So many people dream of being lighthouse keepers, harking back to the romance of being on a windswept island, tending the lights and performing heroic acts in between writing poetry. Well, those days are gone (actually, they never existed). But are they? If you want to serve as a lightkeeper, there still are opportunities for you. Unfortunately, these are paid even less than the lightkeepers of yore, and though the work duties may have changed, you still won’t be able to sit around listening to the waves crash on the shore while the gulls wheel overhead. So here are a couple of lightkeeper positions you may be interested in exploring for next year.
Forty Mile Point Lighthouse
No pay, hard work, bring your own living quarters, as in an RV or camper (must be self contained). This lighthouse, located in Michigan and is named for the fact it is 40 miles southeast of Old Mackinaw Point and 40 miles northwest of Thunder Bay on Lake Huron. From their website:
- Primary Responsibilities
As a lighthouse keeper, you are required to greet visitors and provide them with historical information about the museum. You will work in the gift shop, lighthouse museum and pilot house and keep the buildings neat and clean. You are asked to learn some basic historic information about the lighthouse and the pilot house (The information will be provided to you). Lighthouse keepers must be energetic, comfortable speaking with the public, in good health, able to climb stairs and work the required hours.
- Additional Responsibilities
Other responsibilities include (but are not limited to) sweeping floors, sidewalks and tower stairs, removing trash, vacuuming and dusting. Keepers are asked to keep the gift shop neat, orderly, well stocked and to price merchandise when it arrives. All participants will be trained to operate the cash register and the credit card machine located in the gift shop.
- Living Quarters
All Keepers will supply their own self-contained RVs. There are four fully equipped RV parking spaces located just south of the open pavilion. Two spaces will be occupied by the current Keepers. The remaining two spaces will be used for the incoming Keepers. Personal vehicles only will be parked at the RV site. Absolutely no tents.
- Application and Fees
The entire application must be filled out completely, signed and returned and accompanied by the following items:
- A brief summary listing any experiences you have had working with the public, either as an employee, volunteer or manager.
- Two personal letters of reference.
- A $25 non-refundable application fee per application. Make checks payable to: Forty Mile Point Lighthouse Society.
- When your application is approved, a security deposit of $150.00 will be required.
Thacher Island Lighthouse
The Thacher Island Town Committee and the Thacher Island Association are looking for volunteer lighthouse keepers to help care for the twin lights located in Rockport, Mass. But first you’ll have to try out for the job, serving a one-week apprenticeship next summer. Pairs of interns are being recruited - any two people who will get along. They’ll work alongside experienced keepers to learn the ropes. The apprenticeships are unpaid but come with lodging in one of the island’s two keeper’s houses (an immediate plus over the “bring your own digs” as above). But you will work hard.
Keepers must have the ability to function in an isolated environment, identify problems in equipment and make minor repairs, with instruction from ashore if necessary. Skills in carpentry, mechanical aptitude and landscaping are also preferred, organizers said.
Paul St. Germain, Thacher Island Association president, said a keeper’s role is “part Department of Public Works worker and part Chamber of Commerce employee,” with wide and varied responsibilities.
Keepers welcome guests to the island, offer tours and perform basic maintenance and landscaping. They must be able to operate a boat and tractor equipment as well as possess a basic knowledge of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Occasionally, keepers have to clean the solar panels, which are located near the base of the south tower.
These apprenticeships are being offered as help to the permanent caretakers, and also to size up the candidate for future vacancies. For more information, contact Syd Wellmore at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 617-335-1799. Resumes and rationales for interest in the position can be sent to him at 155 South St., Rockport, MA 01966.