Wanted: Couple to run Victorian B&B on an island in the strait that separates San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay. Must cook, clean, entertain guests and have a U.S. Coast Guard commercial boat operator's license.
The call has gone out for new innkeepers at the East Brother Light Station. Located on a spit of land just north of San Francisco and west of Richmond, East Brother is an operating light station and a unique island getaway.
Just getting to East Brother is an adventure. After taking the last exit before the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toll plaza, you drive along a remote stretch of road to the San Pablo Yacht Harbor. There, you travel about 10 minutes by boat across choppy gray waters to the island.
Your job, should you choose to apply, is to run the 141-year-old light station and the inn with its five period motif guest rooms. Oh -- and it doesn't hurt to have a few seafaring stories to share.
The old photos in the parlor help bring the history of the light station and its caretakers to life. One of them was Oaklander Walter Fanning, whose grandfather operated East Brother light station from 1914-1921. As a child, Walter would fish for rock cod and perch off the dock. Much later, he came back to run the light station himself. One of the five guest rooms is named "Walter's Quarters."
On the night I stayed at East Brother, the wind was whipping the waves against the rocky shoreline. But inside, the fire in the parlor stove spurred warm conversation.
My fellow guests were all locals. There was the young East Bay couple who ran an online used book store, a professor and her engineering husband from Orinda, a consultant, a retiree, my friend and me.
Dinner was an elegant affair, and the conversation continued well into the night. The next morning we arose to a dawn that tossed sun shards on the Bay like jewels.
I took my coffee on the outdoor patio with the white picket fence that encircled the island. After a week of raucous storms, the water was calm. Tugboats, dinghies and all manner of marine craft were motoring past the island. The seabirds and I had a front-row seat.
The innkeepers, meanwhile, were once again cooking. It was clear to me that they do indeed use all 900 pounds of groceries that they haul in by boat each week from "the mainland."
It takes a lot of energy to run a light station inn. It takes a captain, a chef, a handyman, storyteller and maid -- all embodied in one couple. But for anyone who can cut it, I imagine it's the job of a lifetime.