1st Voyage

  • May 2019 - Boat kit arrives in Michigan

    The boat in a box kit has arrived at the school! Plans are underway to be the first miniboat launched in Lake Huron…

  • September 2019 - Named

    While the students were preparing the miniboat, they came up with a name. After just coming back from a trip to American Samoa in August, they aptly named it “Fautasi” which means sailboat in Samoan. Fautasi is a Samoan boat similar to a longboat, and while the students were in American Samoa we were able to watch a Fautasi race between teams from local villages.  

  • October 8, 2019 - First miniboat in Lake Huron launched


    STOCKBRIDGE, Mich., October 8, 2019 – The Stockbridge InvenTeam traveled to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena Michigan on Tuesday October 8, 2019 to launch there 5 foot long sailboat as part of the Educational Passages mini boat project.

    While participating in the Educational Passages Project students around the world prepare, deploy, and track their very own mini-boat (five-foot long unmanned sailboat) while learning about ocean currents, weather, technology, and more. Equipped with a GPS transmitter, they typically cross the ocean in several months driven by the wind and currents. When the boats land, students create transoceanic classrooms, connecting with different nations and cultures around the world. This multidisciplinary approach uses ocean literacy to empower students, creating citizen scientists and global environmental ambassadors. The Stockbridge InvenTeam anticipates there boat taking a little over a week to travel across Lake Huron to Canada.

    While the students were preparing the miniboat, they came up with a name. Having just returned from a trip to American Samoa in August, they aptly named it “Fautasi” which means boat in Samoan. Fautasi is a Samoan boat similar to a longboat, and while the students were in American Samoa we were able to watch a Fautasi race between teams from local villages.

    The team is using the skills developed as part of this project to not only learn about the Great Lakes but to learn about Global Positioning Systems and sensors that they will continue to develop for the mini-boat and other class projects.

    The team invites you to follow “Fautasi” across Lake Huron on their Educational Passages website:  http://educationalpassages.org/boats/fautasi/

    Pictures were posted of the miniboat in front of the R/V Storm at the dock as final preparations were made before launching.

    She was launched the morning of October 8, 2019 about 20 miles east of Alpena. 8 miles from Thunder Bay Island.

    This is the very first miniboat launched in Lake Huron (and second in the Great Lakes after Sconis back in 2015 in Lake Michigan)!

    Our mini-boat “Fautasi” heading North. Educational Passages NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

    Posted by Stockbridge InvenTeam on Wednesday, October 9, 2019

  • October 9, 2019 - Update

    This morning she is off of Presque Isle Harbor in Lake Huron still heading North. Mr. Richards said that it “looks like the wind will be out of the south and south east for the next few days.  It should start to come out of the West/South West on Saturday.”

    Will the miniboat follow?

  • October 10-11, 2019 - Landed and recovered

    The Fautasi followed the winds out of the south and landed on the northern shore of Lake Huron on the morning of October 10, 2019. It was found by Tom Parling on October 11 and plans to bring the miniboat to a nearby school.


    On this first voyage, the miniboat Fautasi sailed for >142 km (76 nm) in 42 hours.

    In a straight line the distance was 132 km 71 nm).

    The average speed was 1.85 knots and was fastest on October 10 when it was sailing at 2.34 knots.

    Later that day, the Fautasi was recovered off the beach by students from De Tour Area Schools, thanks to Tom Parling. They noted on Facebook: “Today, some of students in Mr. Hoffman’s science class “fished” a boat out of the water on the scenic, that was sent out to sea by students in a science class in Stockbridge, Michigan. This boat was launched from Alpena recently. It contained a couple of notes from the senders and it contains a GPS unit to track it’s journey. The Raiders will be putting a token representing our school, doing documentation, and casting it back to sea to allow it to continue it’s journey.”


  • Voyage 1 - Complete

2nd Voyage

  • October 17, 2019 - Relaunched

    An update from the De Tour Area Schools on Facebook said “Now our students from Mr. Hoffman’s class have followed the instructions and have written a letter and put it inside along with something signifying that it had visited DHS(thank you for the use of the 3-D printer Mr. Nettleton).”

    On October 17, received word from Mr. Hoffman: “We released the boat at 12:00 today. We released it about 3 miles west of Detour. A strong northwest wind was pushing the boat. We look forward to see where it ends up.”

