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A 58-foot yacht named Seanote became a legend on Lake Minnetonka this winter after it got stuck in the frozen lake, with crews working for days to get it out of the water.  

Now, Hennepin County is suing the owners of the storied yacht — Paul Berquist, Benjamin Field Wilson, and Superior Dreams LLC — because the 45-ton boat has been sitting in the parking lot of the county-owned boat launch for more than a month. 

The county alleges the yacht, which is filled with 200 gallons of fuel, is creating "dangerous circumstances" because it isn't on a proper trailer and it's situated on a slope at the lot on Shorewood Drive in Spring Park.

"If the Yacht were to topple, residents could be injured or killed," the lawsuit alleges, adding that it could then spill 200 gallons of fuel and oil into the lake, polluting the water. 

The Hennepin County Water Patrol, which is located on the same property as the boat launch, has issued multiple parking tickets and citations for criminal nuisance to the owners, while the county has repeatedly asked the owners to move the yacht. But they have not done so, the lawsuit says. 

Berquist told the Business Journal the county is more focused on penalizing him rather than working with him to find a solution to the problem.

Seanote's story

Seanote has been on Lake Minnetonka for 25 years, having previously been used as a charter boat and stored during the winter at Tonka Bay Marina in recent years. 

Over the past year, Seanote was sold twice as it sat in storage at the marina, the Tonka Bay Marina said in a December 2021 Facebook post. The marina told the owners it would no longer provide services for the yacht as it has been phasing out services for boats of its size for years. 

Then winter hit, and the Seanote had no place to call home, so its owners arranged for it to be transported to the Spring Park boat launch back in December. 

That's when the Lake Minnetonka area started tuning in, with people sharing Seanote sightings in community Facebook groups as it cut through the ice en route to land, becoming a local joke as people shared memes and fables at the yacht's expense. 

And Jay Nygard, an Orono resident, began streaming Seanote's saga on his YouTube page titled Turbine Guy (the name is in reference to some drama he's had with the City of Orono over wind turbines in his yard — it's a long story; you can find more on his YouTube page).  

The yacht finally made it to the Spring Park boat launch on Dec. 15, 2021, and then Berquist and others began working to remove the boat from the water, attracting dozens of onlookers to the area, court documents state. 

Seanote then blocked the boat launch for eight days until it was moved about 100 feet on Dec. 23, 2021, to the parking lot, where it remains. 

County officials placed concrete barriers around the boat and the "homemade flatbed house moving trailer" it was sitting on in an effort to protect the public, court documents state. The boat and the barriers block all but one parking spot in the boat launch lot.

And that's where Seanote remains.

The county says Seanote's owners did not have permission to store the boat in the parking lot and it has repeatedly asked them to move the boat. 

The lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 25, alleges civil nuisance, trespassing, and ejection, seeking immediate injunctive relief that directs Seanote's owners to immediately move the yacht from the parking lot. 

It also seeks to bar the boat from entry onto any county access, damages for boat storage fees calculated by an average of storage charges at nearby marinas for similar-sized boats, damages for harm to the boat access, damages of other county costs, compensation for attorney's fees.

A temporary restraining order hearing was held Thursday morning.

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