Belfast High School’s creative problem solving class’s mini-boat is about to complete an amazing, 8,000 nautical mile voyage. This four-and-a-half-foot unmanned, GPS-equipped sailboat was released off Puerto Rico last June and has sailed through two hurricanes, 30-foot seas, and through the Bermuda Triangle. It is now 360 nautical miles off the Spanish coast and an effort to recover her will be made next week.

The Maine Maritime Academy’s State of Maine training ship is currently in Portsmouth, England and will be leaving June 10, making her way back to Castine. Her course will take her close by the Belfast boat and she will attempt to rescue her on June 13.

Project manager Dick Baldwin says, “During the past several months, the mini-boat has slowed down and has started to sail a very erratic course.” Dick thinks she may have become dismasted, but adds, “We won’t know until the State of Maine recovers her.”

If the boat is recovered, plans are underway to refit her and send her out again this fall. Plans are currently under way to run a Trans-Atlantic race with two or three other mini-boats, which would start this September.

The purpose of this project is to provide hands-on learning opportunities to our students. High school students build the boats and learn oceanography, middle school students learn earth science and the grade school students improve their map reading skills, geography, and history as these boats tend to follow the courses of the early explorers to the new world.

This program enjoys support and expertise from many respected organizations including: Maine Boats, Home and Harbors magazine, Maine Maritime Academy, Penobscot Bay & River Pilot Association and the Husson Boat School in Eastport. For more information on this project or to enter a boat in the race, email dick@epboats.com.