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Whidbey Island
and The Legend of Deception Pass

Chapter Seventeen

Captain Coupe was First to Sail a Full-Masted Schooner Through the Pass

Captain Thomas Coupe, after whom Coupeville was named, was born in Nova Scotia in 1818. Having heard many tales of the sea at his father's inn, he went off to sea with the merchant marines at the age of 12! Leaving a home of ten brothers and sisters, Coupe became an experienced seaman. His travels took him back and forth to England and Maine, where he married Mary White when Coupe was 22.

During the Gold Rush days Coupe headed for California but instead of hunting the elusive gold, he transported logs from Oregon Territory to San Francisco. When he acquired part ownership of the bark Success, he began hauling logs from Camano Island, taking his ship through Deception Pass, the only man known to have taken a full-rigged ship through this narrow passageway between two Islands! When he established his home in 1852 in Penn Cove he continued to run freight to Victoria, B.C.

Captain Coupe is remembered too for a story told how he sailed his ship trough Deception Pass in a high wind storm. When one of the sails became loose, he went aloft to fix it. The wind was so strong that it tore one leg off his canvas pants!

An interesting story was told to Dorothy Neil by Carl Engle, son of one of Coupeville's earliest settlers, William Engle. The elder Engle came to Whidbey on the same ship that brought the first settlers to Seattle, and on the way to Deception Pass the boat stopped to await the turning of the tide. Engle said on every side of the outgoing expanse of waters, salmon were leaping into the air, also awaiting the turning of the tide. He said the air was full of "flying" fish!

Today fishermen in small boats fish just outside the Pass at a favorite fishing spot they call "the hole."

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