National Geographic : 1965 Apr
revictualing, departing; tugs, lighters, tankers; sailors every where; and still more ships in the roadstead, which is large enough to hold all the war fleets of Europe. Apart from its naval importance, the harbor thrives on commerce: the import-export of agricultural produce and heavy-industry cargoes from and to all parts of the world. How much traffic? I got a fair idea during my visit to the off-lying Ile d'Ouessant. On the lofty gallery of the light house called Creac'h, I talked with one of the keepers. "About 40,000 ships pass by this lighthouse in a year," he said. "Sometimes you can see 20 at once." I could also see the need for this lighthouse near the Ile's west end, as well as another at the northeastern tip and two more rising from insidious shoals and rocks in the surround ing waters. Indeed, the reefs, currents, and fogs have heaped sinister fame upon Ouessant; they have caused too many shipwrecks down through the years for maritime annals to count. And this "isle of tempests" inspired the Breton saying, "Who sees Ouessant sees his blood." But Ouessant makes a brighter claim: The Creac'h light house is the world's most powerful, with a normal range of 24 miles. Coordinating with a beam from Land's End in England, it guides ships in the night to the entrance of the English Channel. My lighthouse view ranged over the five-mile-long island Country couple enjoys a quiet meal in Meriadec's late afternoon sunshine: tangy cider to quench the thirst and mellow cheese and crusty bread to satisfy the stomach. Built-in lits clos, like Pullman berths, keep the Jean Chap alains snug at night in the living room-bedroom-kitchen of their home near Penvenan. Holes in hand-carved, lovingly 492 polished chestnut panels provide ventilation.