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Fiction- Stories, Myths and Legends. THE LEGEND OF THE VANISHING LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS. PARTS 1-6.





( The following is a work of fiction, but is based on a real event.
All the names, locations and dates are taken from case studies of the actual event.)

Lighthouse, Storm, Ocean, Blender

The Captain of the Hesperus peered through his Spyglass and spoke to the man next to him. "Sorry Moore," he began,"I still don't see any sign of life, and we've hailed them three times."

Joseph Moore was standing next to Captain Harvie and along with the Helmsman, were the only three occupants on the Bridge.  It was the day after Christmas, but there was no feeling of "Peace on Earth" or "Good will to Men" inside Moore.  The Lighthouse on the island of Eilean Mor was still dark, and there was no sign of his three comrades.

Captain Harvie continued, "When were about 150 yds out, I'll heave to and send in a landing party to investigate.  I assume you'll want to be part of it."

Moore nodded without looking at Harvie. "What could have happened," he thought to himself, "Why can't we make contact?" Moore knew that the bare flagpole, which was located near the living quarters, was a bad sign.  Distress signals indicating problems on the island, could be relayed to neighboring islands or passing ships by raising certain signal flags available to the Keepers stationed on the island.

Captain Harvie was usually annoyed when someone aboard his ship did not answer his questions with a prompt verbal reply. He considered it to be a breach of etiquette and disrespectful to his command.  However, this was different. He was familiar with the type of man it took to be a Lighthouse Keeper, and confrontation over this matter would lead to no good.  Ultimately, it was his responsibility to get the Light working again, and to find out why it went out. He, therefore, would not risk antagonizing Moore.  This man was his best bet in finding the truth.

End of PT 1.





THE LEGEND OF THE VANISHING
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS.  PT 2.
Lighthouse, Night, Tower, Illuminated
Harvie turned away from Moore and stepped outside the bridge. Though the weather had improved, it was still icy cold.  The Captain turned up the collar on his coat and looked out on the foredeck of his ship.  Several sailors were busy with the daily routine of ships maintenance, under the supervision of his second mate.

"Mr. MacDonald," Harvie called out addressing the mate, "Secure the detail and prepare the launch for going ashore.  Then report to me on the bridge."

The reply was immediate. "Aye Captain, who will be in the landing party?"

"Never mind that now", was the answer, "Carry on with the orders."

Harvie stepped back inside the bridge, and observed Moore still staring straight ahead, as if in a trance. "No", thought Harvie, "Moore won't be a problem. Nothing on Gods green earth could keep him off the launch with his comrades missing."

However, choosing the right men to accompany him might be a problem.  Sailors, by nature, were a superstitious lot.  Given the situation and history of the island, proper selection was a must.  He couldn't risk sending someone ashore who believed that the supernatural was behind the disappearances, without considering alternative explanations.

Eilean Mor is the largest of the Flannan Isles, which are part of the Outer Hebrides that lie off the western coast of Scotland.  Uninhabited for much of its history, it does contain a chapel dedicated to St Flannan which pre-dates the Lighthouse by hundreds of years.  Built in the late nineteenth century, the Lighthouse became operational in 1899.  Attempts to settle the island never lasted very long, and it was
considered to be inhabited by spirits who did not like visitors, even for a short time.

Both Harvie and Moore were aware of the islands history, but nothing from the past had ever occurred that mirrored the present day mystery.  James Ducat, Thomas Marshall, and Donald Macarthur seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.

The first sign of trouble was reported on Dec. 15.  A passing ship, the Archtor, reported that when it passed the island in foul weather that the light was not operating.  Other ships had reported the same, so there was little doubt that there was something dreadfully wrong on the island.  Neglecting the light was a serious offense, and it was inconceivable that all three men would allow such a thing to happen if it was in their power to prevent it.
End of PT 2.

Date- 11/24/2013.


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THE LEGEND OF THE VANISHING
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS.
PT 3.


Lighthouse, Gloucester, Breakwater





A half-hour later, Captain Harvie was in his cabin, located just off the bridge.

The Hesperus was anchored securely just off the coast of Eilean Mor and the east -side landing was easily visible under the uncharacteristically cloudless sky.
There were actually two landing sites on the island, the other was located on the west-side of the island.  However, the east-side landing was preferred because it offered shelter against the turbulent North Atlantic.

