miles there is a light. In addition to all these, the government places bell buoys and whisčling buoys to mark shoals."
“And do sailormen have to know where all these lights are?” asked May.
“That is part of our business," was Uncle Jack's reply.
“How do they light the buoys, and how are they made to whistle?” questioned Ben.
“Suppose I tell you about a combined whistling and gas buoy that is on our route?” replied Uncle Jack.
“Oh, that's just what I should like to hear about,” said May.
“Shouldn't you like to hear about it, too, Belle?” asked Ben. “ Indeed, I should very much like to hear how
they get the gas into the buoy,” was Belle's reply.
“There is such a buoy off Point Judith,” continued Uncle Jack, “almost halfway between New York and Boston.” “Can't we see it as we go by, Uncle?”asked May. “You could if you were on deck, May. But
Courtesy of Bureau of Lighthouses.
Point Judith WHISTLING AND GAS BUOY when we pass it, you'll be below, fast asleep, as it will be about midnight,” was the reply
“You will have to be satisfied with hearing about it and not seeing it, May,” said Ben.
“This buoy is really a lighthouse in the sea,” Uncle Jack went on. “It is very tall, and it has a powerful light and whistle. It is moored in eight
and a half fathoms of water, a mile and a quarter off Point Judith Lighthouse, at one of the most dangerous points in a stretch of coast where navigation is most difficult in bad weather. The whistle is operated by the action of the sea, the extreme height of the buoy making it respond to the slightest swell. It carries an acetylene light which flashes automatically every five seconds, day and night, the large storage chamber holding enough carbide to operate it for several months without recharging.”
“Carbide of what, Uncle? ”asked Ben.
“Calcium carbide, which when brought into contact with water sets free a gas that burns with an intense white light,” was the reply. “It is much used in country places as well, because of its cheapness and the ease with which it can be manufactured.”
“Is it as bright as moonlight?” asked May.
“It's a different kind of light, May. The moon gives a soft and mellow light. As it's almost time to go to bed, suppose I tell you what a great English poet once said of the moon and night?” added Uncle Jack.
And May replied for all: “Please do. We should very much like to hear it.”
So Uncle Jack repeated the following lines:
How beautiful is night!
Breaks the serene of heaven: .
Beneath her steady ray
The desert-circle spreads,
Just as Uncle Jack had finished, along came Father and Mother. They had been chatting with some friends whom they had found sitting amidships. They stopped, and Mother said:
“You look as if you had been having a good time. It's time, though, for little folks to turn in. Go to bed, get your beauty sleep, and tumble out bright and early in the morning.”
“And if you come up on deck first thing in the morning, you will find me here,” said Uncle Jack.
“All right,” said the youngsters as they went below, with a merry “Good night, all.”