In May 2017, students from Harbor View Elementary School in Charleston, USA, filled the hull of a small boat with letters, coins, a flag and other mementos from the Charleston area. The little boat, just 1.5m long and with a small sail, was launched by the US Coast Guard into the Gulf Stream off the southeast coast of the USA. It was fitted with a GPS unit so that the students could track its journey, learning as they did about the ocean, currents, geography and the environment.
One-hundred and fifty-four days later, having travelled over 5,000km, the intrepid little craft made land on the west coast of Ireland, in Ballycroy, Co. Mayo. It was battered and the mast was broken, but the hull was intact. As instructed by a note on the boat, the local who found it brought it to the nearby national school, at Drumgallah. The students there explored the contents and contacted Harbor View School to report on the exciting discovery.
A year later, the little boat was on its travels again, this time by land to Cork. Thanks to a collaboration between Cork City Council, Creative Ireland, the Port of Cork and the National Maritime College of Ireland, arrangements were made to relaunch the HVES Mini-Boat, now renamed the Cork Mini-Boat Atlantic Adventure.
It was expertly repaired and restored by Jim Walsh, of Walsh Boatworks in Nohoval, but it needed a uniquely Cork decoration for its second journey. For that, Cork City Council’s Old Cork Waterworks Experience and Creative Ireland invited primary school children to submit designs inspired by Cork and its special relationship with the ocean. Their artwork was used to create a colourful collage that was placed on the boat, and a special sail featuring the Cork Coat of Arms was commissioned.
In September 2021, with assistance from the Port of Cork, the refurbished mini-boat was relaunched by the crew of the Independent Horizon, an ICL cargo vessel and regular visitor to Cork. To avoid the Gulf Stream and an imminent return to Irish shores, the boat had to be taken almost to the US coastline before it was released!
The relaunch of the HVES/Cork Mini-Boat was marked by a virtual exhibition of the artwork and a mini-boat pocketbook, as well as virtual transatlantic classroom visits between schools in Cork and Harbor View Elementary School. Speaking at the handover to the Port of Cork, Cllr. Fergal Dennehy, who was deputising for the Lord Mayor, said: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for Cork school children to connect with children on the other side of the Atlantic and to learn about the ocean, the weather and the world they live in. I want to congratulate all of the team who played a part in getting the boat to sea again to continue its voyage of discovery.’
Since its relaunch, the Cork Mini-Boat has been making intriguing manoeuvres off the east coast of the USA. You can follow the daily GPS updates and read the full story of its journey: at HVES Cruiser – Educational Passages.