1st Voyage - Recovered after 472 days

  • November 28, 2017 - About the Nishi Kaze Miniboat

    Blog #1 from the Green Group 4th Grade

    The name of our boat is the Nishi Kaze (it means ‘west wind’ in Japanese). We are 4th graders from Richmond Elementary. We are working on sending this boat to Japan. We started making this boat in September and we want to finish our boat by Thanksgiving so we can launch it in December. We have 4 different teams working to make this happen:

    Deck Design Team
    The deck design is working on splitting into 3 different groups each has 2 different people and drawing designs for the aft (back of the boat). Then they will vote on what design they want to do and then print it on rice paper and then cover the rice paper in epoxy. Then it will dry and the rice paper will dissolve leaving only the drawings.

    Hull Team
    The hull team is splitting into groups to divide the work. They will be painting a rainbow and in the red and orange sections they will paint a sunset. On the other side they will paint small pictures that consist in two different colors and in the middle a logo that represents Portland. They chose who would paint which color. They put duct tape to separate the different colors and then when the different colors dry they will take the tape off. They started with blue, red and yellow and then they will mix the colors to make the rainbow.

    International Relations and Recovery Team (IRR)
    The IRR team is writing the blog. We are writing and translating the finder’s instructions with google translate, and then we are writing letters to ask for parents to translate them. We are also figuring out which currents in the Pacific Ocean the boat could take so that we know which languages to translate the finders instructions into. We will then print them on rice paper and cover it with epoxy so that when it dries only the ink will be left. The ink must be black so that it will not wash off easily.

    The Sail Team
    The sail team did two rough drafts on paper and then they drew with pencils on the sail. Then they will sharpie with sharpies, Each class member wrote their name on the side of the sail by a heading of the team they are a member of. The sail team went to each person and asked which color they wanted their names to be. Some things the sail team wrote drew was the American flag, Japanese flag, rose, the Portland Oregon sign and the St. Johns Bridge.

    We have been very busy making the boat and we hope it makes it to Japan.

    Other preparation pictures:

  • November 28, 2017 - Ready for Deployment

    Update from Nate Sandel

    While visiting Richmond Elementary today, in the midst of painting the boat for Japan, my phone began buzzing in my pocket. When we cleaned up I saw I missed a call and a text from Capt. Jordan of the Columbia River Bar Pilots saying the CS Decisive was leaving today at 3pm and would launch a miniboat for us on their transit to Panama! The problem was… it was 1pm and I was in Portland, almost two hours from Astoria and we still had tasks to complete. At 1:30 I hit the road and got stuck in Portland traffic. Luck be have it, though, the ship was delayed and I rushed to the pilot station where I was met by two very happy boat operators and one very excited bar pilot. We immediately delivered him and the  S/V Nishikaze to the CS Decisive. I can’t wait to show the kids this story. We are asking them to launch south of Los Angles, but the students will make the final call as they have lots of ocean to choose from!


    And here’s a video of the loading that was posted on Facebook:

  • November 29, 2017 - Onboard the CS Decisive

    On November 29, 2017, Captain Ellsworth, Master of the CS Decisive (Cable Ship) sent word that they are prepared to take Nishikaze to sea and also sent along a few photos of it on board. “We are averaging around 12 knots and when you think we are in a good spot to release the boat we will come to a full stop and gently release her in which we hope will be a successful trip to the Hawaiian Islands. More pictures to follow when her maiden voyage takes place.”



  • December 2, 2017 - Launched

    Message from Captain Ellsworth

    What a perfect day onboard the Cable Ship Decisive for the launching of the S/V Nishikaze.  This morning we unlashed the Nishikaze and prepared the vessel for launch. Chief Officer McDonald rigged the sail and ensured it was secure. The solar panel was cleaned and a final check of the vessel was completed. Many of the crew stopped by for a photo and to wish the S/V Nishikaze a safe and successful voyage. At 1300LT I informed the Chief Engineer that we would commence slowing the engines in order to stop the Decisive. During this time the Chief Officer, Bosun and crew prepared lowering our portside accommodation ladder. At 1330 the Decisive was completely stopped and on a heading that would ensure the Nishikaze would sail away from our hull. At this time we said our goodbyes and released the MIGHTY Nishikaze. After monitoring the vessel for 10 minutes the Nishikaze was stable and sailing on a heading of 190 degrees and moving at 0.8-1.0 knots. The crew, feeling good that it was a successful launch, prepared the Decisive to continue our voyage to the Panama Canal.

