Adrift on the Mississippi: Tiny boat found near Red Wing still hasn’t found its makers


Two Twin Cities residents, one who discovered a handmade boat in the Mississippi River in June, are still looking for the two Hastings residents who made it after months of searching.

Ken, who wished to keep his last name anonymous, of Minneapolis, was kayaking the Mississippi River in mid-June when he found a small yellow boat in the backwaters of the river near Red Wing where the Cannon River meets the Mississippi.

The boat said "Open Me" on the outside.

Knowing that friend, Cindy Brausen of St. Louis Park, found excitement in opening messages he found on his kayaking excursions, the little boat was given to Brausen to open.

Inside the boat was a typed letter from the boat's original owners.

"Hello to whoever finds this boat. I put it together for my 2 year old grandson. This is the 2nd boat that we have put out on the Mississippi River in Hastings MN. We have an email address and we would like to hear from you, like where you found the boat, etc. We also hope that you add to or fix up the boat and send it on its way Thank you very much. James R. and Grandpa F," the letter said.

"I carefully opened the screw that held the boat together and unfolded a damp letter in a plastic bag nestled inside with two clear marbles," Brausen said. "This letter brought emotional tears to my eyes, as I envisioned the grandpa building this boat with his grandson and both of them together setting it to sail on the Mississippi River, partially because I am a grandma of a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old."

The letter also included an email address for the finders of the boat to send the requested information to. Brausen sent an email, but after a month of waiting she never heard back.

Based on past success of reuniting a message in a bottle to a sender using a city website and Facebook, Brausen reached out to Lee Stoffel, communications coordinator for the City of Hastings, who posted the story to the City of Hastings Government Facebook page on Aug. 1.

Without success, the story was forwarded to the Star Gazette in hopes that the boat's makers will be found.

Based on the email address provided, Brausen estimates that the boat was on the water for eight years.

Brausen said she will follow the grandpa's instructions to fix up the boat and add to it, just not yet.

"Grandpa F. wants this boat fixed up and sent on its way, however, I was hoping the grandson knows that it was found," Brausen said.

"The grandson might want to see the boat," Brausen added. "His grandfather built it when he was only 2 and may not remember the boat."