A Flash From the Past

Out of the blue last week, we received a postcard from a “Dave Malland” asking us to call him. Who was this guy? Well, Carla and I soon found out when we sat down to call him on the speaker phone.

Dave, who lives in Port Angeles, Washington, is a retired Coast Guard Master Chief,  who served 5 years active duty and 34 years as a reservist. In 1985 he and a crew of men were sent to do some work on Patos Island, on the 180ft Buoy Tender, “The Fir“. The crew spent two weeks (from August 12 to August 23rd) working on several projects on the island.

Projects included: electrical work in the lighthouse, bulldozing foundations and covering them with soil, ( which/where, he did not remember) and removing an empty diesel tank from the east lighthouse wall and sinking it in the bay. He mentioned that environmental regulations were not what they are today!

He mentioned that the bulldozer that they used was helicoptered in from Bellingham.

One funny story was that one of the crew was also a house restorer and he decided to keep an” antique” porcelain toilet which was found in one of the buildings. Unfortunately, he dropped it and it cracked. They then dumped it somewhere in Active Cove. Apparently Dave has a friend who is a scuba diver who later showed him a photograph of himself sitting on an underwater toilet and Dave told him that he knew exactly where it was!

Dave then started to tell us about his years of CG active duty. In 1957 he was stationed at CG Base Seattle and apparently they “didn’t know what to do” with him, so he was sent to be a Relief Keeper at Alki Lighthouse in Seattle, then to Burrows LH(near Anacortes) and finally to Lime Kiln LH on San Juan Island. He said he had some good stories about Lime Kiln, but we decided to leave those for another conversation.

Last but not least, Dave wondered why we didn’t have any of this information on our website and we told him that we didn’t know. As far as the years between when the Coast Guard left Patos Island and when the BLM took over in the early 2000s we have little to no information about what was happening on Patos. With conversations with people like Dave Malland we are filling our knowledge gap!


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