Things To Do in Port ShepstonePort Shepstone Lighthouse
Where? Off R102, Off Princess Elizabeth Drive, South Umzikulu River mouth, Port Shepstone, KwaZulu Natal.
When? Architecture - daylight best visibility.
Light - overcast conditions with poor visibility and night.
How much? Free
Paper brown with age, rolled up by fingertips burnt by sailors knots, lies tied with hope and thread in a secret compartment of an antiquated desk. The page sprayed with the scent of salt to replace the fragrance of a lover, holds outlines of a coastline cast with cliff and current.
Drawn from legend, a feather tip dipped in ink mimics the heart rate of a charging pirate in its representation of this southern shore's silhouette. This undiscovered map marks the 'x' that marks the spot of sunken treasure off the KwaZulu Natal shores beneath the Indian Ocean swells. Murky waters conceal the sunken vessels of the Sao Joao and Grosvenor whose fatal hull punctures on sharp rocks dropped them to the ocean bed heavy with gold, jewels and silver.
Left to rust beyond resurrection these shipwrecks haunt the Port Shepstone coast with riches kelped in reminders of danger. The town; named after Sir Theophilus Shepstone an honoured statesman of native affairs, once functioned in shades of sepia as an operating harbour. The original light beacon of yesteryear that warned look-outs clutched to passing ships' masts of the approaching peril was an ordinary ships masterhead lantern that swayed atop a laddered structure since 1895.
The Port Shepstone Lighthouse was retired of its duty in 1905 and replaced with an 8 meter high circular cast iron tower (now equipped with a radio beacon) erected at the Umzikulu River mouth. Visible from 26 nautical miles this fully automated Port Shepstone Lighthouse runs off a mains supply with a back-up double diesel alternator set. A revolving electric light with a power of 1 130 000 CD flashes once every six seconds over the Pondoland waters that treasure hunters believe keeps the Peacock Throne of the Moguls (estimated value in excess of £ 6 000 000) submerged.
Painted black and white in chequered blocks this unique lighthouse challenges the deep waters in a perpetual game of nautical chess. The risk of losing a shipping piece to the oceans deep outsmarted by early warning and sea-faring strategy.