Alright. Here we go. If you follow along you’ll remember the last time we were here at Patos Island. By ourselves. The only boat on the one mooring buoy here. We hiked around the island and never saw another boat. But then, on our way from the lighthouse back to the beach where our dinghy was, we passed two guys heading toward the lighthouse wearing Carhartts and knit caps, the guy in front carrying a handheld radio. They said “hey.” We said “hey.” We expected to see their boat when we got back to the cove, but no boat. No kayaks. No nothing. It was curious to say the least. (It’s at this point the “making up stories’ engine roars into overdrive.) We never saw them leave. No boat came to pick them up. We were the only boat here. It was super odd.
So, fast forward one month.
Today was a weird day, for sure. Federal, state, and county law enforcement were out in full force here between Sucia Island and Patos Island and the Canadian border. (This is an area that’s usually pretty uninhabited. Most of the time we’re at Patos Island, we’re the only humans for miles around). Our friend Sam was pulled over by the San Juan County Sheriff and boarded after he left our moorage at Sucia. We were pulled over shortly after leaving Sucia by the Washington Department of Fish & Game (who had zero questions for us about any fishing, hunting, or game). They looked all S.W.A.T. team…and they said nothing about why they pulled us over and copied our driver’s licenses, either. There were sheriffs, fish and game guys, and coast guard boats ALL OVER today. All. Over.
So, we moored here in Active Cove on Patos Island, and after finishing up some work, we took the dinghy ashore for a little hike out to the lighthouse.
About 3/4 of the way out to the lighthouse, a voice calls out from a dead end branch of the path, off to our left. “Hey, do you know if there’s a restroom….?” indicating back the way we’d come from. It was a bit startling, for sure, to see this guy…this guy wearing Carhartts and a ball cap (with an American flag on the front)…coming FROM the direction of the lighthouse, where no boat could beach or anchor. We’re pretty sure this was one of the same two Carhartt guys from a month ago. And obviously, he KNOWS where the restroom is on this tiny island. I said “yep, just back there a little ways.” He says “thanks” and we move on. Shortly, we pass the other Carhartt guy walking the same “away from the lighthouse” direction, only this one is now wearing a mustard-Carhartt-colored “suit” of kind of rain pants and rain jacket…and it looks like he’s packing a firearm. He fumbles with his chest zipper a bit and says hello as he passes us. We keep walking, a little weirded out at the duplicate experience. We hang out at the lighthouse a bit, noticing that there are double the solar panels they had the last time we were here. There’s also a new microwave antenna, and some surveillance cameras we don’t think were there before. Well…this makes some sense. Maybe the Carhartt guys are doing a little border surveillance or something. Of course today’s experiences are informing this guess, but what else could it be?
Here’s an older photo of the lighthouse, sans microwave antenna, surveillance cams, and half the solar:
From the lighthouse we saw another San Juan County Sheriff’s boat whizzing past the opening of Active Cove, where we are moored, and I thought “Maybe they’re coming to pick up the Carhartt guys!” We headed back toward the beach, but then we passed the two guys again! They were heading back to the lighthouse. (They SO knew where the bathroom was already. I mean, come on!)
Wildflowers along our path:
They said “hello again” and we said hello (and I tried really hard to take a photo of them, my camera hanging down at my side, but all I got was this):
So, as we said before: if you never hear from us again: two men, early 30s…maybe 40s, Carhartts, knit caps (might be packin’), not too chatty. (And they totally DO know where the restroom is!)
Oh, and here are some photos from the gorgeous sunset tonight here in Active Cove: