Marine Institute

The unmanned miniature Lancer Boat heading back to Ireland

July 28, 2017

Follow the Lancer's position - the red line is the sailboat’s current position 28th July 2017.The unmanned miniature Lancer boat is heading home and may land in Kerry or Cork within weeks and can be tracked following the red line at: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_whs_2016_1.html

The miniature unmanned 1 ½ metre Lancer boat that was found washed ashore in Galway in September 2016 after a four month trans-Atlantic crossing off the coast of Cape Cod in the USA; and then relaunched from the Marine Institute's research vessel RV Celtic Explorer on the 22nd April this year, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean has found its way back in Irish waters.

The first adventures of the Lancer boat had started when it had been launched from the USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Neil Armstrong as part of the secondary school project led by student Kaitlyn Dow, Waterford CT Highschool from Connecticut, USA.

The Lancer boat was fitted with a GPS tracker to monitor how it might get caught in the Atlantic's ocean currents and ended up sailing into Droim, Leitir Móir, Galway where it was found by primary school student Méabh Ní Ghionnáin.

Méabh and her family took on the next leg in the Lancer boats adventures where they helped raise awareness about the marine and citizen engagement with the oceans at her school, the sea scouts, as well as talking about her discovery with the media. As part of an Atlantic Mini-boat Regatta: 'Around the Atlantic – Our Shared Resource', the boat also provided a unique opportunity where a trans-Atlantic friendship was formed when Méabh and Kaitlyn got to meet at the Marine Institute in Galway earlier this year.

Repaired by Ciaran Oliver and James Rattigan from Port of Galway Sea Scouts and now flying a new Galway sail, the Lancer boat was launched from the RV Celtic Explorer in April, where it was hoped that it would catch the Irminger current that would take it northwards towards Greenland or the Canary current and take it southwards towards Africa.

The Lancer Boat instead is now finding its way back and is currently in Irish waters and can be tracked at: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_whs_2016_1.html. The RED line shows where the Lancer boat was launched in the middle of the Atlantic and has created some interesting patterns across the ocean showing its movement in the last four months. The blue line shows where the Lancer boat was originally launched from the US vessel in 2016. The white line on was a low tech drifter that Kaitlyn built as part of the NOAA drifters programbut unfortunately got lost at sea.

Dr Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute is delighted to see the Lancer boat is approximately 200 nautical miles off Ireland, "this little boat is proving to be a great vessel promoting awareness about our ocean. 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. With the Lancer currently positioned over the continental shelf, if it keeps heading towards the south-west coast we hope that it lands safely and provides another group of people the opportunity to meet and learn more about our ocean currents and winds of our seas".

These mini-sailboats are part of an Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) Ocean Literacy partnership developed by Paula Keener NOAA between Educational Passages and the AORA Ocean Literacy Working Group as an effort to raising awareness of the Atlantic Ocean and its impact on us and our impact on the Atlantic. To support the AORA, an Atlantic mini-sailboat regatta was introduced in 2016 with these mini-sail boats being launched, retrieved and re-launched in Canada, Europe and the United States of America.

Mike O'Connor, Kaitlyn's school teacher at Waterford CT Highschool in the USA has put a call out to everyone in the South-east coast of Ireland noting that "If people can get the word out that the boat is approaching, maybe someone will see her. Instructions on what to do with the Lancer boat are inside" he explained.

To follow the boat's position, click here: https://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/drift_whs_2016_1.html – the red line is the sailboat's current position.

To contact Mike O'Connor directly, email: Moconnor [at] waterfordschools [dot] org

Click on the short video above to see the video of the lancer being deployed from the RV Celtic Explorer in April

 Also see the video above of Kaitlan and Meabh meeting at the beginning of the year at the Marine Institute

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