    The GPS is set to report every six hours but the 12 GMT report had the boat still at the school.

    At 22:2o GMT the first at sea report came through – 26 km from where it was launched.

  • October 18, 2019 - Landed and recovered after 17 hours

    The Fautausi sailed south for 17 hours and landed in Rogers City, Michigan. It is now safe at the library for the weekend thanks to A. Marlowe, Don Dimick, Bryan Dort, and Carmeuse. Don plans to bring the boat to the Rogers City school on Monday into their ROV class.

    Recovery was even captured on video:


    On this second voyage, the miniboat Fautasi sailed for >70 km (38 nm) in 17 hours. The average speed was 2.2 knots.


    Uncaged Online wrote a Facebook post about it on October 11, 2019, saying “On Tuesday, Oct. 8, a 5 foot-long sailboat from the InvenTeam ventured across Lake Huron toward Canada. The team launched its boat at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary as part of the Educational Passages Project, “a complex project where the students build a sailboat that has a censor package on it, which is essentially a GPS tracker,” Robert Richards, InvenTeam leader and Underwater Robotics instructor said. “The beams add up to a satellite, and from there the satellite drops it down to a web page that manages the GPS tracks.” The sailboat, “Fautasi,” landed west of Drummond Island early Thursday morning. The boat is used to track ocean currents and how items move in the water. Other students across the U.S. are launching their sailboats as well. The project has “been going on for several years. Most of the boats are in the ocean. We’re the second ones in the Great Lakes and the first ones to launch in Lake Huron,” Richards said. “If it’s not damaged, we’ll just clean it up, put some more sensors on it, and then, hopefully, run it in all the Great Lakes.” – Click here to read the post.

  • October 2019 - Travel to Rogers City High School

    By October 22, the miniboat was at Rogers City High School. The Rogers City ROV team opened the hatch up on Monday the 21st and added an artifact.

    Stockbridge High School plans to relaunch M/B Fautasi in the spring and are hoping to do it at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in conjunction with the Great Lakes Regional ROV Competition.

  • January 2020 - "Great Lakes Are: Fautasi" Enters Student Film Competition

    In January 2020, students Hailey Howard, Julia Marhofer and Chelsey Asquith submitted two short films to this year’s Student Film Competition at the Thunder Bay International Film Festival. A panel of eight judges composed of filmmakers and multimedia professionals from northeast Michigan and beyond scored each of the films entered, and the overall top scoring 13 were selected for viewing at the 2020 Thunder Bay International Film Festival. The films they submitted were “Great Lakes Are: Fautasi” and “Joining Forces To Protect The Ocean.”

    Here is the “Great Lakes Are: Fautasi” video:

    By March 2020, the “Joining Forces To Protect The Ocean” was in the 2020 High School Finalists category!

  • Voyage 2 - Complete

3rd Voyage

  • Phase 2: Sensors!

    In 2022, the Stockbridge Special Projects Lab started up the project again. By September, the students were hard at work refurbishing their mini-boat, Fautasi. The Stockbridge students are currently in the process of sanding, repainting, and wiring new sensors and a camera for Fautasi. They hope to get Fautasi out on the water by early October.

    The map above shows the voyage data when the boat is “at sea” but you can also see the sensor pack data during the testing and installation phase, which is happening now. Once the boat is launched, the location reports will also be displayed on the map above, and the data from the sensors will be sent to the students after the voyage for further analysis.

    May 2023 – Ready for relaunch!

    The team drove up to Alpena, Michigan on May 24 with their miniboat, and on the morning of May 25 boarded the Lady Michigan to relaunch Fautasi in Lake Huron. This time it was upgraded with a suite of sensors and camera, too!


    To learn more about the Grecian shipwreck, click here and explore a 3D model of it here.

    Special thanks to NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary for all their support:

    Data from Onboard Sensor System

    The data below are reporting from a custom sensor package. In addition to reporting location with a GPS tracker, this system is also collecting air temperature, water temperature, and orientation of the boat. It also has a camera.

    Here is a picture from the deck taken during final preparations on May 25:

    Here is the first picture of the boat “at sea”:

    We took another picture shortly after, but this time higher resolution and some more every 4 hours or so:

The Joining Hands project between the school, the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena Michigan, is now going to connect across the world with their very own miniboat.

Visit the Stockbridge Special Projects Lab (previously named InvenTeam) on Facebook for updates and progress.