Owner of stranded sailboat will receive free sailing lessons after boat removed by local crew

Novice sailor signs up for complimentary lessons at Hudson sailing school, while community volunteers free boat from ice.




2 minute read

Icebound sailboat owner Mike Olson, center, of Chisago City, is flanked by the crew that helped him get his watercraft out of the St. Croix River on Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Boomsite Marina boat launch in Stillwater. Pictured, from left, are: Rick Swanson, Brennen Swanson, Olson, Chris Hughes and Erick Rydeen. Photo courtesy of Brennen Swanson.

It was a slow-moving roller coaster, but the ups and downs of the sailboat that got stuck in the St. Croix River’s ice this fall has come to a conclusion. A group of Stillwater citizens extracted the boat from the river last week, and its owner finally loaded it on a trailer.

The offer from a western Minnesota salvage operator to remove the boat will go unneeded, after Brennen Swanson and friends broke the boat free and navigated it to a nearby marina.

Mike Olson’s monthlong sailboat saga ended at dusk on Wednesday, Nov. 27, when a crew of volunteers pulled his boat out of the chilly St. Croix River.

“I am very thankful,” said Olson, of Chisago City, just moments after his 26-foot white-and-blue fiberglass 1977 Pearson sailboat was loaded on his boat trailer at the Boomsite Marina in Stillwater. “This is like a huge relief for me. I’m so glad it’s taken care of. I’ll sleep well tonight.”

On Tuesday, Brennen Swanson and William Gavic took the day off work to tow Olson’s sailboat to the Ole Sawmill Marina in Stillwater. On Wednesday, Swanson, who lives in Stillwater, was back to help again.

“We couldn’t leave it out there,” said Swanson, co-owner of Bonsai Motors in Lakeland. “It was obvious he needed some help.”

After his St. Croix sailboat saga, Mike Olson’s Thanksgiving wish: Smooth sailing from here on out, Pioneer Press

The removal process was in its own way complicated. The crew had to put a new motor on the sailboat to move it around, plow the road into the marina, and more.

And boat owner Mike Olson will get some free sailing lessons next summer thanks to Saint Croix Sailing School in Hudson. The nonprofit school contacted Olson to make the offer, which he accepted.

“We get where he’s coming from,” school director Collin Mueller told the Star Tribune. “The river is gorgeous yet it’s hard to know how to connect and be part of a boating culture.”

The school’s website says it is “dedicated to teaching time-honored and life-long sailing and racing skills on the water, with safety, fun and adventure for all.”


St. Croix 360 offers commenting to support productive discussion. We don’t allow name-calling, personal attacks, or misinformation. This discussion may be heavily moderated and we reserve the right to block nonconstructive comments. Please: Be kind, give others the benefit of the doubt, read the article closely, check your assumptions, and stay curious. Thank you!

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world.” – Bill Bullard

One response to “Owner of stranded sailboat will receive free sailing lessons after boat removed by local crew”

  1. Tom Davis Avatar
    Tom Davis

    GREAT gesture from our local (and nonprofit at that!) sailing school!