Saturday, 21 November 2015


The news is that the foghorn may be decommissioned at Corbiere by Ports of Jersey (having only just taken over a lease on the lighthouse from the States), and many foghorns have across the British Isles. They are no longer used because on-board navigation and radar systems are deemed to have made them redundant.

But in 2011 a writer posted this - not everyone has on-board navigation, and small boats with paddles don't.

"We paddled around La Corbiere, Jersey, in heavy swell and fog, its regular 4 beat ('C' for La Corbiere in morse), powerful enough to set our boats resonating and apparently flatten the water. Very reassuring, it will be a shame if this goes. Even if you can see the rocks close to, the fog horn helped us home in for the last mile."

This poem looks at the foghorn, and sharp eyed readers will notice it is also influenced in part by the movie "The Ghost and Mrs Muir".


I hear the ship, out there in the sea:
The loneliest sound comes to me;
Too close, by the sound, to shore,
Lured by mermaids of sailor’s lore;
Like a child lost, crying in the dark,
Lost in the mist, with no landmark,
To guide the captain, cursing blind,
Wondering why he is so maligned;
Fog in the channel, the sailor’s bane,
More treacherous than beating rain,
And a northeaster, strong and cold,
Where a mariner can at last be bold;
Slow in the fog, ware the hidden reef,
Upon which a ship can come to grief;
The foghorn sounds a warning note:
Warning of rocks not quite remote,
Saving the crews of many a ship,
From rocks that tear away and rip;
That was long ago, and now they say,
The foghorn is old, has had its day;
A voice across the water will be still,
And no more that romantic thrill,
As landlubbers hear across the bay,
That mist is creeping in this way;
All day and night it used to sound,
Reminding us of those who drowned;
Alas! Our foghorn will be no more,
Gone with the sailing ships of yore;
The lighthouse silent, none to save,
From the deeps, the watery grave;
Heavy swell and fog, no regular beat:
No more a foghorn’s notes to greet

1 comment:

James said...

I suspect the attitude of Ports of Jersey is to say that small boats like that are freeloading off a service that costs money, and why should they?

(But I can see them putting the foghorn back the first time the Liberation lands up on the rocks)