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Lesson learned at Deception Pass

`Vessel Assist NW tug “Able” tows Tommy and Tony Lazios’ 26-foot pleasure boat back through the strong current under  Deception Pass bridge Saturday after the Lazios’ craft had engine failure and nearly grounded. - Marcie Miller
`Vessel Assist NW tug “Able” tows Tommy and Tony Lazios’ 26-foot pleasure boat back through the strong current under Deception Pass bridge Saturday after the Lazios’ craft had engine failure and nearly grounded.
— image credit: Marcie Miller

Tommy Lazio has boated through San Francisco Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge many times, no problem. His first time through Deception Pass Saturday ended with a near-grounding and tow back to Deception Pass Marina on Cornet Bay.

“This pass is cranky,” he said when he reached dry land.

Lazio and his son Tony, recent transplants from Colorado, had been tinkering with their 26-foot Sabrecraft since purchasing it in August. They had motored around Cornet Bay, and decided it was time to test it in open water.

“The engine quit right under the bridge,” Tommy Lazio said.

The men fired up the auxiliary engine, but it would only idle — not nearly the power they needed to fight the current that swirls through the rock-walled pass.

“There must have been a seven-knot tide,” Lazio said.

Tony Lazio used his cell phone to call Vessel Assist NW in Cornet Bay and dropped anchor, but in seconds they were close to shore, and feared they were in danger of grounding on the rocks of Deception Island.

“The current just sucked us around,” Tommy Lazio said.

The tidal pull in the narrow pass was so strong it broke the anchor chain.

“It’s still out there somewhere,” Tony Lazio said.

Within minutes Captain John Aydelott of Vessel Assist NW arrived with his tug “Able” and threw the men a towline.

“Vessel Assist had to really work to pull us through the pass,” Tommy Lazio said. “We were dangling like a fish.”

Once the two boats were in the calm of Cornet Bay Lazio was able to idle to the dock. Adventure over, all hands safe.

Aydelott said his company responds to about 150 distress calls a year in the waters around Whidbey Island. Most are just “attaboys,” non-emergencies, but two or three times a year the calls are lifesaving.

The Lazios think their engine probably had water in the fuel system, and will be working to fix that before heading out again.

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