Coast Guard, locals perform mass rescue in Deception Pass, WA

Coast Guard Cutter Adelie [WPB 87333] and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Bellingham transit near Deception Pass, Washington, Dec. 11, 2021. Several Coast Guard units were in the area to assist when several kayakers capsized during a scheduled race. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard Cutter Adelie and a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Bellingham transit near Deception Pass, Washington, Dec. 11, 2021.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

SEATTLE – The Coast Guard and multiple local responders rescued more than 20 people from the water in Deception Pass Saturday morning during a scheduled marine event organized by a local paddlecraft organization.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. Saturday, multiple reports of distress alerted 13th Coast Guard District watchstanders to several kayak and paddlecraft users capsized during The Deception Pass Challenge, a paddling and rowing race through Deception Pass.

It was reported that 75 people were participating in the race, and it was estimated that 15-20 people were in the water due to high winds during the event. Additionally, it was reported that many participants were in need of assistance getting back to shore.

The Coast Guard Cutter Adelie and crew, an 87-foot patrol boat, was already on scene and other nearby Coast Guard rescue units responded by air and sea, including Coast Guard Station Bellingham, the crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Lion, also an 87-foot patrol boat, and a helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles.

Additionally, a Skagit County Marine unit and two North Whidbey Fire Marine Rescue units also responded to the distress.

Once on scene, the Adelie crew recovered five people from the water and assisted 20 kayakers to safety. The Sea Lion crew recovered two people from the water and assisted 10 kayakers to safety.

On-scene rescue units continued to search for people in distress until the event’s coordinator accounted for all participants.

“This incident highlights the outstanding interagency teamwork we have here in the greater Puget Sound’s search and rescue system,” said Capt. Patrick Hilbert, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “It also reinforces the importance of wearing a life jacket and constantly assessing the increased risks posed by the weather and water conditions that are always changing here in the Pacific Northwest.”

Always check and monitor the marine weather forecast before any trip out on the water. High winds and increasing seas are good reasons to postpone being out on the water.

No injuries or casualties were reported from the event.

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