Thriller wood boat discovered off Wisconsin shoreline after 27 years

BAYFIELD, WI (KBJR) – A Wisconsin couple made an unusual discovery off the shores of the Apostle Islands earlier this week.

They uncovered a story that goes back nearly three decades and 50 miles.

Photo credit: Lynn BeBeau

Lynn and Mike BeBeau drove from their home in Ashland to the shores near the Apostle Islands and visited a very secluded beach to examine the fall colors.

There they came across an unusual object.

“I noticed a small piece of colored wood buried in the sand about 20 feet from the water,” said Mike.

They discovered a small wooden boat that hurt red, white and blue and was kept in the sand.

“I thought it might have been a net buoy or a net float that came off a commercial fishing boat or something, but when I dug it up and then kind of washed it up, I was really surprised and thought that was really cool,” said Mike.

On the bottom of the boat is the message: “I am going to the sea. Please put me back in the water.” It also had an address to a classroom across the coast in Duluth.

“Of course we didn’t know how long it was out there and we certainly didn’t think it was going to be 27 years,” said Lynn.

That address was for Bonnie Fritch and Brenda Schell’s second grade class at Lakewood Elementary in 1993.

“Brenda had a friend who made the boats and we had our class paint them. At the end of the year we took a trip around Duluth to go to Enger Tower and all that and went to Brighton Beach to let go of the boats with our class, “said Fritch.

They learned about currents and the connection between the Great Lakes and the ocean.

Fritch says this isn’t the first time the boat has been found.

“It was somewhere on the north coast, like Beaver Bay, and the people who found it repainted it to preserve it and put it back in the water,” Fritch said.

The BeBeaus are happy to be the second people to release it back into the lake so it can continue its journey to the sea and tell them a story.

“We just want to find remote places and see what we discover, and this was by far the coolest find by far,” said Lynn.

The BeBeaus see it as a reminder to take the less traveled street. You never know what you will find.

Fritch says the book that inspired the boat was named by Holling C. Holling Paddle-to-the-Sea.

Lynn BeBeau says she plans to buy the book and read it to her grandchildren so that they will never forget her discovery.

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