East Brother Light Station B&B in B&W

On Sunday, J and I floored our economy rental car northward and across the sagging Richmond/San Rafael Bridge.

Our destination was a little know and odd bed and breakfast in the lighthouse of a small island in the strait that separates San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.

We took the first exit in Richmond, did a loop to get back on the highway and exited again right before the toll booths. The road to the marina was hardly scenic despite hugging the shoreline. It passed by busted piers and numbered chain link gates to nothing. Then through an abandoned army base and a public firing range. A dead skunk flirted with us with French sulfuric musk.

A winding, deeply potholed road took us over the hill to the Marina. We were hours early, so we wandered around and tried to not make eye contact with most of the salty characters wandering aimlessly from their boats to piles of rusting metal on the mainland.

One of the classiest yacht harbors in the whole Pt. San Pablo area!

Just a quick drive past busted bay side industry.

An abandoned army base.

Scraggly grass.

Off limit pier.

Slow down for the scenic turn.

Oil tank of the hills.

The yacht harbor spied from above on the only road into it: a winding, rutted road.

No fishing for unspecified reasons.

No fishing enforcement vehicle.

Waiting area.

Ladder bridge to dingy.


Drift crabs.

Siding malfunction.

Only Chevron may pass.

Fishing for whales.

Hot rail.

Our destination.

Around four, one of our hosts arrived in an aluminum, utilitarian boat. We donned life jackets and were off. By now the tide was low, and the otherwise sad looking marina looked even sadder as all of the boats rested in mud.

Our host said that it was the lowest tide of the year, and that the boat might get stuck on sediment unless he gunned it.

Low tide before our eyes.

The Little Ship.

The Honda nuts thrust us violently through the water.

The remains of an old ship, either the James Rolph or Drumburton. They both crashed in about the same place due to the shallow depths.

In ten minutes, our boat reached the island. But due to strong current, disembarking was done by ladder. And afterward the boat was winched out of the water.

We were greeted by his wife, given a brief tour, and were left on our own to wander before champagne and appetizers were served in the lounge.

Our hosts talked about their experience as hosts: the practical and emotional issues of working and living together on a small island. They were a year in, and only half a year from moving on. The foundation was looking for new innkeepers.

Despite J and I’s ears perking up at this news, clear hurdles were immediately apparent. Neither of us had a coast guard commercial boat operator’s license or the experience cooking for groups. And despite my better half being friendly enough for both of us, no hospitality experience.

Our hosts had all this, and it showed.

After a delicious group dinner and enthusiastic conversation, we retired to our room. Beyond the window, the seals and birds of West Brother were throwing a wild party.

But I mostly had trouble sleeping due to the fog horn.

Sun in our eyes, puss in our styes, we approach East Brother Island.

Barnacle ladder from low tide.

Raising aluminum.

The old horn building.

Island agave.

West Brother Island, AKA Guano Rock, AKA The Squawk.

Inside in the horn room.

All it plays is AC/DC.

Spiraling stairs to the light tower.

Backup light.


The Marin room facing west.

Bed and breakfast noir.

In the morning, we woke for breakfast and a demo of the original fog horn that sounded like god’s tuba. At 11, we were back on the boat and heading back to the marina.

Forever not alone.

Rosemary’s branches.


The ramp to the boat house.

Looking back at Shutter island, as our boat scoops us away.

A turkey vulture takes a break from shattering expectations.

It was a short stay by short people on a short island. But life is short, and if you’re not getting up from bed to eat breakfast on an island, you might as well not even get up.

For more information on East Brother Light Station Bed and Breakfast, why not visit their site. For more information on guano, why not excrete yourself over to Wikipedia.

Archives for February, 2012
February 23rd, 2012. Categories / San Francisco

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