Leaving city behind for a bright light, water view
LIGHT FARE: Tim Swigor, of Marblehead, Mass., has made Rose Island lighthouse-keeping a family vacation tradition.
COURTESY CHAD SWIGOR
By Rhonda J. Miller PBN Staff Writer
The mystique of being a lighthouse keeper settled into Nick Korstad’s dreams when he was 7 years old and visited a lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The vision grew clearer a few years later when his family moved from Portland to the town of Sequim, Wash., and he went on a tour of a nearby lighthouse. His first visit turned into hundreds of lighthouse visits.
When the Borden Flats Lighthouse, a mere 900 feet offshore in Fall River, at the mouth of the Taunton River, was put up for sale by the U.S. General Services Administration, he jumped at the chance to own it. Korstad paid $56,000 in a 2010 public auction for the cast-iron, caisson-style lighthouse built in 1881.
With his new piece of water-based real estate, he did what any passionate lighthouse lover would do – he built on his 12 years of working in hospitality with Marriott, developed a plan to restore the lighthouse to make it available as lodging for overnight visitors, and took a leap.
“I quit my job, sold everything and came here to run the lighthouse,” said Korstad. “I rented a condo onshore. For me it works perfectly. I like working for myself and this is what I wanted to do. It provides enough money for me to live on and keep up the lighthouse. They’re very expensive to maintain.”
It took him three years to get the Borden Flats Lighthouse in shape for overnight guests. He spends the night there himself about four days a month to make sure everything is working. He designed and maintains his own website and doesn’t need to advertise.
“Lighthouses attract a lot of people,” he said.
Tours are available by appointment from May through October for $20 a person.
Summer 2013 was the trial season for overnight visitors, with the cost ranging from $299 to $375 per night, with weekends and holidays at the higher end.
The bedroom is on the fifth level, closest to the light. There are levels for relaxing or watching TV. One level is a kitchen.