Patos Island Lighthouse Closed for the 2020 Season

Dear Valued Patos Docents and Friends,
May 13th, 2020

I hope you and your families are all making the best of this very hard situation and you are keeping safe and enjoying your home sanctuary.

The KOPL board met yesterday and heard from BLM and State Parks about the situation on Patos. We will not be opening the Patos Lighthouse to the public this summer season for the following reasons.

Patos is currently open for day visits, and overnight boat anchoring, but no land based camping. the use of mooring buoys will be for day use only.
The lighthouse is a confined space and social distancing between visitors and docents, as well as heightened cleaning protocols will not be practical to create a safe environment.

Transporting docents with the State Park boats will not be possible due to social distancing guidelines.

Thank you for all who have submitted applications for docenting this summer, You will all be first in line for next summer. Our KOPL expenses, insurance, etc. will remain through 2020 so we want to thank you for your annual membership support, to keep us an active group for years to come.

Ok, Here’s the Upcoming 2020 Work Party Information!

Our fearless leader, Sandy Evans, has set up the Patos Island work-party schedule for the upcoming 2020 season. So here it is:

Greetings, fellow lovers of our little island in the north!

Here is the schedule for this year’s maintenance work parties: our April, Earth Day overnight, will be on April 23rd/24th.

and, the rest of days will be May 28th, June 25th, July 23rd, August 27th and September 24th.

As a reminder, I have attached our workparty information sheet. If you have any questions, please ask.


Keepers of the Patos Light Work Party Sheet:

Volunteer information

Volunteers, you need to know the following: You must be a KOPL member to go – or, pay through PayPal or, mail a check to: KOPL, PO Box 1967, Orcas Island, WA 98245

You will need a PFD (personal flotation device) to ride in the WSParks boat.

Let me know if you don’t have one and I will bring you one.

What to wear:

Appropriate for the weather, sometimes rain gear is needed


Bring gloves and your favorite hand tool

If you have a backpack first aid kit, bring it.

Please bring a lunch, snacks and plenty of water to drink. Dress appropriately for the weather and for working. If it is rainy, bring rain gear. Long pants and long sleeves will help you avoid scratches (Patos does house some pretty wicked Nootka roses and of course, blackberries) and sturdy shoes will help with footing on rocks or stepping over logs (uneven footing in general).

We like to buddy up so that should we have any problems we have help.

Some things to observe:

Safety is our number one concern. Having fun is number two, and getting the work done is number three. We (mostly) are volunteers and can take a break as needed. Likewise, let me know anything I need to know to keep you safe.

Do take breaks and hydrate often.

Be ever mindful of your work area and who and what is around you and above you. Try to keep your distance from each other, especially if swinging a tool and just as a general rule.

Please carry your tools at your side (sharp edge away from you); we do not shoulder them, ever.

If we come upon someone or someone comes up to us (work party or visitor) wanting to get by, we try to stop working and our power tools, step aside and let them pass.

There are preferred ways of doing certain things (like removing limbs) so if someone asks you to do something differently, there may be a good reason.

We will go over specific tool safety and other details when we reach the island and we will all be watching over each other anyway.

We usually meet at the lighthouse at noon for lunch (and tours, if someone has a key).

We usually finish around 2:30 – 3:30 PM (depending on tides) and are back in time for those going to Anacortes can make the 5:15 ferry, the ferry for Lopez leaves at 6:45 (spring) 6:20 (summer)

Questions? Email:

Want To Be A Lighthouse Docent? Here’s Your Chance!


There are still open days and weekends for Docents. For additional information and/or to sign up: Contact Tracy at:


Note: In order to be a docent on Patos, at least one member of the group must be up-to-date on First Aid and CPR.

From our Docent Coordinator on the Upcoming Season!!!

Contact us @:


On our way to Patos Island!

Welcome to the Lighthouse!

Dear Patos Island KOPL friends,  

Thank you to all of you already scheduled to volunteer on Patos this summer as a lighthouse keeper. I’m trusting you all  have your dates confirmed. The season starts this coming weekend, through closing date of Sept. 19th. 

Thanks also for your continued support of Keepers of the Patos Light through your annual memberships which make it possible for KOPL to continue to keep the lighthouse open to the public.

 The calendar for this summer’s docent program does have open dates, for one overnight/2 days and multi day dates.   Let us help get you  to one of the most beautiful islands  in the San Juan Islands.  Many peak season weekends of the summer are yet to be spoken for, as well as some mid week dates. 

