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Nearly 30 years later, toy boat launched from Duluth finally washes ashore

It was launched as part of an elementary school class project.

A mystery about a strange little wooden boat that washed up on the shores of Lake Superior recently has been solved.

This past week, Duluth Public Schools' social media accounts posted a story about the boat, saying it had been found on a remote beach in the Apostle Islands:

"I am traveling to the ocean," an inscription on the underside reads. "Please put me back in the water." 

The message also calls upon the discoverer to inform Duluth's Lakewood Elementary School about its whereabouts.

In its Facebook post, the district asks its followers to "#solveamystery," and they came through — more specifically, the very teachers who helped launch the boat some 27 years ago.

According to an update from the district, one Bonnie Fritch came forward (with photographic evidence, below), telling administrators that she and a fellow teacher launched the boat in 1993-1994 as part of a unit on "Paddle-to-the-Sea" — based on a children's book in which a small wooden boat is launched on Lake Superior:

"In 1993-1994 Brenda Schell and I did a unit of Paddle to the Sea. We mapped out the travels of the canoe through the Great Lakes. A friend of Brenda's made the boats for us and our classes painted them and added the message to the bottom.

On our end of the year field trip for our Duluth unit we stopped at Brighton Beach to launch the boats. I am not sure what happened to Brenda's boat but mine was spotted a year later up the North Shore. The people put a second coat of varnish on the boat and relaunched it. I thought we wouldn't hear anymore about it. Amazing it is still out there."

As Fritch says, the boat was found a year later further up the North Shore and relaunched with a fresh coat of varnish; where it's been since then, nobody knows. 

What happens to the boat now is unclear, though one commenter suggested it be relaunched to travel the Great Lakes again — in which case, be sure to check back here in another 27 years. 

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