STILLWATER, Minn. — 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.”
The Ole Sawmill Marina’s boat launch was blocked by docks that had been taken out of the water for the winter, so Swanson contacted Brian Shelton, owner of the Boomsite Marina, and arranged for Olson to pull his boat out there.
First, though, the marina’s boat launch had to be plowed.
Swanson volunteered to do that job, too, but the trailer he normally uses to transport his snowplow equipment had been loaned out. A second trailer he owns wasn’t long enough to transport his skid-steer, he said.
Swanson went to Roettger Welding in West Lakeland Township to see if they could help, and owner Don Harvey did the modification work for free, he said.
“He’d seen me on the news and knew I was trying to help this guy out,” he said. “Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to load our snow-removal equipment.”
Harvey said he was happy to assist. “We try to help the neighborhood out when he can,” he said.
Swanson plowed the boat launch while a friend, Chris Hughes, arranged to borrow a boat motor from another friend, Erick Rydeen.
“The motor on the sailboat was broken, so we had to come up with another plan,” he said.
Rydeen and Swanson motored back up the St. Croix River to the Boomsite around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. A very grateful Olson was there to meet them. He shook their hands and thanked them.
The boat will remain on Olson’s trailer at the marina for the next few days. He said he still needs to take the mast down and position the boat correctly on the trailer before he can drive it home.
“We’re just going to enjoy the holiday for now,” he said. “It’s going to be a good Thanksgiving.”
Swanson and Gavic were being hailed as heroes on Wednesday.
“People I don’t even know were coming up to thank me,” Swanson said.
“These guys from Bonsai Motors should get a medal,” Lynne Lawson, a former Bayport resident who now lives in Woodbury, wrote in a note to the Pioneer Press. “It’s kinda risky what they did. So, Happy Thanksgiving to them. That’s what it’s all about!”
Added Steve Norenberg of West Lakeland Township: “I hope Mr. Olson takes those guys out for a nice dinner!”
Olson said he planned to do just that.
“They can pick the place,” he said. “Whatever they want is fine by me.”
One sad side note: While Swanson and Gavic were moving the sailboat on Tuesday, someone went to Bonsai Motors and stole a 14-foot single-axle Bear Track aluminum trailer from the lot.
“Everyone knew about our day off yesterday, so someone decided it was the perfect time to steal from us at Bonsai Motors,” he said. “It never fails — no good deed goes unpunished. I could never think of stealing something from someone else, so it blows my mind that someone else would.”