This past June, Richard Foregger and Jude Haukom climbed the ladder for the first time at California’s East Brother Island and its historic lighthouse that is now operated as a first class dinner, bed and breakfast. Before the two could completely settle in, their work as the island’s new innkeepers began. However, their duties are much different than that of the lighthouse keepers who once staffed this island lighthouse located in San Francisco Bay off Point San Pablo.
In February of 2012, the East Brother Light Station launched a search for new innkeepers at the island and its lighthouse. The lighthouse was in need of two individuals who would need to meet critical qualifications. These two would need to be capable of a wide variety of duties that includes preparing and serving both dinner and breakfast, maintaining and cleaning the island, and providing ferry service to and from the island for the guests. Due to the transportation duties, it was paramount for one of the two to have a Coast Guard commercial boat operator’s license.
Richard and Jude were among the eight finalists for the position. After undergoing extensive interviews, the two were offered the opportunity to be East Brother Light Station’s new innkeepers. With both members of the couple having backgrounds in television entertainment, Richard as a director/producer and Jude as an actress, the two were obviously excited, and perhaps somewhat apprehensive, about this new adventure
There was almost no time for the couple to get acclimated with their island duties; the lighthouse was completely booked with guests. “It took me an hour to figure out how to turn the water heater on,” said Richard. Now that they have some experience under their belt, Richard says they quickly got into the grove of things and it has gotten much easier.
The dinner, bed, and breakfast operates Thursday through Sunday of each week, but Richard and Jude work around the clock from Monday to Sunday. “The laundry needs to be dropped off by Monday of each week; we clean and then I come up with the menu for the following weekend. I try to visit local markets for groceries and my ultimate goal is to make the meals special while still staying within budget,” says Jude. When the guests aren’t there for Richard and Jude to tend to and entertain, the two spend the rest of their week preparing for the new guests, which includes many and varied island duties.
When asked what the best part of their job was, Richard expressed his love and fascination with the foghorn; “It’s a mind blowing experience.” Jude expressed her love for the serenity of the island and her enjoyment of the people. “There are all sorts of different people who visit; it’s very interesting. We’re able to meet people we never would have met otherwise, and they always seem to leave happy.”
An experience at East Brother Light Station is definitely a unique one. From its volunteers to its guests, this lighthouse captures the hearts of many. Built in 1874, the historic light station now has its very own special place in the hearts of its modern day innkeepers who perform many of the same duties as did the lighthouse keepers of yesteryear, but in a totally different manner. From those who came before Richard and Jude, to those who will one day follow, this lighthouse is much more than a dinner, bed and breakfast; it’s a special place where one leaves with memories that can be shared with generations.
“Life has a crazy way of turning out; one day you’re one place and the next thing you know you’re somewhere else. Never did I dream I would be here.” - Jude Haukom
For information about East Brother Light Station, visit www.ebls.org Openings are available throughout the summer.
This story appeared in the
Sep/Oct 2012 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
All contents copyright © 1995-2024 by Lighthouse Digest®, Inc. No story, photograph, or any other item on this website may be reprinted or reproduced without the express permission of Lighthouse Digest. For contact information, click here.