Harvie was seated at his desk, and was carefully studying a schedule that rested on it.  Even though he had read it many times in the past few days, Harvie kept returning to it, as if he was missing something.

The schedule was the official document that broke down the Duties, Safety Procedures, Maintenance Instructions and Dates for the landing of new supplies, that every Lighthouse Keeper serving the tower on Eilean Mor had to learn.  Even more important, it broke down the appointed personnel then serving on the island.

Joseph Moore was part of a four man crew that ran the day to day operations responsible for keeping the light operating 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.  The Manifest of Personnel consisted of :
  • James Ducat- Principal Keeper.
  • William Ross- 1st Assistant Keeper.
  • Thomas Marshall- 2nd Assistant Keeper.
  • Joseph Moore- Relief Keeper.  However, Ross had become ill several months before, and Donald Macarthur had been sent in to replace him as an occasional.
The four men worked on a rotating basis. Three men on duty at any one time, with the fourth man given shore leave that lasted two weeks.  At the end of the two weeks the Hesperus would leave the mainland with supplies necessary for the proper operation of the Lighthouse, and to meet the needs of those who were there to keep it running.  The ship would also transport the Keeper on shore at the time to the island to resume his duties.  After depositing its' cargo ashore, the Hesperus would depart, taking a different Keeper for a Fortnights time off.

Harvie put the the schedule in his shirt pocket, and sat back thinking about any possible circumstances that may have been overlooked that could explain the disappearances.  He recalled the conversation he had with Moore just before they cast off for Eilean Mor, regarding the strange and possibly tragic situation. The Hesperus had been scheduled to return to the island on Dec 21, but foul weather had forced a delay.

"I can't understand it," Moore had said to Harvie, while they were standing on the dock as the Hesperus was made ready to sail for the return to Eilean Mor.

Moore had continued, "Jim runs a tight ship. If he could draw a breath, there is no way the light would be allowed to go out."   Harvie knew that "Jim" was a reference to James Ducat, the Principal who was in charge of operations on the island.

"Well," Harvie replied, "could one of the others have snapped, and ... you know..."

Moore cut him off.  "Tommy is as reliable and stable a Lighthouse man as you'll ever meet.  I know Macarthur is an occasional, and was there because of Ross being sick and all, but he knows the business and volunteered as a replacement.
Nope, I'd sooner believe they were taken by a Kraken, then one of them turning on the other two."
End of PT 3.

Date- 12/25/2013.


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THE LEGEND OF THE VANISHING
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS.
PT 4.

Lighthouse, Night, Light, Tower, Mood


The Launch made its way slowly towards the east-side landing on Eilean Mor.  Aboard the small craft were Keeper Joseph Moore, Second Mate MacDonald and Seaman Jones, both members of the crew of the Hesperus.

Captain Harvie watched the progress of the launch from the bow of his ship.  He had deep misgivings about the situation that was unfolding, and possibly putting his ship and crew at risk.

However, he had no choice.  The Light on Eilean Mor had been out for days and needed to be activated as soon as possible.  Naturally, the real mystery was not that the Light was out, but that there seemed to be no one on Eilean Mor present to tend the Beacon.  His directions to the landing party were precise;  Check the Lighthouse and the Living Quarters for any sign of the missing men.  If they could not be located, the shore party was to return immediately to the Hesperus.  There was to be no comprehensive search until after the Light was functioning again.

"Mr MacDonald," Jones began, "Is it true what they say, that they have all gone missing?"

The Second Mate sighed,  and turned to the man who was next to him at the stern of the Launch.  ''Lad," he replied, " You know just as much as I do.  The Captain and Moore..." (He Gestured with his head to the man sitting at the Bow of the Launch), "...are pretty tight lipped about this whole thing.  But I say this, the Captain is worried about what we may find, or maybe, what we do not find."
End of PT 4.

Date- 1/5/2014.


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THE LEGEND OF THE VANISHING 
LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS.
PT 5.


Yaquina, Lighthouse, Oregon, Coast










As the Launch slowed, and came alongside the Dock, Jones jumped onto the wooden platform and secured the mooring rope to one of the pilings.  MacDonald controlled the momentum, and the boat was soon nestled against the arrival spot for visitors on the east-side landing.

