Lindesnes, the southernmost lighthouse in mainland Norway
This article was written and photographed by 5 Reicherts – photograhy and travels, www.5reicherts.com. The 5 Reichers is a family of five: three kids, two photographers, travel journalists, and always on the road. This article is translated from German. All photos courtesy of 5reicherts.com.
In the morning we invited our Belgian rest stop neighbors for a coffee. The father and his son had slept in their car and looked pretty bleary-eyed. The two of them had arrived at 4:00 in the morning after having traveled 30 hours on a cargo ship.
Despite the rainy weather, we decided to drive to Lindesnes, the southernmost lighthouse on mainland Norway. We know that the weather on the coast can change quickly, and hoped that would happen. Already on the curvy ride on the narrow streets we saw little bits of blue sky. Upon arrival at the lighthouse the sun was shining! From the parking lot I saw mighty waves roll on the rocks under the glaring sun!
Lindesnes is the only lighthouse that, even after the automation, still has a proper lighthouse keeper. We found Rolf Dybvik in the small gallery where he exhibited his watercolors. Most of his pictures show the lighthouse he’s been taking care of for 40 years – most of his professional life. Lindesnes is not only the one lighthouse with a lighthouse keeper, it’s also the only one with an intact foghorn. Rolf was not sure if it’s the only one in Norway, or even worldwide. On a weekend in July is foghorn day, when visitors can hear the fog horn – well, rather they try, while pressing their hands to his ears to hear their own thoughts.
What does a lighthouse keeper do today?
In 1979, when the lighthouse was automated, the work of Rolf changed. He is now in charge of the weather station, caretaker of the apartments, and is responsible for the maintenance of the whole complex. The tanned, weathered lighthouse keeper takes care of problems that might occur in Fyrgryta restaurant. The phone rings and he has to go and fix the freezer.
We climb the stairs to the lighthouse on the hill, the wind is strong, wild, and gusty. No wonder the ferry ride yesterday felt so rough. The sea was like an over-boiling pot of water. It made taking pictures fun anyway, even if long exposures were very difficult, the storm tore violently at the tripods.
At the port we met a family from the Netherlands. They had just returned from a diving trip, diving and photo equipment were drying on the ground. Within minutes we were engaged in an intense conversation. We share the passion for the underwater world, even if I only do dry underwater photography”! With radiant eyes I looked at the series of underwater photos the two men had taken.
In the afternoon we sat together with Rolf in the restaurant to learn more interesting facts about the lighthouse and Rolf’s life. The food, klippfisk – dry fish from Lofoten, was excellent. Gunter’s and the boys’ eyes shone.
No dance on roses
Rolf commented that the job as a lighthouse keeper was not the “dance on roses” that many tourists think it is. The job is demanding and 24/7. For two weeks, Rolf lives with constant readiness in the lighthouse keeper’s house, then he’s back home for two weeks. The working day is determined by the weather, if it is stormy and wet, maintenance is done inside. Once the weather is better, he works outdoors. This life leads inevitably to a feeling of deep respect for nature. Rolf loves the sea so much that, while working at Lindesnes, he can hardly sleep from excitement. Somehow, I can well understand. It happens to me too when we are traveling near the sea.
Earlier, the life as a lighthouse keeper was much lonelier. Today, the houses of the former lighthouse keeper assistants are rented to tourists, which adds variety to the everyday life. Rolf is sure that the environment has influenced him positively, almost all visitors are friendly and in a good mood. Only when it is really stormy, he finds his job very hard. It happens now and again that tourists appreciate the sea and its violence in a wrong way. Sheltered from the wind, people walk up the hill, and do not expect high waves on the ocean side. He told of the sad times of stress, when unwary tourists were washed into the sea. Sometimes the rescue succeeded, but not always.
Rolf proudly shows us his workshop – hundreds of tools hanging in neat rows, clean and well sorted. Here, he handles all materials from wood to metal.
Next door is his studio – on the door hangs a life-size portrait of a one-legged, bearded lighthouse keeper. The hundreds-of-years-old wooden leg hangs on the wall. It washed up on the beach one day after the lighthouse keeper disappeared and was never seen again. But his spirit had visited Rolf, and he now tells the story to the world.
Lighthouse photography, day and night
The next two days were reserved for taking photographs. Day and night we were on our feet. Travel photography and journalism can also be a very interesting 24/7 job.
Next to us, an Austrian family was parked with their VW bus. When the light was rather uninteresting, we chatted, and in between we walked along the coast to the West or East. Farther to the South is not possible.
West of the lighthouse the waves slammed violently on the rocks. I had to do a strenuous climb to capture the dramatic waves on the memory card. I was already a little queasy, because I was traveling alone and it was the anniversary of my broken leg in Lofoten.
In the evening we walked up the hill with Alex, we wanted to give him a serious introduction to photography. The light was no longer as dramatic as the first evening, where rain and sun caused alternating light and grandiose moods conjured by the storm. Nevertheless, we got some classic evening moods.
Back home I secured duplicate photos on hard drives only to strike out again immediately afterwards. The almost clear, starry night was a moving experience. The clouds were moving rapidly across the sky, at times hiding the full moon granting him hto pour light over the seascape here and there. The lighthouse sends a divided, peculiarly narrow and fairly leisurely light beam over the ocean and rocks in the foreground. Again and again I had the impression that someone was running over the rocks, it was only the light beam from the lighthouse. We were alone in the night.
After 2:00 clock we crawled tired, but satisfied into bed. My alarm clock woke me again shortly after 6 am, so I did not miss the soft morning light. Still tired, I carefully climbed over the rocks down to the water to catch a dynamic view of the hill with the lighthouse. I made the mistake of going back to bed afterwards. I had weird dreams and woke up very confused. I could have saved myself these arduous two hours of sleep.
By late morning it was completely calm. Hundreds of thousands of small insects took advantage of this to suck our blood. Because of that, we refrained from staying outdoors for long. A light wind was enough to drive the pests away again.