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East Brother Light Station Back on the Grid

For East Brother Light Station, April 1, 2021, was no joke. That was the day when the island’s decades-old power cable broke, casting the island and its lighthouse into darkness. This week we spoke with Light Station Keeper Desiree Heveroh, who has been tending the light for 13 months and is also a long-term board member of the nonprofit East Brother Light Station, Inc. that manages the island.

“It was hard!” Desiree said of the two months the island was without power.

The submarine cable that connects the island to the mainland has since been repaired, albeit temporarily. The existing cable was pulled up from the Bay enough to locate and cut out the damaged portion and splice the undamaged portions together. Long-term, it needs to be completely replaced.

“It’s not a decades-long repair,” Desiree said, “but we hope it will give us time to continue to fundraise.”

East Brother Light Station
The current cable was installed by the US Coast Guard in 1991 after the previous cable, installed in the 1960s, was irreversibly damaged by a lightning strike.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

“We need $150,000 just for the cable, and $800,000 or more for laying.”

Apart from the power issue, East Brother Light Station faced the closure of its accommodations early last year due to COVID, and consequently has not had innkeepers and guests for almost a year and a half. Now the island is being prepared for the return of visitors. “We’ve been getting the island in great shape,” Desiree said. “Our first night is September 2nd,”

You may have seen an ad recently, calling for an innkeeper couple to manage the island’s Victorian Lighthouse Dinner B&B. Applications for the position are now closed, and we asked Desiree if she was willing to disclose who the successful applicants are.

“We’re bringing back former innkeepers Bryan and Stephanie Wesolek to get the station back up and running,” she replied. “If we can open up again and see guests, we can use some of the funds we raise [for repairs].”

Sailing past East Brother Light Station
The only way to reach the island is by boat. But don’t expect to tie up at the dock. Guests are ferried to and from the island by the innkeepers.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

Eight days after the power cable broke, Desiree created a GoFundMe page to help the nonprofit raise money for long-term repairs. To date, the appeal has raised $84,560 of its goal of $150,000 — just over half the cost of the new cable. The island also needs repairs to its pier and gangway, which were built in 1962 and are suffering the ravages of some 60 years of saltwater exposure.

If you would like to support this historic and unique Bay Area icon, consider donating to the “Help Save East Brother Light Station” fundraiser, and consider booking a stay on the island. We hear it’s a great place to unwind and enjoy exclusive Bay views.

5 Comments

  1. Luther Abel 2 months ago

    So glad to hear that East Brother will be back up and running. Have visited it and it is fabulous – food, ambiance, history, and its nautical connection! Hopefully my wife and I will return although not until she’s dealt with some medical challenges. Best of luck to this wonderful treasure!

  2. Dennis Bailey 2 months ago

    Possible to sloar/wind power/battery…off the grid?

  3. Joseph DiMatteo, P.E. 2 months ago

    What a shame. $950,000 for relaying a new underwater power cable to stay on grid? Viable and sustainable solar+battery+generator solutions were proposed that would cost far, far, far less money both up front and operationally. Hard to understand the thinking of their board.

  4. Jan Passion 2 months ago

    I totally agree with Joseph. I have a sailor engineer friend who works for Tesla who offered to liaise with them to consult & build an off grid system. He said he never got a reply?!?! I am saddened and surprised that the focus seems to be on replacing the cable rather than going off the grid and thinking outside the box. The future is here. Let’s do this smarter.

    • Joseph DiMatteo 2 months ago

      I did work with key members of their board to vett multiple micro-grid solutions proposed. A couple of the proposals were very good and both technically and financially viable. The only good reason for them to not go with the microgrid is if it would not be approved by the USCG who still owns the island and another couple of agency’s. That did not appear to be a stumbling block a few months ago. Good people all and a worthy project but it seems to be going down the wrong path.

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Inland Cruising Rally
The next official event on the Delta Doo Dah itinerary will be a BBQ and activities at Delta Bay Marina in Isleton on Saturday, August 14.