24-Jun-2006 -- For a long time, I was having an eye on the last unvisited primary confluence in England. Unfortunately, the confluence is quite far from London (more then 300 km). Technically, it would have been possible to ride a bike down there in 2 days (which is my favourite means of transportation), but the main problem was that the confluence is located in the sea, 27 km from land. And from the harbour in Plymouth the DCP is in 43 km beeline distance.
I tried to arrange a ship or at least to find some people who own a boat and could be interested in confluence hunting in the sea. I sent emails to the Cattewater Harbour Commission in Plymouth, University of Plymouth Yacht Club and many more, but I didn't receive response. So, I abandoned the idea of this confluence visit.
It was the beginning of May, when I went to the European Navigation Conference in Manchester, where I gave a presentation. The chairmen of my session happened to be Captain Duncan Glass, Director of Navigational Requirements for Trinity House Lighthouse Service. While we had the speakers' breakfast on the day of my presentation, we chatted about Lighthouses, when I remembered that Eddystone Rocks Lighthouse wasn't far from the confluence which I was trying to get access to. He was interested when I explained confluence hunting and promised to help me on this.
Captain Glass also told me a story of Eddystone Rocks Lighthouse:
This lighthouse had been built by a great amateur and stood for 47 years until the night of 2 December 1755, when the top of the lantern caught fire. It was reported that 94 year old Henry Hall was the keeper of the watch that night. He did his best to put out the fire by throwing water upwards from a bucket. While doing so the leaden roof melted and the molten lead ran down over him, burning him badly; his mouth was open whilst looking up and some of the molten lead ran down his throat. He and the other keeper battled continuously against the fire but they could do nothing as the fire was above them all the time, as it burnt downwards it gradually drove them out onto the rock. The fire was observed from the shore by a Mr. Edwards, 'a man of some fortune and more humanity'. The old account says he sent off a boat which arrived at the lighthouse at 10 a.m. after the fire had been burning for 8 hours. The sea was too rough for the boat to approach the rock so they threw ropes and dragged the keepers through the waves to the boat. The lighthouse continued to burn for 5 days and was completely destroyed. Henry Hall died some 12 days later. Doctor Spry of Plymouth who attended him made a post mortem and found a flat oval piece of lead in his stomach which weighed 7 oz. The piece of lead from Hall's stomach may be seen in the Edinburgh Museum! More details on Eddystone can be found here.
EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY
- Position 50°10.80'N 4°15.90'W
- Established 1703 (present tower 1882).
- Height of tower: 51 metres.
- Height of light above Mean High Water: 41 metres.
- Range: 24 miles.
- Intensity 570,000 candle power.
Almost two months later, I got a call from Captain Simon Robinson of
the Trinity House Vessel 'Patricia', saying that his ship is now going in the confluence area and we could to visit the point.
Finally, on the morning of 24 June 2006 the Trinity House Vessel 'Patricia' while travelling from Swansea Bay to Portland Bill took direct course to the confluence. The trip was a passage from one working area to another without any particular events. The total travelling distance of the Patricia was 254 nautical miles (470 km). We had calm sea, but the horizon was a bit hazy. Eddystone Rocks Lighthouse could not be seen from the confluence point. Unfortunately, the photos are rather featureless. In both cases (the other trip was to confluence 50N 6W) the large distance from land means that even on a clear day it is very difficult to distinguish land from sea.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 11:45 am BST
- Time to get to the CP: 17 hours
- Travelling distance: 254 nautical miles (470 km)
- Distance to land: 27 km
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 7.3 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 10 m
- Speed while at the CP: 5.7 knots
- Weather: sunny, calm sea
- Given Name: The Eddystone Rocks Lighthouse Confluence