Our island

No traffic. No tourists. How one couple found romance ― and a whole new life ― on a remote island in Puget Sound

Our island

Mark and Gail Dupar relax by a beach fire with daughter Saide (right) and neighbor Heidi Bateman.

John Granen

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A fire glowed on the beach and a full moon rose high above the nearby treetops on the night Gail Dupar met her future husband, Mark. "I was having a cookout with a girlfriend," recalls Gail. "It was especially quiet on the island then.
We were drinking wine and feeling silly, and we began to howl at the moon. Someone howled back from the trees. Then this man came down the beach and introduced himself to us. It was Mark. I thought, Wow! On Decatur, of all places."

Tiny Decatur Island ― a 3 1/2-square-mile speck of forested and rolling agricultural land off the ferry routes in Washington's San Juans ― is an unlikely location for sudden romance.

But that's where Gail, a freelance artist in Seattle, had come to see if she could live simply at the farm that had been in her family for more than 100 years. And where Mark, who worked in the hotel business, had come to help his dad build a cabin. And where, after that beachside introduction, the two urban refugees fell in love and stayed to build a future together.


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