California island offers $130,000 for new lighthouse keepers

New Year, new you, new job -- looking after a lighthouse in ...

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 2:01 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 2:01 PM

New Year, new you, new job -- looking after a lighthouse in California?

On an idyllic island in the San Pablo Bay, the East Brother Light Station, a lighthouse-turned-inn, is seeking a pair of new keepers. San Pablo Bay is part of the larger San Francisco Bay.

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The position offers $130,000, split between two people. For the money they'll be expected to keep this historic tower up and running.

Historic beacon

East Brother Light Station dates back to 1874, it was established to help sailors navigate the misty waters surrounding San Francisco.

Automated in the 1960s, the lighthouse is still operating -- it's owned by the US Coast Guard and maintained by nonprofit group East Brother Lighthouse Inc. It's been a West Coast bed and breakfast staple since 1979.

"I've been working on it for nearly 40 years and initially it was abandoned and we rehabilitated it and then we looked for some way to produce an ongoing revenue to maintain it," local mayor of Richmond, California, Tom Butt tells CNN Travel.

Butt's also the head of the nonprofit that runs the lighthouse.

"It's in a unique location, it's in San Francisco Bay on an island and it's one of the few -- maybe the only -- bed and breakfast inns that operates in a lighthouse on an island," he adds.

Unique experience

The East Brother website describes visiting the lighthouse as "an adventuresome outdoor experience" -- accessing the island includes climbing from a boat up a vertical ladder that, depending on the tide, is sometimes 12 feet high.

Once you're there, it's a unique experience -- water's in short supply so showers are only available for guests staying upwards of one night.

There are five rooms available, all named after the view from the room's window -- from the Marin room to San Francisco.

East Brother prides itself on serving high quality culinary options, the current house breakfast specialty is a delicious-sounding French Toast Soufflé.

Funds earned by the inn go towards restoration and maintenance of the historic building.

Experience needed

Applicants need to have past experience in hospitality and a seafaring nature -- sadly, it's not enough to just be enamored with the romantic idea of living in a lighthouse.

You'll need a US Coast Guard commercial boat operator's license.

"Unfortunately a lot of people who respond to this, they say 'Oh, surely I can get a license?' They think it's like getting drivers' license -- and it's not, if you don't have it, you're not going to get it," says Butt.

Other job requirements include serving high quality food, housekeeping and ferrying guests from the mainland to the island.

The inn's open four days a week and also hosts special events, including weddings.

The two keepers don't have to be a couple, but they will share close quarters -- so buddying up with someone you get on well with is probably advisable.

"The other thing is you need to have an outgoing personality. When people stay in a place like that, they want to have somebody who is cheerful and makes them feel at home," says Butt.

The outgoing lighthouse keepers are Jillian Meeker and Che Rogers -- Meeker's a skilled cook, while Rogers is a talented boatman who's sailed all over the world.

After two years living and worked at East Brother, the couple are ready for pastures new.

The new inn keepers will start in mid-April 2019, following two weeks training.

Butt says he's had interest in the job from across the globe.

"For some reason this went viral, it's getting inquiries from all over the world -- Asia, Russia, Ukraine," he says.

He also clarifies that to do the job, you need the right to work in the United States.

If you fit all the requirements and you'd like to apply, direct your applications towards Butt now.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the lighthouse has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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