More than 50 couples vying for job to run lighthouse bed and breakfast

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Applications to manage and run the historic East Brother Light Station bed and breakfast inn off the coast of Richmond arrived from France, Russia, Spain, India, China, Vietnam, Turkey and Italy, and from states nationwide. 

Seems running a five-room inn four nights a week, giving tours to daytime weekend visitors, shuttling boat passengers, preparing and serving breakfast and dinner and keeping the place sparkling clean is a desirable job for couples across the globe.

There’s no TV or Internet, but who needs to watch "Law and Order" reruns or scroll  through Facebook when you have an incomparable, 360-degree view of the Bay Area, and a chance to meet interesting guests, including birds and marine mammals, who come by to visit. Oh, and you get to live and work far away from clogged freeways, crowded strip malls and bothersome neighbors. 

“For some reason, this opportunity went viral world-wide, and we have received more applications than ever before, including thousands of email inquiries from individuals who do not have the basic qualifications, including U.S. citizenship (or green card) and a U.S. Coast Guard license. So we are somewhat overwhelmed,’’ said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, who is the president of the East Brother Light Station. 

Applications came from doctors and teachers, marine business owners, chefs, media professionals, boat captains and hospitality workers They wrote flowery and boastful letters about their desire for the unique position and why they are qualified for the job.   

 “I am writing you because we are a young (26 & 31) lovely French couple (without children) interested (in) the position of keepers. Our dream is to live in San Francisco and we love to try new experience together such as living in a lighthouse,’’ wrote one applicant. “We are from Bordeaux and it will be the opportunity to bring a piece of France into your lighthouse especially our famous food."

But without the proper U.S. Coast Guard license, the couple were taken out of the running for the job.

But plenty others have the needed boat operation license. 

“I have been a licensed captain for 22 years, and have extensive experience on numerous types of vessels. The main source of experience that would put myself in the running for this position is seven years operating dinner/entertainment vessels,’’ one applicant wrote. “I dealt with thousands of passengers of all types and enjoyed that immensely. Part of the job of a deckhand, steward, captain, helmsman, and any other vessel job is preparing food to feed the hungry crew. I learned how to create flavorful meals in appropriate portions. My experience working tug boats, ocean liners, dive vessels, and fishing vessels lead me to a teaching position allowing me to teach high school students maritime trade options."

A retired teacher from Napa said her personal recollections of the lighthouse propelled her to apply for the job. 

“I remember passing East Brother Light Station one lovely-sunny day while traveling from the Napa Valley Marina to Pier 39 in San Francisco. It took my breath away. I immediately began to fantasize about how wonderful it would be to live in such a beautiful place,’’ she wrote. “When we arrived at our destination and had cell coverage and wi-fi, we googled the lighthouse and I learned all about it. Since then, we have passed by the lighthouse and island many times. Those fantasies always return each time we pass by.” 

The application period closed Tuesday and Butt said there are currently about 50 applications that met the requirements for the job. A review process will begin Friday. 

Butt said the hiring team will then create a “short list" of 6 to 12 applicants that will be interviewed. Then the top 3 to 5 applicants will have the chance to visit the lighthouse, spend the night and see how the operation is run. 

A final selection should be made by mid-March, and training will begin mid-April.

The couple who lands the job don’t have to be a married pair, just two people who must live and work together in close quarters.  The job pays roughly $130,000 annually and also includes a health plan and living quarters on the island. The new inn keepers will take over around May 1.

The 1874 lighthouse and fog signal sits on an island in San Francisco Bay and is a registered California Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard but maintained for public use by a non-profit corporation. Since 1979, it has been operated as one of California's most unique bed and breakfast inn. It's been described as the perfect romantic getaway, a great tourist destination and a unique Bay Area treasure. 

In fact, romance novelist Danielle Steel stayed at the inn around 1991 or 1992," according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle

"It was a big fiasco for her. She wrote like an 11-page letter about how miserable her experience was. And it was so obviously written by a novelist, describing things like an 'aura of terror.' I think she likened it to spending a night on Cape Fear,'' according to the story. 

Clearly, Steel’s account of her stay has not deterred visitors or potential employees. East Brother has consistently garnered five stars from Yelp and TripAdvisor and thousands of people from around the globe were interesed in the unique job.