Model boat sails in... from Maine

  • We are sailing: (From left) Warwick Academy students Leo Foster, Rhiannon Nester, Zoe Moniz, Majesty Wilson, Ethan Butterfield, Trey Whaley and Jordyn Vallis. Teacher Sue Rickards is pictured front

    We are sailing: (From left) Warwick Academy students Leo Foster, Rhiannon Nester, Zoe Moniz, Majesty Wilson, Ethan Butterfield, Trey Whaley and Jordyn Vallis. Teacher Sue Rickards is pictured front

A model sailboat that washed up on the rocks in Devondale last week travelled more than 1,000 miles from Maine, United States, where schoolchildren had released it into the ocean with an exciting message.

Michael and Anne Sousa found the little fibreglass boat on their Devonshire property and noticed that it came with instructions to take the boat to a nearby school. They immediately gave it to their son Steven, whose girlfriend Sue Rickards is a teacher at Warwick Academy.

After some inspection it became clear that Bermuda was the first stop in what is hoped to be an epic journey for the sailboat, with the aim of linking schools and cultures around the world.

It was released into the water earlier this month by year six students at the Houlton Southside School with the help of Maine Maritime Academy and included a letter, a stuffed moose and some keyrings in a waterproof compartment inside the boat.

What’s more, the Maine students are tracking the boat’s journey via GPS and are already in contact with Warwick Academy.

Under the header “Finder’s Instructions”, the note read: “This is a school boat and we want to learn about the world. We hope it has a long and adventurous voyage with many stops along the way.

“If found at sea fix me up, add a message and trinkets, and send me on my way. If found on land please take me to a school so your students can learn. Please contact us if you can. Let’s see how far around the world we can get this boat to sail!”

Ms Rickards told The Royal Gazette that the children at Warwick Academy were beside themselves when she showed them the boat.

She said: “There was just absolute excitement from children of all ages at the school, it’s amazing.

“They wanted to know where it came from, how it got here, whether they could help to release it back into the water, how they could they follow it and whether they could write a letter. Some were asking, ‘is it remote control?’ I explained that it had come via ocean currents and wind.

“We have contacted the school and they knew it was in Bermuda through the GPS system. They were very excited that it was brought back to a school. I explained that we are the oldest operating school in the western hemisphere.

“We are actually liaising with them, right now, to organise a Skype session between their year six class and one of our classes. Now we are going to compose a letter detailing the history of the school and some fun facts and we are going to try to put in a Warwick Academy bear (mascot) and some photographs of the pupils with the boat and of the school.

“It is such a good idea — we will be able to link with other schools, hopefully around the world, and the children can learn all sorts through the project whether it be about geography, modern languages, weather patterns or humanities ... It can encompass everything it is so exciting.”

Ms Rickards said the school is considering several ways to release the boat so it can continue its journey while the Maine Maritime Academy supplied detailed instructions on how to do so.

Motivational speaker and solo yacht racer Neal Petersen, who is visiting the Island to speak with students, has also offered to take the boat out to sea as an option.

The boat is intact except for some minor damage on the rudder, which will be fixed before it is released.

Houlton Southside School has said it hopes the boat will “return home” by 2018.

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Published May 29, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated May 29, 2015 at 8:52 am)

Model boat sails in... from Maine

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