New leading lights at Tory Channel
New leading lights, a navigation aid to indicate a safe passage for mariners, have been installed at Tory Channel/Kura Te Au.
Housed within the historic timber pyramidal tower structures, the lights are part of the coastal safety system and a vital part of the interisland link.
They are used day and night by Cook Strait ferries and are a crucial landmark for local fishermen and boaties to ensure a safe passage into the narrow entrance of Tory Channel.
The upgrades were completed by members of Council’s Nautical and Coastal team.
The new LED maritime lanterns and power system are connected to mains power - if the power fails the system is powered by a bank of lithium ion batteries that have several days of charge.
The pyramidal towers sit above the beach in Whekenui Bay about 200m apart, strategically in-line with the entrance of Tory Channel.
“When mariners line the two flashing lights above each other, this provides the safe passage line into the channel,” said Hamish, one of the maritime officers responsible for the upgrades. “Once in the channel, other navigation lanterns become visible to continue guiding vessels through.”
“The two lanterns - one in each tower- activate at night on an automatic sensor. Each has a specific flash code that mariners entering the channel can identify to safely guide their vessels in through the narrow heads.”
During the day, mariners line the white structures up for their guiding line.
The original Tory Channel leading lights were built in 1881 and were powered by kerosene lamps which needed twice daily attention. That system was used until 1930 when gas was introduced, followed by electricity in the form of batteries.