July 29, 2020
The Sacred Heart of the Sea star is pictured shortly after launching from the US research vessel Thomas G. Thompson in the southern Indian Ocean in March 2019. Michael Cheadle, associate professor of geology and geophysics at UW, helped launch the mini-boat. The craft recently ran aground in Western Australia and was recovered by a schoolteacher and her husband. (Photo Michael Cheadle)
In March 2019, Michael Cheadle and Theresa Williams helped launch a small sailboat near the Marion Rise in the southern Indian Ocean. After covering more than 8,000 nautical miles in 463 days, the Sacred Heart of the Sea star landed at Dalyellup Beach, near Bunbury in Western Australia.
On June 27, the 5.5-foot-long unmanned ship – complete with its trinket treasures and more than 50 student letters contained inside – washed up on shore. The small boat, without its mast and sail, was delivered to Australind Primary School in early July.
“The Indian Ocean is a large ocean and, therefore, the mini-boat was likely to travel enormous distances,” says Cheadle, associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Wyoming. “But, I didn’t know if he would go to Australia, or stay south of Australia and head even further east towards the Pacific Ocean.”
During the National Science Foundation-funded voyage of the US research vessel Thomas G. Thompson, Cheadle was responsible for deciding where to launch the Sacred Sea Star in the study area, located in the Southern Ocean. Indian. Students at Sacred Heart School, a private coeducational school in Kingston, Massachusetts, built the boat from a kit in 2019.
Theresa Williams, a college teacher at UW Lab School, who served as a “sea teacher” aboard the Thomas G. Thompson voyage, helped finish sealing the boat’s hull after adding some crew memorabilia and mantle rock from the Indian Ocean Floor. She even tied up the sail of the boat to prepare it for launch. She says preparing the ship was part of her Zoom presentation when they spoke remotely with school children around the world.
“I’m not too surprised that the boat has arrived in Australia. It’s pretty exciting, ”says Williams. “We wondered if it could reach the circumpolar current or if it would wash up on earth.”
Carol Smith, a teacher at Australind Elementary School, and her husband, Brian, found the boat while walking their dogs on the beach.
“We saw it coming to shore and read the post up above that said to contact Educational Passages,” Carol Smith said in a press release from Educational Passages, a nonprofit with a mission to connect children. students from all over the world to the ocean and to each other. The organization also sells the miniature boat kits.
“When we found out the boat was called Star of the Sea we couldn’t believe it as we got married at Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Perth almost 30 years ago,” Carol said. Smith in the press release.
Once the miniature boat was at school, the Australian students opened the hatch that revealed letters from their school counterparts at the Sacred Heart. In addition to the mantle rock, Australian students also read a letter from the captain of the research vessel Thompson.
Carol Smith’s students have written response letters and plan to connect with the Sacred Heart Children later this year.
“Many students were hoping the boat could go around the world and, even if it didn’t, we couldn’t have asked for a more successful trip,” says Winifred Dick, teacher at the Sacred Heart school. “As a teacher, I am very excited about the students who can now connect virtually halfway around the world. “
Carol Smith, a teacher at Australind Elementary School, and her husband Brian (pictured) found the Sacred Heart Star of the Sea mini-boat while walking their dogs on the beach in Western Australia. (Photo by Carol Smith)
Cheadle says he and his wife, Barbara John, professor of geology and geophysics at UW, pressured Henry Dick, chief scientist of the Thompson Cruise, and his wife to buy a mini kit. boat and have his students build it so that Cheadle and Williams can launch it into the Indian Ocean.
As the Sacred Heart Sea Star approached Australia and Perth, Cheadle and John asked Bill Power, a consulting geologist in Fremantle, if he would be interested in retrieving the boat. Power and John were classmates at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Power, who has two boys at school, has gathered parents to search for the small boat. They were unlucky, as the boat landed south of where Power and his friends were looking. After learning who discovered the miniature ship, Power finally connected with the Smiths. They agreed the mini-boat should be on display at different schools in Western Australia and at the local city council, Cheadle said.
“I’m glad it’s in Australia and the teachers there are taking advantage of it. It’s wonderful that he turns around. A lot of students are wondering where it came from and how it got there after it was built by American students, ”Williams said. “I hope the students look at a globe and think about ocean currents and winds, and wonder how floating objects can travel such great distances.”
“The plan is to fix the boat and eventually get it going again,” Cheadle explains. “If it could be launched from northwest Australia, it would likely catch the northern edge of the west-flowing Indian Ocean gyre and return to Africa.”
Williams, Cheadle and John were previously part of the launch of The Jackalope – a similar mini-boat built by students at UW Lab School – which had its own adventure. The Jackalope traveled approximately 7,600 miles in its initial 190-day voyage. The sailboat eventually ran aground on Ontong-Java Atoll, one of the most remote atolls in the world, on August 21, 2017. The atoll is located just north of the Solomon Islands and east of Papua New Guinea.
The small ship was finally repaired, with the help of George Kaola, a schoolteacher from the Solomon Islands. The Jackalope was launched again in January this year from the Solomon Islands; covered 3,151 nautical miles in 114 days; and finally landed on the island of Vanuatu in May. Kaola and John helped organize another rescue mission by encouraging friends in Vanuatu to retrieve The Jackalope in June.