Two real SEA WOLVES!
Thanks to their frequent appearances in popular children’s stories by the likes of Enid Blyton and Jules Verne, not to mention numerous comic books, lighthouses are still evocative of gripping sea adventures, sailing ships and messages in bottles.
In everyday life (even in our increasingly computerised and digital age), lighthouses are also an essential navigational aid, especially in adverse weather conditions, when the elements cannot be controlled or predicted by electronic technology and seafarers must once more depend on their intelligence and experience for survival.
That is why two ancient lighthouses on opposing shores of the Atlantic have recently been restored to their original splendour with the help of two DIECI vehicles, a Zeus and a Pegasus.
The first involved a difficult joint operation between a ship belonging to the Brittany Lighthouses and Beacons Service, a helicopter and a Zeus 37.7: on a rocky outcrop six miles off the coast of Brittany, in a stormy stretch of sea, soars the Pierres Noires (“Black Rocks”) Lighthouse, known as the “The Hell of Hells” due to its precarious location. Built in 1871, it is listed as a national monument and is still in operation.
Recently it was decided to restore the lighthouse’s wrought iron cupola (weighing over 800 kg), which was seriously corroded by over a century of exposure to salty air. Detached from its supports, the cupola was lowered to the ground by a powerful transport helicopter, where a Zeus 37.7 owned by LOCARMOR (authorised DIECI dealer in Brittany) needed all its strength and precision to carefully arrange the cupola, without damaging its structure, onto another, purpose-built support for transportation to the restoration workshop.
During the same operation, workers removed the old rotating unit, which was prone to repeated breakdowns and dangerous due to the more than 100 kg of mercury that it contained, and replaced it with a powerful and safe LED lamp system.
Once the restorations were complete, a reverse operation got under way, ending with the reinstallation of the precious cupola to protect the new light cluster, which will guide boat crews to safety for at least another 100 years.
Another mission—less hazardous but equally important (at least from a historical point of view)—was assigned to a solitary Canadian Pegasus, which helped to restore the Cap-de-la-Madeleine Lighthouse in the vast and deep estuary of the San Lorenzo River.
The lighthouse is an important historical legacy of the local community and of the Canadian government: rebuilt in concrete in 1908 (on the site of an earlier wooden lighthouse erected in 1871), for over a century it has been responsible for the safe passage of generations of fishermen, adventurers, corsairs, pioneers, foresters and fur trappers.
During the Second World War, it oversaw numerous skirmishes between the Royal Canadian Navy and German submarines that patrolled the estuary’s waters, ambushing convoys of ships headed for Europe.
In 1942, the stretch of coast where the lighthouse stands was even struck by a stray torpedo, the remains of which are now on display to the public.
For the restoration of the building (which was damaged by time, frost, salt and the strong winds that typically occur in the region), the Pegasus was required to work for an extended period under the tower, repeatedly extending its boom to an altitude of 11 metres so that operators could replace damaged iron components, install new systems, repair masonry (the most exposed of which had been eroded by winter frost and salt) and finally bring the building back to life by applying a new coat of paint in the original colours (red and white), which are characteristic of such constructions.