SAN FRANCISCO — In the open ocean, 26 miles west of the Golden Gate, the old lightkeeper's residence on the Farallones is getting much-needed attention from the Coast Guard.
The 110-year-old structure, still used occasionally by Coast Guardsmen who go to the lonely rocks to service the automated light, is being restored and rehabilitated with the help of Marine helicopters that have airlifted tools and materials for the job.
A second residence stands on the Farallones, occupied by the only humans allowed on the islands, biologists and volunteers of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. The other inhabitants of the islands are millions of birds and sea mammals.
The light was automated with radio control in 1972--117 years after the light was established, warning ships away from the cruel crags of the seven islands that make up the the most forbidding "suburb" anywhere, technically a part of the City and County of San Francisco.
The years have taken their toll on the house, lashed regularly by fierce storms and wrapped in swirling fogs.