Monday, May 7, 2012

Racing with a full moon - East Brother Lighthouse


There is a lighthouse that sit on a rock island straddling the waters between San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay. The East Brother Lighthouse was built back in 1873. There used to be a number of these lighthouses in the Bay on the little known islands here. The East Brother lighthouse is the only one that survives. As a way to preserve this remaining bit of history, the Lighthouse is now a Bed and Breakfast. Glenn and I were gifted with a night at East Brother Light house by our daughter Katie last Christmas. Saturday was our day to head to the Island.
The lighthouse if off Point Molate (on the other side of the Chevron refineries in Richmond). The long road hugs the shoreline as you make you way past old Government buildings that have long been abandoned... or are they? There are some very curious white pickup trucks that follow your progress, chatting on walky talkies letting other white pickup know where you, the intruder, is at every moment.
Eventually you are at parking lot of the Point San Pablo Harbor, which is on its own a little bit of Twilight Zone.

Glenn and I arrived early, since we bought a "Day Pass" to get our ride over to the Island. The Vallejo Sailing Race was scheduled to be sailed and the course take the boats right by the island. Since Glen had sailed this race around 25 times, we were making good on his personal promise to be on the island one time as they sail by.

We waited for the launch to arrive, looking over a harbor that had a collection of "interesting" boats, many abandoned. There are also a group of house boats.
Eventually another three couples came by each of them were using Day Passes as well but not staying on the island. The launch can take 6 people or so. We headed off first while this Harbor dog barked at us on our way off.


The weather was simply spectacular. We landed, climbed the ladder to the island then the ramp to the top.... where we settled in to enjoy this beautiful day.


Had we not arrived the islands would be like most of the other ones on the Bay, a bird sanctuary.

The Island would normally we pretty wind swept. It often is cool... and blustery on the bay here. But to day, there was little if any breeze.

You and see seven counties Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Sonoma and Napa, and of course SF from this island.
The boats were gathering getting ready for their start beyond the San Rafael Richmond Bridge.

The lighthouse has been beautifully restored. It had been used by the coast guard and much of its beauty had faded and been covered up with years of piece meal repairs. Things like asphalt shingles topping the old wood siding. The volunteers who turned this into what it is today should be thanked.


The water here is naturally collected. The power is cabled over from the mainland.

The old fog signal is pretty LOUD. They now only sound it as a demonstration.
During October through April there is a much quieter automatic signal. We didn't get to hear this signal since it is May.

The machine works to make the fog signal work is a series of compressors, gas engines and several back up systems.
In the fog signal house is a sample of what an old lense woudl have looked like. This isn't the same one from the original Lighthouse but this is the same size and age of the original.

Glenn and I were on a multi media mission. He had his cellphone, small camera, and his I-pad. I had a small camera and my 35 mm Camera with 3 lenses!
We had brought a picnic and enjoyed it while we waited for the boats to arrive.
The remaining day trippers arrived.
The Vallejo Ferry

If you are planning a day trip there is a lot of time to relax, read a book or play horseshoes. It would be a mistake not to take your camera!
One of the first boats to arrive was a cat names Adrenaline.


This orange hulled boat, Bridge Runner, ended up winning the race. Glenn knew the skipper on board Urs.


We shared a little local knowledge with the day trippers, and Glenn explained some about the race that was entertaining us.
Here are some photos of the race....

We came across a couple of Geese who were guarding their two eggs.

A gull sitting on top of the fog signal....


The island was covered with poppies on this trip.
Us.....

J101 with Pat....


Wing on Wing....

Glenn with his Ipad...
Boats that went between the Island and east shore were close enough to yak at... or take a picture.

I offered to throw them a beer...


Boats on their way... Glenn and I took some more pictures as we waited for the night time guests to arrive.

This is West Brother with Mt Tam beyond.

Detail that has been recreated at the house.
The guests arrived and we ended up to be quite the group. We were all pretty well different. There were two couples, they both worked for "tech" companies. All very nice, interesting and young. There was a couple of young lawyers. He had come originally from Alaska and worked on boats for a long time with his family. There was a Pediatrician and a Geo tech Engineer around our age. Everyone lived in the Bay area now.

This was a full moon night. That added to the temperate weather made our evening spectacular.

The Inn keepers Peter and Deana were on their 18th month as the keepers. They told us the average stay is 24 months. She is a phenomenal cook. He is a great host. She will be moving on to Cater in Marin and he will be teaching at Marin Catholic HS in Kentfield. He used to teach at Tam HS in 2002, and he is going back to teaching Physics and Math.
After a good nights sleep we headed back. I had bought 2 day passes to auction off at Pinktini and Popcorn, because this is one trip everyone should do. Thanks Katie.

If you'd like to bid on this wonderful adventure, please click on the link...

You could decide to stay overnight too (not included)