Chelsea’s boat sets sail again

Thunder BayHi everyone! It’s Chelsea Ellard of Thunder Bay with an update for you on the little sailboat I found on a Lake Superior island last summer. If you have been on this journey with me the whole way, welcome back. If this is your first time, here is the link to my previous chapter: northernwilds.com/mystery-of-the-lost-sailboat-solved.

I am happy to announce that I relaunched the little sailboat this year on July 22, as we left Isle Royale and started our two-week summer vacation on our boat. I had been preparing the little sailboat for a long time over the winter so it can take on anything that the Gitchigami challenges her with. This is the Ojibwe’s name for Lake Superior, translated as the Great Sea. There are times we cannot see land when we are in the middle of the lake, so it is like a big sea with huge waves.

My parents helped me to put this little sailboat on her next long and safe journey across Lake Superior. My Dad and I prepared the little sailboat by cutting out all new birchbark sails, fixing both masts and gluing them into place. We used Varathane, a wood sealer, over the entire boat to keep it from getting water-logged. We also attached a brass plate on the bottom of the hull with our phone number engraved into it if someone else finds it.

At 6 a.m. (yes, 6 a.m.!) my Dad woke me up to launch the sailboat off the back of our big boat. I launched it at Rainbow Point, just before the lake got too rough. Rainbow Point is such a beautiful spot for this exciting moment. It is named this for the big boulders on the shore that are all different colours; many shades of red, yellow, purple, grey, black and white.

My Dad took lots of photos and it was finally time to let the little sailboat go on her way once more. I got on the back of the boat on the swim platform. This is when tears came to my eyes. I let the little sailboat go into the water and as soon as the wind caught her sails, she was on the move like you wouldn’t believe! Everyone had tears of joy in their eyes and we couldn’t believe we finally did it. My Dad told me that he thought the little sailboat was going to head to the Apostle Islands. I just couldn’t imagine it traveling so far! I wonder if it made it?

I hope it’s still doing ok. If someone finds the boat, I hope they call and tell me how far the boat traveled. I really love how the whole world is connected no matter where we live, or what we look like. The sailboat’s journey has reminded me of the story Paddle to the Sea. I’ve said this in my other articles but I just love how I’m able to experience such a wonderful book. That moment of setting the boat free is something I will always remember. I hope somebody finds the sailboat and takes care of her like I did, then sets it free again for another journey.

I would also like to tell of another little message as it’s the one thing in the whole world I hope I can change. I am so lucky to go on our boat to so many islands that most people will never visit. With this opportunity, comes great responsibility to share my message. Most of us have let balloons go into the sky and watch them fly away. It’s exciting, isn’t it?

Well, most of us don’t know what happens to the balloons, or even think about where they go. Although some balloons decompose once they land on the beaches, sadly that is not true for most. The balloons that don’t decompose stay on the beaches for years. The worst are those big silver balloons. I have found so many balloons on the beaches, you would be shocked. Almost every beach we have walked, there is a balloon or two, or even more! I pick them up and take them back with me to throw them out properly.

I hope with this little message, that together, we can make a huge difference.Chelsea Ellard, age 12