Brooks Island


Diablo Magazine, June 2002

Wanted: someone to live on a windswept island in San Francisco Bay. Must love nature and isolation. Need strong survivor skills and sturdy boat.

Roy Tedder and Heather Hailey

Roy Tedder and Heather Hailey

Roy Tedder and Heather Hailey are the “survivors” who accepted this job – as caretakers of Brooks Island. Sixty five acres of rock and sand – home to the East Bay Regional Park District’s only wildlife sanctuary.

Soul-mates, Roy and Heather live their lives by the tides – which they check daily before heading ashore to do chores. Groceries and laundry, propane and more get transported by motorboat from the Richmond Marina to their modest island home. A sudden storm and the couple is stranded, sometimes for days as heavy winds whip the choppy waters.

Brooks Island is rich with history. Legend has it gold is buried here. Cellblocks at Alcatraz Prison were built with this island’s rock and Bing Crosby and Trader Vic once owned a gun club here.

You need a permit to visit Brooks and the park district offers beginning kayak trips to the island. Sign up, and you may meet the couple’s 50 year old oyster named “Oscar”. The stories he could tell – if only he’d “come out of his shell”.

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