Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2019  
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  Lighthouse Innkeeper Search Goes Viral
January 18, 2019

On the last day of December, 2018, I was having a beer with Brandon Mercer of SFGate (BRANDON M. MERCER, SFGATE | • SFGATE provides a 360-degree view of the San Francisco Bay Area, wildly reflective of right now. Provocative, energetic and unapologetic, the Gate is in constant conversation with the world's most eclectic region.)

I mentioned that our innkeepers at East Brother will have completed a two-year stint in May of 2018 and were planning on moving on to their next adventure. He offered to help publicize the recruitment of new innkeepers, so I sent him a hastily-assembled press release (Recruitment for Innkeepers at East Brother Lighthouse Opens Up in 2019, January 2, 2018).

Brandon also offered to share the story with SFGate partners Good Day Sacramento, KCBS, KQED, KTVU and KPIX. 

Th story came out on January 2 (

Lighthouse Innkeeper Search Goes Viral

Within a few days. It had gone viral worldwide. It was published in newspapers and featured on TV globally. I even did a Skype interview with a TV station in Bulgaria. I have gotten thousands of emails from people in dozens of countries worldwide inquiring about the position. Almost all are unqualified because they do not have a US Coast Guard commercial boat captain’s license and they are not US citizens or do not have a green card or work permit. Nevertheless, I have responded to all of them, thanking them for their interest and providing additional and more detailed information.

Typical inquiries include:

  • Good morning! I have no questions, I just want to tell you that the news about your vacancy has reached a small town in the Urals, Russia. I wish I was the captain of the coast guard. :) Being a lighthouse keeper is a dream.
  • We are a couple that loves the sea. We send you this email because living in a lighthouse is anyone's dream. In fact, our dream is to visit all the lighthouses of the world. We currently live in Ireland, and every time we have time we escape to the Hook Lighthouse. Is beautiful. Cristina is from Lloret de Mar and we met here in Ireland. When we go to his village we visit all the lighthouses around. My name is Jesus and I am from a small town in Castilla la Mancha, Tembleque. There are no lighthouses, but we have windmills. They are known for the route of Don Quijote de la Mancha. We would be very interested in this offer. We would make our dream come true. Cristina since she saw the movie (Scusa ma ti chiamo amore) wants to live in a lighthouse, and you can make it come true.

The good news is that we now have over 40 qualified applicants. Two years ago when we did our last recruitment, we had only six qualified applicants. We will close out applications on February 1.

And as a side benefit, bookings at East Brother have gone through the roof as people read the article and want to stay there.