As the guide and the captain of a tour boat frequenting the waters of Deception Pass, Dawn Koppel Glavick and Brett Ginther have found a number of unusual objects in the Salish Sea over the years.
Their latest find is bigger than most, a 40-foot cedar canoe built by a member of the Lummi Nation. With the use of binoculars, Koppel Glavick and Ginther of Deception Pass Tours spotted the canoe adrift near Rosario Strait, north of Lawson Reef, and hastened to rescue it during an hourly wildlife tour the afternoon of May 21.
Just the stern and bow of the boat were visible above the water; at first, Ginther wondered if they might be seeing a kayaker in distress. As they got closer, they noticed the body of the vessel was submerged.
Not wanting the canoe to sustain any further damage, or cause harm to other vessels, the tour guide and the boat captain decided to tow it to safety.
“With Captain Brett’s maneuvering and me on my belly, I was able to get a loop through an eyehole,” Koppel Glavick said.
With no name or phone number attached to it, they wondered about the origin of the canoe. Later, they learned from the Coast Guard that the boat had gotten loose around Washington Park in Anacortes, where it was headed to the Gathering of the Eagles on Lopez Island. Gathering of the Eagles is a multiple-day canoe journey undertaken by indigenous families in the Lhaq’temish homelands of Lopez, San Juan, Orcas and Lummi islands.
Koppel Glavick and Ginther also learned that the canoe they found was made by Lummi master builder Dean Washington.
Koppel Glavick recounted the story of the rescue on Facebook. Since then, she said, she’s received messages of gratitude from members of the Lummi Nation, as well as members of other coastal tribes.
“She was so new, she didn’t even have a name yet,” Koppel Glavick said of the canoe, which lost all eight of its paddles.
“We’ve rescued our fair share of kayakers in distress, other boaters that need help,” she said. “It’s just part of what we do, especially here in Deception Pass.”
Ginther said they keep a running tally at Deception Pass Tours of all the debris pulled from the water, which has included balloons, buckets and messages in bottles. One time they found a Wilson the volleyball look-alike.