The next day, she and her son, Karel, a sixth-grade student, took a boat to retrieve the student-made boat, which was still partially intact, and Karel brought it to school.
“Everyone was pretty excited to watch [at] what was inside,” said Mariann Nuncic recently in a Zoom interview. “Nobody knew.”
The boat was called Rye Riptides and was from Rye Junior High School in Rye, NH The students had used Educational Passages’ kit to build the boat, which is pre-built by professional builders. Students fill the keel, install the mast and decorate the sail, said Cassie Stymiest, executive director of Educational Passages.
“Each of the students [has] jobs,” Stymiest said. “They work together to prepare their ship, put messages inside and send it out into the world to see where it can go with ocean currents, wind and weather.”
The initial class of fifth graders worked with their teacher, Sheila Adams, until March 2020, just when COVID-19 hit, Adams said. The project continues the following school year with a new class.
“During quarantine, Ms. Adams had us do some drawings to put on the boat, and we all put a little Rye-related drawing or something like that,” said Aidan Piela, a seventh grader at Rye Junior High. School, in a Zoom Interview with other students in the class.
The boat, equipped with a GPS, was launched a few hundred miles off the coast of Delaware in the Gulf Stream on October 25, 2020, from the SSV Corwith Cramer, with the help of the Education at sea Association based in Woods Hole, according to Educational Passages.
Adams said his students put items like coins, a face mask “to represent the COVID era” and pressed leaves between waxed paper inside the boat.
Students tracking the location of the boat throughout his journey. Some thought it would end up in Canada, but others, like seventh-grade student Molly Flynn, guessed Ireland, based on data from other boats.
On January 30, the boat – most of its deck and cargo hold still intact – ran aground on the uninhabited island in Norway, according to Educational Passages.
The boat was the second object from New England to arrive in Norway in February. Last month, a Maine Department of Transportation hard hat was found in a fjord.
For Adams, who recently retired after 41 years, the boat’s arrival is “bittersweet”.
“I know it’s not going to travel anymore, so I don’t have to keep looking,” she said. “But I’m glad there’s a conclusion.”
Year seven student Solstice Reed said there were many unexpected challenges, such as the boat losing signal while crossing the ocean and peeling paint just before launch.
“It was truly an adventure,” she said. “We encountered so many challenges. We wouldn’t know what challenge we were going to encounter next, and then it would appear and we had to deal with it.
Elen Johanne Holmen, a sixth-grade teacher at Smøla barneskole, said she hoped the schools would keep in touch by email or post.
“I was hoping we would get something more out of it – that we would become friends with them,” she said. “And it’s a great opportunity for us because we don’t speak English every day, so it’s a good exercise for the students.”
Stymiest said it was only the second mini-boat to arrive in Norway. In total, the organization’s boats have arrived in 29 countries, she said.
“I think connection is one thing this program does really well — it really helps bring people together,” Stymiest said. “There is a kind of ocean and we are all part of it.”
Matt Yan can be contacted at [email protected]