Keri Lighthouse

Port View 1960

The history of Keri lighthouse goes back for hundreds of years. The island of Keri is located away from the mainland, therefore it is good orient for navigating close to the shore. Nevertheless, the island itself and its shallow areas remain a danger for the sailors. That is the main reason why there has been a live-fire held for signaling long before the actual lighthouse was built.

Keri is first mentioned on the nautical map in 1623. Willem Janszoon Blaeu, a cartographer from Netherland releases a shipping atlas „Zeespiegle“ (Mirror of the Sea). In a logbook that was part of the atlas is mentioned the following about Keri: „Little empty sandbank, sea mark in the middle.“

In Blaeus atlas on the map of Gulf in Finland, similar sea mark has also been marked for Vaindloo. Even more interesting is the name marked for Vaindloo – Eylandt met de stengh. Direct translation – island with sea mark. Word „steng“ in Deutch can mean a post or sea mark from wood.

Within the next two hundred years, the name of Eylandt met de stengh is slowly changing to Stångskäretiks, Stengholmiks, Stengskäriks and finally even to Stenskäriks meaning Stone Island. When it comes to the history of Keri, the initial name of Vaindloo is important as it is giving us a reason to claim – the first sea mark on Keri was made out of wood, not stone, as it has been predicted.

In the atlas of Blaeu a stone pillar as sea mark has been marked also for Kõpu lighthouse in Hiiumaa. Known from history, a fire has been lit on Kõpu pillar since the mid-17th century. So we can say that in the mid-17th century Kõpu, Keri and Vaindloo were equal sea marks. Regardless that they were made out of different materials and the first of them was 100 years older than the other two.

Keri 1934

The becoming of the stone pillar of Kõpu is well known. When it comes to Keri and Vaindloo, history remains silent. We can only aim the line of events. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Gulf of Finland had become the central sea of Sweden. Previous infrequent sea traffic coming from east had become more frequent. Many ships needed to sail from Sweden to Inger (Ingermanland) or to our Eastern capital Narva and back. 

The Gulf of Finland, however, was not familiar to the majority of sailors and was difficult to navigate. Building masts to Keri and Vaindloo was not hard and it improved the safety of sailing the area noticeably. The majority of navigating was always done within the first half of the summer, during the white nights, when it was easy to notice the stenges. Sailing on autumn was mainly voided, as the nights became dark and the weather usually very windy. 

Keri and Vaindloo sea marks mentioned by Blaeu were marked and confirmed also in following more detailed maps published by atlas makers during the 17th century. For example, a map from Swede Petter Gedda publishes 1695 was very well known in Estonia. 

At the beginning of the 18th century, sea traffic became more intense in the Gulf of Finland. As a result of the Great Northern War within a decade, the Gulf of Finland turned from being the central sea of Sweden to be a gateway to Russia. Around every bigger gate, there’s always a struggle and it needs proper protection. 

On the command of Peter the Great an unprecedented fleet was built to sail the Gulf of Finland. 

If in 1710 Russia only has 12 bigger sailers and 8 galleys (boats with up to 50 pairs of rows that were well suitable for war raids within Swedish skerry), then within the next 8 years the number of sailboats had risen up to 40ˇand number of galleys over 200. 

Visitors 1930s.