Updates:

1st Voyage - Completed

  • May 2021 - Burrillville Students Prepare their Miniboat

    The BHS Environmental Science classes began preparing their miniboat in May.

    By June 18, the miniboat was ready to go, and Mr. Rowe made arrangements for its launch. Check back for updates soon!

  • June 23, 2021 - Launched by F/V Terri Ann, and its journey so far...

    The miniboat BHS Roweboat was launched off the F/V Terri Ann on the morning of June 23, 2021, thanks to Captain Marc Palombo and crew. Here is a picture at the dock before they left:

    This is the 4th miniboat launch for the crew of the F/V Terri Ann and we are so thankful for them!

    Pictures from the launch:

    The BHS Roweboat was off to an interesting start. Sailing a bit southwest she was apparently caught up in a Gulf Stream ring but by June 26 the winds picked up and pushed her onto Georges Bank. She sailed along the northern edge of the Bank for a while, showing nicely how the currents are affected by the bathymetry of the sea floor.

    Jim Manning, an Oceanographer at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center,  has helped track these miniboats for the past decade. He notes the BHS Roweboat‘s track “demonstrates the potential of these little vessels to transect  our continental shelf waters at very little cost.  Powered solely by the sun,  wind, and surface currents, you can imagine a fleet of these fisher-deployed unmanned platforms routinely collecting valuable data when eventually fitted with low-cost sensor packages.  We have a network of citizen scientists on both sides of the gulf who are ready to assist in recoveries and redeployments.”

    About two weeks after it was launched, Tropical Storm Elsa came through, and the miniboat was clocked at a speed of 5.3 knots (when the winds were 36.3 knots, see picture to right). This system seems to have pushed the minboat towards Nova Scotia, where she is currently riding the tides and getting closer to landing in Canada… looks like we may be calling upon those citizen scientists for a recovery and redeployment soon!

    During this time, the story of the BHS Roweboat was picked up by the Providence Journal and published on July 12, 2021. Read the full story by Mark Reynolds: Burrillville students’ project boat circles Georges Bank, weathers Tropical Storm Elsa, nears Bay of Fundy.

    Here is the full press release that was written and distributed on July 11, 2021 by lead BHS Roweboat Educator, Greg Rowe:

    Tropical Storm Elsa Takes Aim at Burrillville High School’s Miniboat Off Georges Bank

    How do you get high school students interested in science??  How about launching a five-foot miniboat into the path of a tropical storm off Georges Bank?

    Roughly three months ago, students from the Burrillville High School’s Environmental Science CTE Program began designing and building a five-foot miniboat (the BHS Roweboat) from a kit designed by the not-for-profit organization Educational Passages out of Kennebunk, Maine. The goal was to take what students were learning in the classroom and provide them with an authentic, hands-on, and real-world experience in the study of oceanography. Instead of simply learning from standard materials, the Miniboat Project allowed students to design, build, deploy, and track the miniboat, while analyzing ocean data such as winds, currents, and waves. The boat’s location is collected by a solar-powered GPS unit onboard.

    The data collected from the miniboat is being tracked and visualized on the Educational Passages’ Path Analysis Tool, developed and maintained by RPS Group. This allows for an excellent way for students and interested parties to monitor the progress of the miniboat on its voyage. While the BHS Roweboat is the school’s first boat launched, the ultimate goal is to develop a mini fleet of these unmanned vessels that, once fitted with low-cost sensor packages, can collect even more valuable data. These data are used for a variety of purposes such as inputs to oil spill trajectory models and modeling for search and rescue operations.

    The BHS Roweboat was launched off the F/V Terri Ann on the morning of June 23rd, thanks to Captain Marc Palombo and his crew of lobster fishermen. Captain Palombo has been involved in four separate miniboat launches.

    Greg Rowe, the Burrillville High School’s Environmental Science teacher who the students named the boat after, stated the importance of bringing students, teachers, and faculty together during a tough year with everything going on with COVID-19. “With the full return of students coming back in March, we wanted a hands-on project that the students could work together on and complete by the end of school year. It was a great project for team-building and to be able to launch the miniboat right before a tropical storm was a huge bonus!”

    For more information and to see if the BHS Roweboat survived Tropical Storm Elsa, go to https://educationalpassages.org/boats/bhs_roweboat/ and https://www.instagram.com/bhs_envsci/.

    Notes to Editor:

    Educational Passages:

    Educational Passages is a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to connect students around the world to the ocean and each other. Schools and or organizations sponsoring a miniboat project, can purchase kits with boat parts and supplies. The students build the boat, fill them with messages and mementos, install the provided GPS, and send them out to sea to ride the ocean currents and wind. Students follow the track on the miniboat’s very own webpage, and teachers can integrate ocean currents, geography, and other topics into their curriculum to connect the miniboat mission. Encouraging further connections, when the boats land, the sticker on them says to bring the boat to a nearby school and connect classrooms from where it was sent to where it has landed. For additional information about Educational Passages, please visit www.educationalpassages.org or call 207-619-1259.

    RPS Group:

    RPS Group plc is a 5,500 employee, publicly held, multinational environmental consultancy and energy resources company with U.S. headquarters in Houston, Texas and their Ocean Science office in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. RPS advises clients on the built and natural environment across diverse public and private economic sectors. RPS has been a proud sponsor of Educational Passages for over five years.


    July 13, 2021

    The miniboat is now sailing near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The wait is on to see if someone can recover it safely before it lands…

  • July 14, 2021 - Landed on Long Island, Nova Scotia and Recovered

    The BHS Roweboat, after riding up and down the coast north of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, entered St. Mary’s Bay on July 13. She sailed towards Church Point, where many were watching on the webcam (https://www.novascotiawebcams.com/en/webcams/universite-sainte-anne/) and nearby offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada out of Meteghan. The boat ended up sailing by the webcam during the night, but we know it was there because of the GPS track!

    On July 14, 2021, the miniboat made landfall on Long Island, Nova Scotia, just south of Balance Rock. Contacts were immediately made through emails and phone calls. Special thanks to Jim Manning at NOAA NEFSC for connecting with Megan Carver at DFO, whose team was able to successfully recover the miniboat within only a few hours of its landing!

    [Image text: BHS Roweboat recovered in Nova Scotia thanks to DFO, Miniboat landed here July 14, 2021, 21 days at sea, 1,610 km traveled, Fastest speed: 6.38 kts on 7/10]

    When Mathew Drewes, Field Officer of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, called us with the news, he said there appeared to be little damage. Pictures later confirmed this so that means another adventure is being planned. He also sent along some photos of the rescue mission, and this description:

    “The vessel was located at the coordinates provided.  It was stuck in the rocks and rockweed along the shore of Long Island, in St. Mary’s Bay.  There doesn’t seem to be much damage to the vessel overall and I’ve attached photos for you to also have a look at.  I’ve arranged for another officer (David – see attached) to set up the next stage of its voyage, most likely it will hitch a ride from Pubnico NS to Georges Bank.  There will be a few of us following to see where it ends up next.  It was a welcome side venture for us, and a great school project idea! Glad we could be a part of it.”

    Thanks to Mathew and David, and all who made this a successful adventure for the BHS Roweboat and students of Burrillville High School!

2nd Voyage - Underway

The BHS Roweboat was set on a fishing vessel on July 24 so it could be relaunched and continue its journey. Check back for updates soon!