Mini sailboat sponsored by Scarborough students sails to Sussex

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SCARBOROUGH — A miniature sailboat sponsored by Scarborough students has twice traversed the Atlantic, most recently landing in Sussex, England. 

The School Department’s 5-foot sailboat, called Red Storm, was deployed in May from Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship, State of Maine, on its voyage to Spain. 

The launch is part of a program run by Educational Passages, a nonprofit organization based in Belfast and Kennebunk that was founded in 2008 to educate children about the environment and ocean literacy, while connecting students to cultural opportunities. 

Cassie Stymiest, program director at Educational Passages, said Maine Maritime Academy deploys mini boats in the gulf stream annually for the organization. 

About three months after Red Storm’s launch, the craft made landfall Aug. 18 in Sussex, England, in a small cove within the chalk cliffs near the Seaford Head Nature Reserve, according to the program’s blog. Staff from the Sussex Wildlife Trust recovered the boat, which was brought to a nearby school, Stymiest said. 

More than 150 boats of a similar style to the Red Storm have been launched, and boats are now sailing in the Pacific and in the Indian Ocean off Cape Town, she said.

The Scarborough schools joined the program in 2015.

During Red Storm’s first voyage that year it was deployed off Georges Bank by lobstermen on the Gladys Elaine. In late July of that year the craft landed on the island of Arranmore on the northwest corner of Ireland.

Teacher and technology instructional coach Courtney Graffius said the initial project was a great way for younger students to connect to other parts of the world, which they did by filling a capsule with memorabilia such as T-shirts, bumper stickers and letters that describe Scarborough.

She said it was exciting for them to connect with children in Ireland to share about their home and school life. 

The latest voyage will allow second-grade students to collaborate with another school in England to kick off a unit centered on world exploration and how communities change and evolve. 

Stymiest said for students, tracking the voyage via GPS creates a tangible learning experience, and prompts them to think of geography and how it relates to where they are. It teaches oceanography, and about wind and water currents.

In addition to a science education, there is also a cultural aspect, with students Skyping their peers across the ocean to talk about their shared experience. 

“Every story is unique and people’s connection to it is awesome,” Stymiest said. “It’s a unique connection to people across the pond.”

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka. 

The 5-foot-long mini sailboat Red Storm made landfall in Sussex, England in August. 

The miniature sailboat Red Storm was deployed from Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine on its voyage to Spain by Chief Mate Brendan McAvoy, pictured here in May. 

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