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Couple discovers small boat placed in Lake Superior 27 years ago

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 10:17 AM CDT
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DULUTH, Minn. (KBJR) - A Minnesota couple discovered something that had been waiting years to be found while exploring a remote beach.

Over the last several weeks, people have been flocking to the shores of Lake Superior to catch a glimpse at the fall colors.

For Lynn and Mike Bebeau, that meant a short drive from their home into the shores near the Apostle Islands.

It was there at the remote beach that they stumbled upon an unusual object.

“I noticed a little colored piece of wood buried in the sand about 20 feet from the water,” Mike Bebeau said. "I thought it might be a net buoy or a net float that had broken loose from a commercial fisherman’s net or something. And I thought, this is a pretty cool thing to find on the beach.

“When I dug it out and then kind of washed it off, I was really surprised.”

Instead of a net buoy, the couple uncovered a small wooden boat, painted red, white, and blue, preserved in the sand.

On its bottom, the boat has a message: “I am traveling to the ocean. Please put me back in the water,” along with an address to a classroom across the shore in Duluth.

“We didn’t know how long it had been out there,” Lynn Bebeau said. “We certainly didn’t think it was 27 years.”

That address was to Bonnie Fritch and Brenda Shell’s second grade class at Lakewood Elementary School in 1993. They were learning about currents and the connection between the Great Lakes and the ocean.

“Brenda had a friend that made the boats and we had our class paint them,” Fritch said. “And at the end of the year we would take a field trip and we went to Brighton Beach and we let the boats go with our class.”

Fritch says that this is not the first time the boat has been found.

“I think it was somewhere up on the north shore like Beaver Bay. And the people who found it put another coating on it to help preserve it and set it back in the water,” Fritch said.

The Bebeaus are happy to be the second people to release it back into the lake, so that it can continue its journey to the ocean and leave them with a story to tell.

“We like to just find remote places and just see what we discover,” Lynn Bebeau said. “And this was by far the coolest discovery ever.”

Fritch says the idea that inspired the boat project came from a book called “Paddle to the Sea.”

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