Carefully, MacDonald stepped off and joined Jones on the Dock.  He turned around and looked back into the Launch.  Moore was still standing at the bow, staring at the Dock and mumbling something under his breath.

"What is it Moore?", he asked in an annoyed tone, "Are you just going to stand there, come on we've got work to do."  Slowly, Moore left the launch and joined his two companions on the dock.  Turning to face MacDonald he chuckled and said, "I thought to be a second mate, you had to have some sense."

MacDonald flushed angrily, "What the hell is that suppose to mean?", he replied stepping in so close that he and Moore were nearly nose to nose.

Moore smiled grimly and calmly said, "Come on Mac, this isn't your first trip.  Look around, what are we not seeing that we should."

Stepping away from Moore, the Mate moved his head back and forth, surveying the Dock. He then turned and lifted his face upward.  The Lighthouse was clearly visible, for it was located about 150 ft above the east-side landing.  As he looked, it dawned on him what Moore had meant when he said "...what we are not seeing that we should."

Turning back to Moore, he backed up a couple of steps, and quietly replied in a voice filled with regret.  ''Your right, I didn't think.  The Dock should be filled with empty casks and containers for us to take back aboard after we land fresh supplies."

"Yes", Moore said, as he too took a turn looking up at the light.  "But you know it's worse then that."  Without another word, Moore turned and began to climb up the slope leading to the Light.

The two shipmates stared silently at Moore, as he began his ascension.  Finally, after a couple of minutes, Jones spoke. "Mr. MacDonald, what did it mean, when he said it gets worse."

The Mate didn't turn to face Jones, but answered as he continued to watch Moore.
"Anyone manning the light, in this weather, would have seen the approach of the Hesperus hours ago.  Even if they didn't hear the hails from the ship, only a blind man could have not have noticed the ship, and our journey ashore in the Launch. In the past, these conditions always meant one thing;  At least one of the three man crew present on the island, greeting us at the Dock."
End of PT 5.

Date- 1/26/2014.


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THE LEGEND OF THE VANISHING 

LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS.
PT 6.
Lighthouse, Night, Beacon, Historic

"Alright lad," MacDonald said, addressing Jones as he turned away from watching Moores ascent to the Light. "The Captain wants us to unload the supplies while we wait for Moore to come back down."

Captain Harvie had given the Second Mate detailed instructions before the Launch cast off, the destination being the east-side landing on Eilean Mor.

"Mr. MacDonald", the Captain had begun as the two faced each other in Harvies cabin. "Choose one of the crew to accompany you and Moore ashore.  Three men are enough to do what is needed.  Load supplies that may be necessary to get the Light functioning again."

"Aye Captain", was the immediate answer by his subordinate.  Then, with obvious hesitation, the Mate asked "What about Food, Water and Medical supplies?  I mean, they could still be..."

Harvie cut him off in mid-sentence, and spoke with a determined tone in his voice. "If all is well, and this is just a case of a breakdown in communications, I'll make sure that all supplies are landed by night fall. However, if the circumstances do not warrant landing such necessities, it would be wasted time and effort."

MacDonald understood the implied meaning in his Captains words, and did not press the issue. Changing the subject, he asked, "Do you think Jones would be a good choice for the third member of the landing party?"

Harvie smiled slightly.  He appreciated an officer who could understand a situation, even if it was unspoken.

Addressing the Mate, Harvie replied, "I trust your judgment, so Jones it is." 

Harvie turned, walked over to his desk, and sat down.  After a moment, he looked up at his Second Mate, and in a solemn voice issued his final orders.

"You and Jones are to land with Moore, but I want you both to unload the supplies while Moore investigates the Tower.  Do not accompany him initially, but wait until he returns and tells you what he has found.  If it is positive, return to the ship immediately.  If the situation seems dire, I want you and Jones to follow Moore on a return trip to the Tower.  Keep in mind his initial report on what he has found, and see if it matches up with what you and Jones encounter.  Be thorough and careful.  Return to the ship when you feel that you have an accurate grasp of the situation."

Harvie stood up, and extended his hand to MacDonald. "Good luck Mr. Mate.  I'm counting on you."
End of PT 6.