Tuesday 18.9.2007 - The day the light came
Today leaving Märket was possible. The Eckerman brothers brought out Leif, the new lighthouse keeper, and some radio amateurs. To make sure leaving really would be possible, Ville from the Lighthouse Society also came with his own boat. He skilfully brought in his boat on the South side.
As Ville was in no hurry back we had time to take Leif on a tour and explain the routines. Hopefully, we didn’t forget too much.
Jon, Leif, Esko and Ville meet at last.
Looking back at Märket, seeing it fast turn into a small spot, made us realize what a small place had been home for us for over a week.
Now we are enjoying a splendid dinner on the ferry back to Turku. Every lighthouse we see outside (there are quite a few of them) bring back our thoughts to Märket.
The retired lighthouse keepers Jon and Esko over and out
From the new lighthouse keeper, Leif Rosas:
After having spent a long weekend cut off from the rest of the civilised world with no electricity and mobile network, Jon and Esko waved towards the reef relieved from Ville’s boat taking them back to Eckerö.
I signed in onto Märket as the last lighthouse keeper for this season early Tuesday morning, along with the radio-amateurs Martti, Lars, Antti and Pertti preparing for a Scandinavian contest on Saturday.
The new Honda generator still has a major malfunction, and as the motor oil increases instead of decreases, probably no regular maintenance would get it back on feet again.
What is wrong with this machine?
A general failure seems more likely now and I decided not to use it as it could turn out to be a fire risk. It now rests between the beautiful old Wikström generators in the engine room waiting for a warranty repair on the mainland.
A nice place to rest between the old chaps.
Along with the radio-amateurs came the light. First, as a free cord from Lars, an old British generator that runs 24h, then, as the sky turned blue, with a wonderful visibility all the way to Sweden together with a very moderate wind from the North the day into paradise on Earth.
Two sources of light.
Even for a newcomer, it was easy to realise the amount of work having been done on the lighthouse so far, and even more the amount that still is left.
Almost all the windows had now been replaced with temporary boards, giving the old lighthouse a far better chance of surviving one more hard winter. Thanks to all the keepers’ activity over the whole summer, my job seems more to be to close down everything for the winter and prepare for the coming season.
The lighthouse prepares for the winter season.
Tomorrow I will start with the bedroom, the only radio free zone on the reef.
Wednesday 19.9.2007 - T-shirt report from Märket
After an evening of documentating some of the huge amount of work that still needs to be done on the lighthouse, I woke up as scheduled to my first watch on the reef at 8 o´clock to catch the weather report.
A promising forecast for the day: At first 12°C , wind 10-12 m/s N NW turning temporally to S in the afternoon.
The day begins.
After a very short and fast morning swim over to Sweden, it was time for me to plan the work of the day and for the whole stay. To prepare everything for the winter has become my major task. It didn´t seem realistic to start any new construction work inside, since almost all the rooms were occupied 24h by the radio amateurs, not counting my residence, the Chief keeper´s bedroom and the shop.
The humidity is probably too high already to start any additional painting job for the restored windows. More reasonable seems now to arrange everything for the first keepers in the spring and, having everything put in their right places, figuring out what had to be kept in the lighthouse, and what can be left in the storages and also watching carefully not to throw away anything that could either be useful in the restauration or be of historic interest.
Everything in the firewood storage was in a mint condition and order, but a proper solution to the entrance still has to be solved before the winter.
So for the day, I started arranging everything in the storage right to the main entrance in the service building instead. The boat now has a permanent place right beside the old one lying on one side, making it easy to bring down, but safe from every tsunami and ready as it is to face the winter. Later everything will be gathered in the middle under plastic cover because of the leaking roof.
Then I got on with the drain hole from the diesel tanks that ends outside the building and where small amounts of diesel mixed with water continously is still sipping out on the soil. Perhaps ok in the 50´s but no longer up-to-date.
This is the hole where the oil comes from.
With friendly assistance from Lars it was possible to locate the leak. Two of the diesel tanks are still in order but the third one has a rust hole from where obviously condensed water gathered in the empty tank mixed with diesel remains runs out into a ditch designed for the purpose and further outside the building.
It seems that no mixture is longer coming out from the tank and everything that is sipping on the outside comes from the concrete ditch , approximately no more than a few litres. But every spoonful in the Sea of Åland is one too much.
Now the drain hole leading out is filled with sand from the inside. From the outside, I removed the oily sand and filled the hole with some crushed charcoal, recycled from the grill, mixed with humus hoping it will work as a home made active carbon filter.
The leak seemed to have stopped now and is at least for the time being keeping the mixture inside the building from where it later has to be removed.
Work is a lighthouse keeper´s biggest pleasure, but the afternoon showed Märket as one of its sunniest side. No wind and a temperature beside the entrance at the jetty close to 18°C! Time for at least a short T-shirt coffee break in the sun before filing my report.
A nice spot indeed.
The day turned out to be almost a summer day. But one does not need much of imagination to realise the power of the sea in a storm on this location when watching the missing stones from the jetty and the marks on the lighthouse wall way over the 1st floor.
The summer stayed on the reef today.
But this day Märket greeted his last keeper with his friendliest face. Or it is a she ?
Thursday 20.9.2007 - Time flies and a metal bird
My most severe and only problem on the reef is to catch up with time. The old clock in the chief keeper´s kitchen has decades ago stopped at 10.52 AM, but in reality time flies here. With a jet engine.
Who noticed first that the clock had stopped?
But already on the third day of my stay here I feel perfectly familiar with the reef and the lighthouse. We have become good friends already. Since the weather once more was on my side, I decided to continue to organise everything outdoor and in the storages.
The safety matters are in order now.
