Ask Eddy: Finders Keepers

You've got questions, Eddy's got answers

Illustration by: Aaron McKinney
Illustration by: Aaron McKinney

Can I claim a wayward canoe under maritime salvage law?
Funny you should ask, because Eddy's been researching this very question as it pertains to former friend Frank Lane. He says that Eddy should give him back the Old Town Guide 16 he found floating on the lake on Memorial Day, full of empty beer cans.

"Some people think that just because you found it you own it. That's basically wrong," says Tom Bergh, attorney and owner of sea kayak outfitter Maine Island Kayak Company. "Salvage cases have to be heard by a Federal court, which would cost you at least $10,000, and you'd have to prove that you'd saved the boat from imminent danger, risking your own vessel and life to do so," he says. "Then you'd be entitled to some percentage of the boat and cargo's value—essentially a lien."

Salvage laws stretch back 3,000 years, and were written to encourage people to help save lives and property before there was such thing as a Coast Guard, Bergh says. There was also a need to distinguish between helping someone salvage their property, and pirating it. Eddy maintains that the marsh grass in Washerwoman's Bay, which can be full of particularly bloodthirsty mosquitoes that time of year, and in which the canoe in question was lodged, certainly represents imminent danger. But lacking the cash for a court case, he'll probably drop it. Just ease up on the piracy talk.

Are burnt marshmallows bad for you?
Very bad for you, especially if they land on exposed skin while still flaming. The burn scars may still be visible 30 years later, according to testimony at Eddy's unsuccessful re-instatement hearing for Junior Voyageur troop No. 7. Which is sad for Tim Arbuckle's adult dating life, but should not be grounds for Eddy's life-long banishment, considering the marshmallows were not "deliberately flung" but rather were the result of an octuple-roaster stick malfunction. If you mean eating burnt marshmallows, then that's probably bad too, says dietitian Sadie Clements.

"Marshmallows are essentially puffed sugar, which is a starch," she says. "Some starchy foods, like bread and potatoes, have been found to contain acrylamide when burned."

Acrylamide is a known carcinogen and is banned in water by the EPA, but Clements says few studies have been done on its effect on people in food. Realistically however, Clements says, "the amount of burnt marshmallows you would have to eat to get cancer from them is probably incalculable because you'd likely die from an obesity related disease first."

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