We are also still looking a docent to be out there for the annual Patos LIghthouse birthday party, August 11th. The party is on the morning of the 11th. To overlap with the party, there are open dates for 2 docents from August 10th and a few days either side. 

If you would like to join this special  boat trip for the day to Patos Island, to celebrate the 126th birthday of the lighthouse, seats on the tour boat are still available for purchase.   It is a donation of $50 per seat, arrive at the Brandts Landing, Eastsound, Orcas Island at 7:45 for an 8 am departure.    The boats will pick you up for return at 11:30 and be back by noon.  There will be a new exhibit on Boats that served Patos, and one on the Coast Salish.  Please email to Edrie Vinson,  Edrie Vinson <>, or check on our website for additional information. 

As your summer  is approaching,  do let me know if you would be interested to learn what dates are still available on Patos. 

Lastly, we are looking for a 2 person lightweight tent as a donation to our emergency supplies on Patos. It should be in good condition with all parts, but if there are tears, or small repairs we am still interested, as these can be fixed. We will pay for getting it shipped to us, in time for this summer. 

Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend,
Tracey Cottingham
Patos Docent Coordinator for KOPL

Schooner Zodiac Special!

Schooner Zodiac Special!

Would you like a short vacation, but close to home? And would you like to visit the lighthouses of the San Juans? Well, why not do it on a sailing vessel? Check out this special offer!

Edrie Vinson, President of the Keepers of the Patos Light

Our friends at the Schooner Zodiac has offered to give any U.S. Lighthouse Society member a 10% discount on their upcoming lighthouse tour May 16-19, 2019.

Come explore the historic light stations of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Peninsula of Washington State aboard a historic 1920’s schooner. This 4-day, 3-night cruise features shore visits with local lighthouse aficionados and historians with knowledge of the preservation and restoration efforts to protect these beautiful landmarks. As with all Schooner Zodiac Cruises, passengers are given the opportunity to learn navigation, sailing stations and steer the ship. Each evening the Zodiac will be anchored in a secluded inlet and the ship’s kayaks and dinghy are available to passengers. With days chock full of adventure and relaxing evenings tucked away in tranquil coves this tour is the quintessential Pacific Northwest experience.

$725 per person for Standard Berths
$750 per person for Double Occupancy Staterooms
USLHS Members are eligible for a 10% discount on this cruise!

Cruise Price Includes:

4-days, 3-nights of sailing, hiking, and kayaking the San Juan Islands and Olympic Peninsula.
All meals prepared fresh in the galley by our professional chef
Sail Training and Basic Navigation Instruction
Wildlife viewing opportunities including seals, sea lions, porpoise, bald eagles and whales
Visits to up to seven historic light stations including Lime Kiln, Burrows Island, Turn Point and more!

For more information on this cruise please visit their website:
WWW.SCHOONERZODIAC.COM or call (206) 719-7622

United States Lighthouse Society
9005 Point No Point Road NE
Hansville, WA 98340
Phone: (415) 362-7255 Fax: (415) 362-7464


First Look! Patos Island/KOPL Work Parties for 2020!

Let’s wake-up, clean up and primp up the Island on May 21, 2020. Join us for our world-famous spring camp-out and clean-up.

In 2020, we plan, as usual, to have a Patos Island Work Party every month from May to September….dates: TBA

In September, we will clean up, pack up and close down on September 24th.

Thanks to Sandy for all that she does for herding the clean-up cats on Patos Island!!! To sign up for a work party and/or more information, please email Sandy directly at her email above.

On our way to Patos Island!

More On the Orcas Museum Exhibit @ Rosario

From our President, Edrie Vinson:

The Orcas Island Historical Museum voted to have their Christmas display at Rosario on the Patos Lighthouse. They will use the photos I borrowed from many of you for the Washington Rural Heritage project. They are asking us if we have lighthouse ornaments to use on the tree as well. Bill, I will loan them the items you gave me this spring, and they will let us put out our brochures so we may get some new members as a result of the publicity.

Each year the nonprofits get a space and put up their tree. Viewers can vote on their favorites, each “vote” costing $1. One year our co-treasurer, Maggie Vinson, was responsible for putting up the tree, and another year, Terri Vinson, our secretary had the exhibit on Orcas Voices, the oral history project she directed. Carol Kulminski is in charge of this year’s exhibit for the museum. If you have anything to offer, let me know.

If you get to Rosario this holiday season, vote for Patos! I will do my best to get photos for you of the Patos Christmas tree!