Because I am probably the only keeper beeing alone on the watch for this season, it would be too hazardous trying to remove the two remaining windows in the staircase from the outside, since no security straps or helping hands are available.
The strenght of the continuos watch from the keepers is their wish to leave a bookmark to the lighthouse. To come back later and see the windows they have painted back in 2007. Or the chair that they renovated and that still is being taken good care of.
Small steps from every keeper, but together a giant leap for the lighthouse. The weakness of the system with a new crew every week is that everybody primarily wants to establish something rather than putting everything back to its place again. Re-organising becomes nobody’s business. That, of course, is perfectly ok. In the end, it is far more relevant having two more windows fixed for the winter than keeping on vacuum cleaning for a week.
Therefore I take it as my humble contribution to the project to try to get most of the stuff back to places where they are easily found next spring.
Today I removed the Danger Zone rope since no more visitors for the season is to be expected, gathered all firewood in the storage, divided tools in two sections; the new ones that were to be needed in the renovation go up into the lighthouse after the radio-amateurs leave, and the historical once, like sledge hammers go all in one place in the firewood storage.
Gathering life wests, putting up life saving devices at a fast access location close to the entrance, counting full gas bottles, charging tool batteries . Found a pullower in the Gas storage so If you miss it, it now hangs in the cleaning cabin in the shop.
Found one pullover.
In the afternoon, there were expected newcomers. Two additional radio-amateurs landed with a private helicopter and the pilot, an amateur himself, took Antti back to Mariehamn, so the number radio-amateurs now increased with one.
Another metallic bird onthe sky of Märket.
If the pilot will decide to stay until Sunday, I hope he will be up to date with the weather report and bring the helicopter to safety on short notice, on this location, where the wind can change in direction and power very rapidly, inspite of the fact that the weather here have been far more generous to me than I actually would deserve.
Friday 21.9.2007 - Dip in the Bay of the Outdoor Toilet
Sunshine 14° C, wind at first 9-12 m/s, S/SW. Good visiblility. An additional reason to celebrate the oncoming weekend with a swim to Sweden. And back. All in 22 seconds. I Have to check with Guinness world of Records if my contribution would be accepted.
If not, this is a very special personal record. One of those you tell your grandchildren. I crossed the borderline in the famous Bay of the Outdoor Toilet which I sincerely hope has NOT been used for decades. So if this turns out to be my final report, you all know why and I would strongly recommend a burial at sea.
I now finished off the work outdoors by taking all the rusty things at the old storage inside so that they later can be put on display if so decided. I charged all tool batteries, including the battery to the VHF radio phone and marking them as charged to better cope with the winter.
Future art exhibition on the reef.
Nevertheless, they have to be charged again next spring. The solar cell panel for the mobile phone is still OK and working, but the Nokia 12V-charging cord is out of order and can used only as spare part provider. For the next season, a permanent VHF station together with a non- removable GSM with external antenna, a car battery and solar cell panel kept totally separate from any other electrical supply would be a much more secure solution.
The leak from the diesel tank outlet stopped, but it seems that small amounts still is sipping out underneath the building. No major environmental disaster, but all remains has to be taken out from the inside, sooner or later.
Minor leak still troubling us.
This is a day of a short report, since everything outside is more or less done and the job inside have to wait until the radio-amateurs leave on Sunday. That gives me some time to catch up with my two other duties her on the reef. Photographing and writing my magazine article, a job that has been severly neglected by the important duties of a modern lighthouse keeper.
The reporter at work.
This is Leif Rosas
For the Lighthouse Society
from Märket Reef
Saturday 22.9.2007 - Global warming alert from Märket
What a day! Having spent most of the night writing, I woke up to a record braking morning again. No multinational marathon swim today, but an amazing weather.
A wonderful sea breeze.
Angela called last evening and wanted the outside windows to be shipped over. What a great excuse to spend the whole day outside, removing the glass from the nice old teak frames, packing all together to go with the Eckerman brothers’ transport on Monday.
Sitting up all night writing... with a view.
Soon the temperature broke a new record for my stay here. 16 C official degrees, rising up to 20,5 C in the sun behind the second jetty at the entrance. I brought a lot of equipment with me but no sun oil.
I was able to remove all of the beautiful old glasses, despite some of them still sitting so firm it would have required a heater. Well, who needs heat here anyway with summer temperatures like this?
Working with the windows.
In the afternoon, every sailor’s friend, the wind, came by at approximately 14m/s from S /SW creating a view good as any Mediterranean scenery.
After a short evening walk on royal territory, it is time to prepare for Saturday Night Fever. On Märket that means: early to bed with a good book. Oh, and a phone call home, too.
Remember, it´s that place somewhere all your bills are sent to...
Sunday 23.9.2007 - Shortage of ropes
Today, on Sunday, the day of rest and peace, was my busiest day by far here on the reef.
After one more long but pleasant night writing and photographing the reef in a veritable moonlight under the twinkling stars, I removed the glass from the rest of the windows and tied them all together with what I could find; ropes, strings and electrical cord.
Magic light in the moonlight.
Same thing with the sensitive glasses. Protected from both sides with remains of the plywood, they are now packed in cardboard for safe transportation to Eckerö tomorrow morning.
A job that on the mainland would not take anybody more than an hour, but here most of the day, since there is really a shortage of ropes and even cardboard now when everything is being run down for the winter and taken to the mainland.
The radio-amateurs are also packing their things together, two of them left with the helicopter in the afternoon and the rest of the crew tomorrow.
Last helicopter ride of the summer season.
As they leave , I can finally start arranging everything in the other rooms inside the lighthouse, especially in the kitchen, where there still is food left to feed an army.
End of the Sunday report from a sunny Märket.