Lighthouse and Its Uses
Ships and streamers at sea, during the dark nights ‘find it difficult to steer safely towards the harbour. There are rocky shores and rocks sunk into the sea and sand banks may endanger a ship by dragging them into shallow waters and broken to pieces by the waves.
In the day time, the sailors can be aware of these dangers and sail safely. But in the dark nights, it is always dangerous for they may steer off the course and meet with unexpected and unknown danger.
In order to guide ships during the night light houses are built along rocky coasts and on sunken rocks to warn sailors of the danger.
A lighthouse is a tall tower built of stone in olden days and of cement and concrete in modern days. On the top of the tower a very big lantern is made. It is covered by a frame of steel holding great plates of clear and strong glass. This lantern is so big as a room, set round with great glass and polished metal as reflectors to in—crease the light, generally oil is used in the lamp but nowadays gas or electricity is also used.
The lantern is kept burning throughout the night. There are at least two persons to take care of the light. They live usually at the top of the tower just below the light. They keep vigil throughout the night.
Lighthouses are built very high, partly in order to make the light seen at a great distance and partly to keep the light and the men out of danger of the waves when the sea is stormy.
The tight house-keepers lead a very lonely life and they cannot see any one for days together. So, they are relieved and replaced after a few weeks by other men, while they go home and relax. Their work is to light the great lamp before sun set and to see that it burns steadily and well throughout the night till the sun rises.
A captain of a ship can always distinguish one light house from another when he sees a light in the night. They can easily tell to which lighthouse it belongs. For lights are not all the same. Some are steady lights and many are revolving lights. In revolving lights, the lights turn round and round and shine and stop-shining every few moments or minutes. The captain by watching the light can say to which lighthouse it belongs since certain lights appear every thirty seconds and some in every fifteen seconds and so on.
Lighthouses were constructed by ancient Tamil kings in olden days. They constructed ‘big towers on stones and burnt faggots of wood .during the nights. These are still preserved as monuments in several parts of the country.
Lighthouses prevent hundreds of wrecks and so have saved thousands of lives every year.