Photo from 1950’s – with quarters for US Coast Guard attendants

Patos Lighthouse Exhibit at the Orcas Island Historical Museum

Patos Island Lighthouse exhibit opens at historical museum

  • Mon Oct 15th, 2018 1:30am

If you didn’t get a chance to visit the Patos Island Lighthouse exhibit on Patos Island, you will now get a chance to view it on Orcas Island. The lighthouse has a rich history from its inception in 1893, its automation in 1974, and then the rehabilitation of the lighthouse by the Bureau of Land Management in 2008.

Curated by and in partnership with Keepers of Patos Light, this exhibit will be on display at the Orcas Island Historical Museum opening Oct. 17 and available until March 30 (except when the museum is closed in January). There are numerous photos and memorabilia from the families that lived on the island like Helene Glidden who shares her experiences growing up on Patos Island from 1905 to 1911 in her memoir entitled The Light on the Island.

The exhibit has been expanded to include items in the Museum’s collection that have never been displayed before such as an original Coast Guard uniform, a crazy quilt, and the Patos Island Visitor’s Register, an invaluable primary source for history buffs.

The Orcas Island Historical Museum is open Wednesdays-Saturdays, 12–3 p.m. Admission is by donation.


Patos Lighthouse Closed for the Winter

Our little lighthouse is now closed for the winter. The lighthouse will reopen with a staff of Docent Volunteers sometime in May of 2019. The first work party will go out in April of 2019. For information on either volunteering as a Docent and/or Work Parties, please email:


A big thanks goes out to the crew at Washington State Parks for providing for our transportation needs for the spring/summer/fall of 2018. In addition, thank to our volunteer coordinators and KOPL Board, and interested members.  We can only accomplish what we do with everyone’s help.

Patos Island Lighthouse Photos and Documents Digitized

Patos Island Lighthouse photos and documents digitized

  • Sun Sep 16th, 2018 1:30am
  • Life
Harry D Mahler, 1st keeper of Patos Fog Signal Station, Patos Island, Washington 1893.Harry D Mahler, 1st keeper of Patos Fog Signal Station, Patos Island, Washington 1893.

by Nita Couchman

Orcas Island Library

Orcas Island Library received a 2017 grant of $5,800 from the Washington State Library with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to digitize some of the photographs and documents of the Patos Island Lighthouse and the people and their families who served the Light.

The Library partnered with the Orcas Island Historical Museum to select photographs and papers from the Museum’s collection, digitize them, and post them to the Washington Rural Heritage website (

Patos Island is an uninhabited government-owned property located three miles north of Orcas Island. Early in its history, it was reserved by the government as a location for an aid to navigation.

The Patos Island Fog Signal Station was established in 1893, with the tower and light added in 1908. From 1893 to 1939, the lighthouse was manned by the Lighthouse Establishment. In 1939, the Lighthouse Service merged with the Coast Guard, and the chief’s house was built, a 2-1/2 story wood frame building which was home to the keeper and assistants. In 1958 the Coast Guard tore down the original keeper’s house and constructed a triplex for housing. By 1974, the light was automated and the buildings were abandoned.

In 2005, the Bureau of Land Management gained responsibility for the island, and all structures were removed except the original fog signal building with the 1908 tower. The original building was restored in 2008.

Today, Patos Island is a San Juan National Historic Site and is also a State Park. The island is open to boaters and has campsites, pit toilets and a hiking trail. Keepers of the Patos Light, a non-profit friends group, formed in 2007, with the goal of preserving and honoring both the history and the unspoiled environment of the island. Keepers assist the BLM and State Parks by cleaning campgrounds, grooming trails, and opening the lighthouse to visitors in the summer.

The fog signal building and tower are closed to the public except when docents are present on the island to conduct tours. Today the light flashes white once every six seconds with two red sectors covering dangerous shoals.

To get a feel for what it was like for a lighthouse keeper’s family, look at Helene Durgan Glidden’s book, The Light on the Island, a snapshot of her childhood years spent on Patos Island from 1905 to 1911 with her family. The book was first published in 1951, and was re-issued in 2018 with a new chapter that was originally omitted.

To learn more about the history of the Patos Light, visit the Keepers of the Patos Light website at An exhibit of photos and documents from the Patos Island Lighthouse will be on display from October 15th through the end of March at the Orcas Island Historical Museum. The exhibit was developed by Keepers of the Patos Light with a grant from the Lighthouse Environmental Program, the license plate folks.

To view digitized photos, pages from the Visitor’s Register, and the Keeper’s Logbooks from 1893-1933, visit the Washington Rural Heritage website at and select the Patos Island Lighthouse Collection. The link can also be accessed at