August 7, 2016

An Olympic anchor light

THERE WAS SOMETHING very familiar about the picture of the Olympic flame being flown on an airliner to Rio in four special “security lamps.” Those lamps were the same as the one we used for a kerosene anchor light on a voyage from Durban to Fort Lauderdale aboard our 30-footer, Freelance.
In fact, the Olympic flame traveled in four Welsh miner’s Davy lamps which, like ours, were fashioned from shiny brass and glass. The same lamps were used in 2012 when the Olympic cauldron was extinguished after the opening ceremony. The miner’s lamps conveyed the flame to its place at London’s Olympic Stadium.

We chose the miner’s lamp for our anchor light because it is low-tech and totally windproof and weather-proof, although it was a bit of a nuisance because the little screw-off kerosene container had to be refilled every 24 hours or so.

We were also a bit sceptical about the visibility of the little flame, but we were reassured when we found out that a half-inch wide wick will support a flame that can be seen for two miles in the darkness. In any case, nobody ever ran into us at night.

The flame in our lamp, as in the originals, was separated from the outer atmosphere by a thin sheet of metal gauze which would prevent the flame from causing an explosion if a miner encountered flammable gas in a mine shaft.

Our lamp lives at home now and is only lit on special occasions. But I guess I owe it a good polishing now that I know one of its brothers was used to fly the Olympic flame to Rio.

Today’s Thought
Sport begets tumultuous strife and wrath, and wrath begets fierce quarrels and war to the death.
— Horace, Epistles
Two homeless men helped a limping nun across the street.
"What happened to your leg?" asked one.
"I twisted my ankle in the bath," said the nun.
After she'd gone, one man asked: "What's a bath, then?"
"Don't ask me," said the other. "I'm not a Catholic."

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