The article below recently appeared in the SF Examiner. To visit East Brother Lighthouse or to volunteer, see www.ebls.org. Next volunteer Saturday is August 13.
Get away to an island in San Francisco Bay – setting the scene
Ginger Dingus, , SF Cruise and Train Travel Examiner, July 17, 2011 - Like this?
Spend a night on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay at East Brother Light Station, a one-of-a-kind B&B. Credits: G Dingus
Picture a small island hideaway with a Victorian lighthouse perched above its rocky shore. Now transform that lighthouse into a cozy bed and breakfast inn where dinner is an occasion shared with fellow adventurer seekers. Breakfast is a multi-course treat. Did I mention the welcome glass of Champagne and scrumptious hors d’oeuvres?
Here’s the best part, if you live in the San Francisco Bay area, this charming island B&B is right in your own backyard. You could be enjoying dinner and an incredibly peaceful night here by next weekend – provided other savvy Bay Area locals haven’t already booked all the rooms.
I’m talking about East Brother Light Station, a five-room B&B on East Brother Island. The island is located north of the Richmond Bridge. It’s near the spot where the San Francisco Bay meets San Pablo Bay and is next to tiny West Brother Island.
As an overnight guest, you’ll park at the San Pablo Bay Sportsman’s Club and take a 10-minute motor boat cruise over to the lighthouse. Once there, and depending on the tides, you climb a ladder a few steps (or more) up to the dock.
East Brother Light Station was originally built in 1874. In those early days, the light keeper had to row a small boat ashore - 2½ miles to Point San Quentin - for supplies. The signal light, a small Fresnel lens, was lit using pork fat. The fog signal was steam powered. Electricity arrived in 1933, as did an electric light in the lighthouse tower. East Brother Light Station made it on the National Historic Register in 1971. In 1980, it opened as an inn with just two guest rooms.
Today, the wonderfully restored main house has four guest rooms with sweeping bay views. A fifth, more private bedroom is in the old fog signal building. Not to worry, this signal is no longer used. Be aware, however, that the modern, less loud fog signal sounds every 20 seconds between October 1 and April 1. The rest of the year, the island is blissfully quiet.
Tips: Be sure to pack light. Dress is totally casual. Guests staying one night (the norm) are asked not use the showers as water is like gold here. It comes from rain and is in short supply.
East Brother Light Station is open to guests four nights per week, from Thursday through Sunday. The price of your room includes boat transfers, welcome treats, dinner with wine, breakfast and a demonstration of the historic fog signal by the innkeeper.
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