Marine Institute

Miniature Lancer boat launched from the RV Celtic Explorer in the mid-Atlantic as part of a transatlantic mini-boat regatta

The miniature unmanned one and a half metre Lancer boat, that was originally found washed ashore in Galway after a transatlantic crossing and found in Galway by Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, was recently relaunched at 1015 UTC from the Marine Institute's research vessel RV Celtic Explorer on the 22nd April, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as part of an Atlantic Mini-boat Regatta: 'Around the Atlantic – Our Shared Resource'.

The Lancer was launched at position 52˚16.1'N, 033˚11.4'W and can be tracked using the GPS: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_whs_2016_1.html

Dr Margret Rae, of the Marine Institute and Manager of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination & Support Action (AORA-CSA), explained that the crew deployed the Lancer boat on the from the RV Celtic Explorer during its nine day voyage to Newfoundland - Labrador. "We hope the unmanned Lancer boat will catch the Irminger current and take it northwards towards Greenland, or the Canary current and take it southwards towards Africa." The Irminger Current is a north Atlantic ocean current setting westward off the southwest coast of Iceland.

The transatlantic funded programme AORA-CSA formed a partnership in 2016 with Dick Baldwin's Educational Passages mini-sailboats in the USA, and together are running an Atlantic Mini-boat Regatta: 'Around the Atlantic – Our Shared Resource'. "The project aims to further promote ocean literacy recognising the importance of the ocean and how it has an impact on our daily lives, and it is likely that we will get to see more of the mini boats like the Lancer landing in Ireland over the coming year," said Dr Rae.

AORA-CSA aims to promote the understanding of the value of the Atlantic Ocean by promoting transatlantic international marine research cooperation – all stemming from the historic Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation signed in Galway, Ireland in 2013.

Film footage of the Lancer being deployed provided by Louise Manifold.

Nine months ago in September 2016, Méabh found the Lancer boat washed ashore on her local beach after it had travelled across the Atlantic as part of a year-long research project that 18 year old Kaitlyn Dow from Connecticut, USA had undertaken. Kaitlyn had launched the boat from the USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Neil Armstrong off the coast of Cape Cod in May 2016. The boat was fitted with a GPS tracker and she studied its movements across the North Atlantic where she was studying wind and currents in the ocean.

In February 2016, Kaitlyn, her family and Michael O'Connor, Kaitlyn's Science Teacher travelled to Ireland to meet Méahb and her family and said, "I am thrilled to see this project to the next stage bringing Méabh and Kaitlyn together. Although this started as a science project, the social connections and the sea that binds them are just as important as the data collected".

"Kaitlyn learned to design a study from the ground up, figure out how to fund it, make the social and professional connections to further the project and foster an international dialog about the ocean. She has a love for sailing and turned that love into a science project with great social impact and a great story. She will carry that combined social service and love of the sea to the Coast Guard Academy next year for college," Michael O'Connor further said.

"Stories like Meabh and Kaitlan's is a wonderful example of both marine science literacy and citizen engagement with the oceans – themes which are a priority for the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between Canada, the EU and USA. Seeing new friendships formed across the Atlantic at an early age highlights the value of international partnerships that are essential for sharing marine science" said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.

With the Atlantic being the second largest ocean in the world, it is important to increase our awareness of the value, opportunities and societal benefits the ocean provides us," Dr Heffernan further said.The Atlantic Mini-boat Regatta is an exciting international demonstration of how results of ocean science and observation address pressing issues facing our citizens, the environment and the world and help to foster public understanding of the value of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Marine Institute would like to thank Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway for her great efforts promoting the miniature Lancer Boat project in Ireland. She has become a true ambassador for raising peoples awareness about the importance of our ocean. We would also like to thank Kaitlyn Dow and her team of supporters from Connecticut, USA for their help with continuing the story of the travels of the boat.

Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway testing the miniature Lancer boat in Galway Bay prior to it being delivered to the RV Celtic Explorer

Méabh Ní Ghionnáin from Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway testing the miniature Lancer boat in Galway Bay prior to it being delivered to the RV Celtic Explorer.

For more details on the Lancer Boat story - Unmanned miniature Lancer Sail boat to be deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer