Things To Do in Port ElizabethCape Recife Lighthouse
Where? Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth
When? Daylight for architecture visibility; night or overcast for light visibility.
How much? Free
The spine on the Eastern Cape's Indian Ocean floor bed is stacked with rocks for vertebrae that form the east coast bay backbone. This 'Thunderbolt Reef' rising out of the dark waters of the south entrance to Algoa Bay is set in the Nature Reserve of Cape Recife, approximately 7 miles from Port Elizabeth.
At this location in 1902 sailors and rescuers lost their lives to a hurricane wrecking countless moored and sea-faring vessels. Reflecting the cutting nature of the reef that separates the tides offshore a single lane onshore cuts through the biting breezes that lead up to the Cape Recife Lighthouse.
This black tarred linear road separates the white wind swept sands of the desolate beach and is met at perpendicular angles by a 24 meter high octagonal shaped tower striped in broad black and white bands. The adjoining rectangular maritime building painted stark white to match the sea froth with a black roof to match the protruding rocks, accompanies the monochromatic sea-side scene in a corresponding geometric and colour theme.
As if washed with a coat of blue from the same artist's brush the ocean seamlessly becomes the sky and highlights the contrasting Zebra inspired nautical architecture. Out of the blue, a red light flashes fixed to a red coated light dome encircled by a look-out balcony enrailed in a red gloss. The composition of the landscape appears to have been choreographed by a team of designers wishing to inspire beach house interiors from exterior beach side boldness.
The chic coast collection of lights and stripes is functional in its intention and graphic in its representation. Installed with irony on April Fool's Day in 1851 this warning system is now equipped with a fog signal, radio beacon, a red light (28º) and a flashing white light (332º) that shines every 30 seconds at a focal plane height of 28 meters above the high water mark. Technology has taken the light range from an original distance of 12 nautical miles to a current sighting range of 29 nautical miles with a light power of 4 000 000 Candelas keeping sunken ships in the history books.