One of the main characters from my novel ‘The Sentinel’, Mr Frederick Johannsson, is the Head Lightkeeper at the lighthouse station. He is responsible for the 2nd and 3rd Assistant Lightkeepers and their families, as well as running the lighthouse and the lighthouse station.
Let’s have a closer look at a typical day in the life of an 1880s lighthouse keeper.
As Head Lightkeeper, Mr Johannsson has earned the right to take the ‘easier’ watch between 7 and 11pm and be ready to be on duty again in the morning at daylight.
0700 – Weather reading and record in the log book eg. ‘Fair weather wind, fresh from the Southeastward’.
0800 – Employed in cleaning the gear of the Lantern (much of the day).
0900 – French Steamship, Maisey, sighted at 11.00am in the morning.
0930 – This morning I ordered the Assistants to get in firewood for the cottages.
1300 – This afternoon sent telegram to Harbour Master’s office requesting stove for the 2nd Assistant Keeper’s cottage as not working.
1230 – Checked on Keepers as had ordered them to secure wood for the cottages, thinking that this had not happened. Brown replied that he was not employed as a servant but as a lighthouse keeper and believed each cottage should be responsible for supply of their own firewood. I asked if that was a direct opposition to my order. Brown replied that was not his intention but he still refused to fetch firewood for any cottage but his own.
1300 – Employed in carting firewood.
1400 – Sent telegram to Harbour Master’s office outlining grievance against Brown.
1430 – Wrote letter to Harbour Master outlining difficulties with Brown and detailing issues of insubordination.
1500 – Employed in emptying oil tanks.
1530 – Stiff breeze setting up from the Eastward.
1600 – Received reply from Harbour Master. Request for stove in the affirmative. Will read letter regarding Brown when arrives on next steamship.
1615 – Heavy clouds gathering.
1630 – Employed in gathering supplies for painting of the balcony in the morrow.
1700 – Brown gave very saucy answer when duties were advised. Reports he is going to stop at home this evening.
1800 – Dinner. Squalls rising outside. Hurry back to attend to the light. Kept watch through Brown’s who did not show. Checked stores and found 10 full bottles of port wine, 1 smashed and 2 missing.
2200 – Heavy peals of thunder and hard flashes of lightning. Wound the clockwork mechanism and refilled the kerosene fuel and trimmed the wicks. Squalls continue. In the morning shall take Brown to task for unreasonableness.
Until next time,
To celebrate the release of ‘The Sentinel’ on Apple iBooks, I have some promo codes to give away. This code will allow you to download the book to read and review until 12 February.
If you’re interested, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org