Leuchtfeuer: Richtfeuer: Oberfeuer, Mittelfeuer, Unterfeuer; Leitfeuer: Molenfeuer, Einfahrtsfeuer; Quermarkenfeuer; Torfeuer, Uferfeuer

“Light fires,” beautiful lighthouse signal lights used to guide ships in darkness or other low-visibility conditions. There’s a bewildering but quite satisfying variety in German.

  • Guide fire (Leitfeuer): single lights used in a sectors system to communicate safe passages to ships; can use color, blinking rhythm, &c. (LIGHT foy ah.)
  • Jetty fire (Molenfeuer), entryway fire (Einfahrtsfeuer): a guide light on the end of a harbor’s wall or breakwater. (MOLE en foy ah,   EYE n fah rtsfoy ah.)
  • Crossways fire (Quermarkenfeuer): sector lights perpendicular to the channel. As in the Leitfeuer system, the middle sector is the safe passage and the outer sectors indicate a course correction is necessary. (KVER mark en foy ah.)
  • Directional fires (Richtfeuer) mark navigable channels with a top fire (Oberfeuer) and bottom fire (Unterfeuer) and—more rarely—a center fire (Mittelfeuer), aligned so that to ships in the channel they appear directly behind one another. (RICHHT foy ah, OH berr foy ah, OON terr foy ah, MITT ellll foy ah.)
  • Gate fire (Torfeuer), bank fire (Uferfeuer): lights along a riverbank.

(LOY chh t foy ah.)

 

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