$140,000 job comes with San Francisco waterfront views, room and board — however there’s a catch – Marin Impartial Journal
RICHMOND — Can you ferry a boat, sling delicious hors d’oeuvres, tidy up bedsheets and make guests feel at home in a five-room inn in the middle of San Pablo Bay?
If so, the picturesque East Brother Light Station may have a job for you.
Applications are open for two new innkeepers to keep the nearly 150-year-old lighthouse up and running for two years, starting in April 2023.
“People who typically apply have been in the hospitality industry and they like working with the public; they’re people who have worked on boats for a long time,” said Tom Butt, Richmond’s outgoing mayor and president of the East Brother Light Station Inc., which runs the lighthouse. “It’s very attractive for those type of people: Boats and lighthouses are like peanut butter and jelly.”
Perched on a rocky mound near Point Molate and visible from the Richmond Bridge, the iconic bed-and-breakfast offers beautiful panoramic views of the San Francisco and San Pablo bays.
In addition to seasonal day visits and special events, visitors on the island can enjoy rented-out rooms inside the goldenrod California Victorian structures — surrounded by miles of shimmering salt water and the occasional harbor seal — Thursday through Sunday for $475 to $525 a night.
While it’s a dream job for some, the role is not an breeze or some cushy, luxury getaway.
“It’s a really cool place, but the one thing the job doesn’t allow you to do is sit around and drink piña coladas while enjoying the view,” Butt said. “It’s hard work.”
Innkeepers must assume the role of maid, boat captain, gift shop attendant, tour guide, host and chef with “high-quality culinary experience” to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. Applicants who are smokers, live with children or have pets will not be selected.
Additionally, at least one of the innkeepers must have a Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential boat operator’s license, in order to safely ferry guests from the launch at 1900 Stenmark Drive in Richmond to East Brother Island and back.
Two previous innkeepers, Tiffany Danse and Tyler Waterson, estimated they worked at least 80 to 90 hours each week to maintain East Brother Light Station, which is a registered California Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The current innkeepers, Bryan and Stephanie Wesolek, will be leaving after their two-year commitment comes to a close at the end of March.
RICHMOND, CA – JAN. 27: A barge is pushed through the narrows between the East Brothers Light Station and Point San Pablo, part of the coastline of Richmond, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
The newly chosen duo, which does not have to be a romantic couple, will be compensated with a majority portion of the profits of the inn, after the expenses of operation are subtracted. On top of benefits like a health care plan, two weeks of vacation and onsite living quarters on the nearly three-quarters of an acre island, the keepers’ gross pay in 2021-22 was $140,000 split between them.
Butt said there are other perks, too, such as tips and networking opportunities to land future gigs. “You might make me your future employer while working,” he said.
Butt said the staff is supported by volunteers who help out with maintenance of the facilities, such as painting and repair jobs around the grounds. While the $300,000 nonprofit has a list of 300 volunteers, there is a core group of a dozen stewards who work the grounds weekly, Butt said.
And without access to Wi-Fi, reliable cell service and plumbing — aside from a rainwater catchment and cistern system — the job takes the concept of “remote work” to another level.
The nonprofit, which Butt founded, has leased the island from the Coast Guard and run the business, primarily as a means to afford costly repairs and upkeep.
The restored inn was opened in 1980, a few decades after the Coast Guard decommissioned the island’s historic lighthouse keepers in favor of automatic boat beacons.
More information about East Brother Light Station and the innkeeper job can be found at www.ebls.org, and questions may be emailed to EastBrotherLightStationJOBS@gmail.com.
IJ reporter Adrian Rodriguez contributed to this report.