Sailboat stranded in ice near Stillwater

Aspiring sailor leaves boat in the water a little too long.

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In the Antarctic winter of 1915, the British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sailed his ship Endurance into the Wendell Sea, where it was trapped by sea ice. Months later, Shackleton and his 28-man crew and dogs abandoned the sturdy ship and watched as it was crushed and sunk.

Thus began an epic journey of survival by sea and ice, in which the entire crew was ultimately rescued after heroic efforts. It was documented in the popular book Endurance, by Alfred Lansing, published in 1959.

A couple weeks ago, a man named Mark Olson of Chisago City moored his new sailboat a few yards off-shore on the St. Croix River near the Boom Site boat landing. It quickly became surrounded by ice and locked into the river, before Olson could remove it. He didn’t have to drag his supplies across miles of ice, or traverse the roughest waters in the world in what was essentially a lifeboat, but perseverance was required.

According to Mary Divine in the Pioneer Press, Olson bought the boat without a trailer, and without boating experience.

“The plan was that we were going to learn how to sail it a little bit and then get it off the river and store it someplace else,” Olson, 45, of Chisago City, told Divine. “But things escalated, and it never ended up happening, and now I have a boat that is out on the water frozen.”

This year’s early ice season couldn’t have helped.

In the article published yesterday, Olson said he was going to attempt to remove it again this morning, and pleaded for any help he could get. He said he had tracked down a trailer.

In a follow-up article, Divine reports that Olson surveyed the situation and attached lights to the boat yesterday morning, but determined it probably isn’t possible to get it out at this point.

Photo by Kate Seitz, St. Croix 360

The Washington County Sheriff was notified about the boat several times, including an offer of using their airboat.

“But it’s sitting in about 3 inches of ice right now. I don’t know if our airboat is going to break through that,” said Sgt. Kyle Schenck.

Water levels have also dropped since the boat was anchored, and its keel appeared to be resting on the bottom of the river.

Olson will be forced to pay for salvage if the boat sinks, plus fines.

Olson said to Myers: “I really get myself into situations sometimes, I know.” To that, Jeff Anderson, proprietor of Stillwater outdoors store 45 Degrees said, “Don’t we all!”

Endurance, breaking up in Antarctic waters in 1915. (Royal Geographical Society)

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2 responses to “Sailboat stranded in ice near Stillwater”

  1. John Avatar
    John

    Every kid understands water freezing. This chap was obviously a kid at some point. HELLO…..

  2. Jon Mulack Avatar
    Jon Mulack

    Bought a boat without a trailer, then left it in the river to learn about sailing? Did cold weather maybe give him a clue as what was about to happen during Mn. fall weather? He may want to think about a new hobby before we are dragging him and the boat out of the river.

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Sailboat stranded in ice near Stillwater