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PostHeaderIcon Get Away: To A Lighthouse in the SF Bay

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It may have been a well-kept secret that quite a small island located just 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco in the Richmond Bay is home to a unique dinner, bed and breakfast inn.  However, East Brother Light Station, built in 1873, has been operating as an active lighthouse for 133 years, first and foremost as an adjunct to the navigation of mariners in the San Pablo and San Francisco Bays.  Two islands on the east of the San Pablo Strait are named The Brothers.  Two similar islands on the west are referred to as The Sisters.  A long and colorful history of use extends since the lighting of the civilian manually-operated beacon of East Brother Light Station in 1874.

After WWII, Coast Guard personnel replaced civilian light keepers, tending the station around the clock, providing for all forms of maintenance and ferrying supplies from shore to the island.  The conversion to automation of the beacon’s operation in 1969 and the subsequent placement of EBLS on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, brought with it a new and brighter focus.  The lighthouse had survived storm waves, earthquakes, gales, collisions by ships and a major fire over its lifetime.

By 1979, a 20 year renewable license, issued to restore and occupy the station and operate a Bed and Breakfast Inn sparked the interest and efforts of over 300 volunteers to begin restoration of this pillar of light. Saving the lighthouse from destruction, enthusiasm and overwhelming community support brought their efforts to fruition in less than 1 year, as supplies and personnel were ferried across from Richmond in private boats.
Now in full swing for over 30 years is a California historical Victorian lighthouse B&B, where dinner is served the evening of arrival via a guest ferry service of 10 minutes time across the bay.  Adventure begins in the open boat, captained by host, Richard Foregger, a Coast Guard commercially licensed operator.  Once docked upon the island, guests are greeted by partner and hostess, Jude Haukom, who conveys a sense of serenity in sharing this special landmark with visitors and guests.

With new-found experience as inn keepers since June 2012, the couple both have backgrounds in television entertainment, Richard as a director/producer and Jude as an actress.  Haukom remarks “We’re able to meet people we never would have met otherwise, and they always seem to leave happy.”  Foregger expresses his fascination with the foghorn, “It’s a mind blowing experience.”

The dinner, bed and breakfast inn is available for bookings Thursday through Sunday of each week, with a choice of 5 queen bed accommodation options.   Two rooms have private baths, two rooms share a bath and another choice is in an intimate separate building, farthest from the foghorn.  All have different views and one is equipped with a wood-burning fireplace.  The modern amenities of propane fueling and solar panels for water-heating provide comfort to this unique retreat, where gourmet food, nostalgia, charm and expansive views of San Francisco skyline, Mt. Tamalpais and the Marin coastline etch a landmark memory  for visiting  guests.  

Rates include harbor parking, the boat ride to and from with pick up at Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor at  4 pm and return by 11 am next day, evening hors d’oeuvres and complimentary champagne, a tour of the lighthouse with history and demonstration of the diaphone fog horns, a 4 course dinner with complimentary wines, topped off with a full gourmet breakfast in the morning.  For reservations and virtual tour of the rooms, go to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call:  510 233-2385.

Consideration should be given to the requirement for physical stamina and strength to climb from a bobbing boat up a vertical ladder.  No pets are allowed and the minimum age requirement for the stay is 18 years old.  Fishing is allowed with a license, and for groups of up to 12, luncheons and parties may be arranged.  During summer months, day use on Saturdays at a $20 charge includes the boat transportation and a guided tour of the island.

Funds earned by the Inn, through its non-profit, corporation, pay for ongoing restoration and maintenance costs of the buildings and equipment on the island.  Yet, volunteers are needed, “Wickies”, named for those who spent time trimming the oil lamp wicks to keep the lighthouse lamp aflame.  All are welcome who may offer their skills or energy on 2nd Saturday each month.  By registering on the web site, you will receive the monthly e-vite to the work party.  The 9 a.m. to 4 p.m workday includes a short boat ride to the island.   Contact to Angelina Schwark at:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more info.  The adventure will be well worth it!  --KRB


Karen Balch is a retired nurse, avid traveler and freelance writer. Reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated (Wednesday, 02 January 2013 02:03)

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