Unmanned Sailboat Makes it from South Carolina to Europe

An English fisherman got an unexpected greeting from a Morristown, New Jersey school last week, when a five-foot unmanned sailboat — at sea for a year and a half — made its way down the English Channel and caught his eye.

The Crimson Tide, a sailboat launched off the coast of South Carolina in December 2012 by Morristown Beard teacher Lisa Swanson’s sixth-grade class, was recovered Sunday by fisherman Paris Broe-Bougourd off Guernsey, an island in the English Channel near the French coast of Normandy.

Parent Joe Robillard helped the class launch the boat as part of the Educational Passages program, created to teach students about the world’s oceans. Robillard paid $1,500 for the boat plus monthly fees for the GPS service.

A picture of the class, and a note with contact information in English, French, and Spanish were fiberglassed to the top of the boat. Each student also signed their name on the top of the Crimson Tide.

Now in seventh grade, the class – and Swanson’s sixth-grade class for this school year – have monitored the boat via a GPS tracking device that transmits to a satellite daily for nearly 450 days.

The boat’s 3,000-mile trans-Atlantic journey was the idea of sailor Dick Baldwin, creator of the Educational Passages initiative. To date, Educational Passages has launched nearly 20 boats, some of which have sailed through hurricanes and have been retrieved in Portugal, Granada, and Nova Scotia. Another boat washed ashore in a tribal village in Panama.

“We’ve had a few close calls,” said Swanson of the Crimson Tide’s journey. “At one point we were three miles off the coast of Brittany (France) and tried to arrange for someone to pick the boat up, but gale force winds pushed it back out to sea into the Channel.”

When Broe-Bougourd found the Crimson Tide, it was covered in gooseneck barnacles, without its sail, and a compartment carrying a container with a Morristown Bear T-shirt, money, and a thumb drive with pictures and messages were apparently lost at sea. Somehow, the ship still managed to complete its journey.

Courtesy of www.dailyrecord.com


Author: Blue Water Sailing