The 20-foot pontoon boat was sinking and not only was it sinking it rolled over in the process.
And then it went to the bottom.
It was work day at the boathouse and a large crew of enthusiastic boat lovers – kayak and canoe lovers of boats – had gathered for the first time ever at this location to realize a dream.
Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team (GHCKRT) – the five-time National USA Canoe/Kayak Champions coached by Alan Anderson (brother of this article’s author) – is developing a new collegiate and high performance training center located on American Lake. The center will allow college-aged athletes to continue training for International and Olympic competitions while also attending college or technical school. The American Lake Center will serve GHCKRT athletes (after high school) as well as athletes from the Pacific Northwest and around the country.
Loose and rotting boards on the dock were being replaced; the ramp railing rebuilt; brambles and ivy and discarded lumber and all manner of what-not hauled up the hill to the huge dumpster.
And all of that after their first ever paddle along the shore of their new second home, including the exploration of “Deadly Cove.”
Deadly enough it seemed to us was the task to attend to the derelict vessel at which we swore and which answered back:
‘Blub, blub, blub’ as air bubbles escaped from heretofore unseen holes.
Like the sailors aboard the HMS Resolute which wooden sailing ship had become inextricably encased in ice in 1845, we wanted, like them, to walk away. Abandon ship.
There were, however, two immediate problems. First, our version of the Titanic had sunk in but eight feet of water leaving its remains rather visible to even a casual observer.
Second, the coach wanted to use it as a platform to accompany the crew while filming the athletes from its sizeable stable deck.
That sizeable stable deck however was down there somewhere.
But, speaking of Resolute, we were.
Cables were strung; ropes took on the appearance of a spider web; another floating platform was launched over the sunken vessel; hooks, with tethers attached, reached down into the dark water in the hope of lassoing something substantial enough to begin raising the thing to the surface.
It all worked. To a point. Ever so very slowly the sunken vessel rose but came up right under the rescue platform. We were in the way. Eight hours into it, so close to victory, mere inches of water separating the surface from the sunken, and the thought of what might have been was prevented by the very boat on which we stood.
Not to lose what little now it appeared we had gained and darkness coming quickly, more ropes were tied on, cables tightened, and the two boats – one floating, one not – were lashed together and, with that discouraging development, we left for home.
Left for home is what the HMS Resolute was after being found by American whaler James Buddington, the multiple-masted ship having drifted 1,200 miles from where it had been abandoned. Restored and refitted, the Resolute was sailed to England, toured by Queen Victoria, and was accepted by Her Majesty.
When the HMS Resolute was decommissioned, from the vessel’s timbers “the most famous desk in the world” – the Resolute – was constructed, upon which the elbows of all but three presidents (Lyndon B. Johnson was too large and didn’t fit) of the United States have rested since it was presented to our country, where documents have been signed, and maybe even pictures colored by John F. Kennedy Jnr. with his president-and-dad looking over his shoulder.
Perhaps one day an athlete who’s come through the ranks at Gig Harbor, and who attends college locally while receiving elite training on American Lake, will stand on a platform of another kind than the pontoon platform from which they were once coached – an Olympic platform.
In the meantime, here’s a submission of a name to commission that once-sunken vessel; the vessel that now sits – sits! – on the dock awaiting new decking and railing; the vessel that serves as a testimony to resolve: The Resolute.
It’s something Coach Alan preaches to his tired, bone-weary, wet paddlers as they approach the half-way point of their long-distance winter-in-Gig-Harbor workouts:
“Whaddya gonna do? Go back? It’s the same distance back as it is going forward.”
And then he’d say,
“Might as well finish.”