A mini sailboat made by a group of sixth-class students in Ahascragh made it to the Arctic Circle – to deliver Tayto crisps and other goodies to the pleasantly surprised Norwegian family who found it!
The miniature unmanned craft – called Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe (The Sailor of Galway) – was gifted to students at Kilglass NS as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorer Education Program.
And after traveling more than 3,000 km from Irish waters to Norway, the one-and-a-half-meter craft was found on Bunes beach – above the Arctic Circle in the Lofoten Islands – by the family and Bjørnsen’s friends on vacation there during the summer.
Lars said his daughters were delighted to discover the mini-boat washed up on secluded Bunes beach.
“Our neighbor had found the boat and my three daughters were so excited to join him in opening the boat’s hatch to see the Irish messages and the ‘treasures’ inside,” he said.
“We were able to read most of the letters written by students at Kilglass National School in Galway, although some were a bit wet. The girls were also thrilled with the Irish sweets and crisps – which survived the trip, ”he added.
Lars revealed that Bunes Beach is quite secluded on the west side of Reinefjorden on the Norwegian island of Moskenesøya.
“You can only get there by ferry and then walk 3 km to the beach. It is a beautiful beach in a bay surrounded by mountains and steep ridges. However, few people go there regularly.
“Therefore, the fact that we found the Galway Sailor mini-boat, which made its way into the bay and then washed up on shore with little structural damage is incredible for such a small boat,” said explained Mr Bjørnsen.
The ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – The Sailor of Galway’ was provided to the National School in Kilglass, as part of a collaborative school project, coordinated by the Marine Institute’s Explorer Education Program and supported by the International Program Educational Passages in the United States.
The project was also funded by the European project Interreg iFADO (Innovation in the Framework of the Atlantic Deep Ocean), of which the Marine Institute is a partner. The mini-boat was fitted with a sail and satellite tracker, which allowed Kilglass NS students to track it as it crossed the ocean, using the international Educational Passages tracking system. Peter Kane, the teacher who runs the project at Kilglass, was delighted with the news from Norway and thanked the Bjørnsen family for their lovely message to schoolchildren in Galway.
“It really is a mini summer miracle! Everyone at the Kilglass National School is delighted to hear that our mini-boat ‘Seoltóir na Gaillimhe’ was found in Norway. When the mini-boats are found after their trip, it highlights how the ocean connects us all, ”he said.
The Explorer Education Program’s Marine Project involved more than 100 children participating in scientific, geographic and artistic activities to discover the ocean; as well as to prepare the mini boat for its trip.
Students painted and decorated the boat, created artwork and good luck messages, and named the boat “Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – The Sailor of Galway,” which recognizes the tradition of fishing in Galway. The mini-boat was launched by the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Explorer near data buoy M6 in the Atlantic Ocean during a scientific survey in June.
Peter Kane also commented on the collaboration with the Marine Institute’s Explorer Education Program, highlighting the importance of marine themes used in the school curriculum in Ireland.
“The Educational Passages mini-boat program brings children, schools and countries together in so many different ways, from building boats, tracking them at sea, to finding them in new countries when they reach land. firm, ”he said.
“When the ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the Galway Sailor’ last reported its GPS position near the Faroe Islands in June, we weren’t sure if the boat had been damaged or if it was still drifting with the currents and winds.
“We were therefore delighted to receive a call from Cassie at Educational Passages to let us know that ‘Seoltóir Na Gaillimhe – the sailor from Galway’ has returned ashore in Norway,” Kane added.
The teacher and the students were also delighted to learn that their boat had also set a new record for the most northerly trip ever made by one of the unmanned mini-boats with Educational Passages.
“We are now looking forward to the next step in working with the Explorer Education Program and connecting our students with the local Norwegian Primary School, which has taken on the next new boat adventure,” he said. he adds.
The Explorer Education Program is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s state agency for marine research and development.