    Release Position and Weather conditions:
    Date: 02 December 2017
    Time: 1330LT & 2130GMT
    Position: Latitude: 29-07.3N
    Longitude: 116-46.1W
    Wind: 325 deg @ 7knots
    Barometer: 1013mb
    Sea Temp: 19C/66F
    Air Temp: 20C/68F
    Swell: 300 deg @ 2.5m with 15 second period

    The crew of the Decisive and I would like to thank all involved and especially the students of Richmond Elementary to let us participate in such a fun project.  It was a real honor and we all look forward to tracking the S/V Nishikaze. We wish her favorable currents, following seas and many sea miles ahead.

  • May 21, 2018 - Into the Domain of the Golden Dragon

    A message arrived by email today from the CRMM fleet director Nate Sandel: “Please help me welcome the S/V Nishi Kaze into the Domain of the Golden Dragon!  At approximately 5:15 PM Pacific Time on 5/21/2018 she crossed the International Date Line! On June 1 I will be presenting the teacher and all the students who built her an official Domain of the Golden Dragon Certificate. ”


  • March 2019 - Discovered in Kiribati

    On March 21, 2019, 472 days after the Nishi Kaze was launched, we received an email that said, “We found one boat and a small plastic paper with a piece of paper write on this website.” After a few email exchanges we discovered that the boat was in fact the Nishi Kaze, who had stopped sending its location two months before! The message came from Monika Eeru, who lives on an atoll called Tarawa which is part of the island country Kiribati in the central Pacific Ocean.


    On the first voyage, the miniboat Nishi Kaze sailed for >22,308 km (12,045 nm) in 472 days from dropsite off Baja in December 2017 to Tarawa, Kiribati, in March 2019. In a straight line the distance was only 8,011 km (4,325 nm). The average speed was 1.34 knots and was fastest on 12/8/17 when it was sailing at a speed of about 3.65 knots.

    On Facebook, people were making lots of connections between Kiribati and Oregon:

    In May, we received pictures from Kietau Eeru in Tarawa who is keeping the Nishikaze safe until July when a visit is being planned by CRMM Education Director for relaunch…

    The miniboat is in fantastic shape for having sailed almost 13,000 miles across the Pacific!

    Want to learn more about Kiribati? Check out this website which has lesson plans and materials that teachers can use to facilitate learning about Kiribati.  Thanks to Becky Martinez on Facebook for sharing! https://kiribatikeepers.wixsite.com/home

2nd Voyage - Recovered after 28 days

  • June 16, 2019 (GMT) - Launched off Tarawa

    During the week of June 10, 2019 Nate Sandel, Education Director at the Columbia River traveled to Tarawa, Kiribati to locate, refurbish and relaunch the S/V Nishi Kaze.

    After meeting amazing people willing to help (including Gary McGuire, pictured) the Nish Kaze was relaunch from the channel of the Nippon Causeway on the morning of June 16, 2019. More info on this epic rescue still to come but here are the thoughts Nate shared as he relaunched her by hand in the waters of the equatorial pacific…

    “As I watched her sail away, treading water, I thought: This can’t be real. How is this happening? It was an out of body experience. At that moment I reflected on the meaning of the Nishi Kaze – not only the name, “Western Wind” in Japanese, which she was currently catching, but the overall meaning of the project. This Miniboat, built by kids in Japan and the United States as a way to foster friendship between them was now sailing away from Tarawa, where 75 years ago 6,000 of both our countrymen died, fighting each other. Did the S/V Nish Kaze have a plan all along?”

  • July 13, 2019 - Landed and recovered on Marakei

    The Nishi Kaze first sailed west but after a few days turned east and ended up landing only 90 km (48 nm) from its starting point on the island Marakei which is the next island over from Tarawa (where she was launched only 28 days before).

    She sailed for a total of 1,253 km (678 nm) only to get 90 km (48 nm) away!

    Friends from the relaunch a month before were quickly contacted and word was received that a rescue mission had begun. Within SEVEN hours of landing, the miniboat was recovered thanks to the connections and effort of Derek Tierere.


    On this second voyage, she sailed for 1,253 km (678 nm) in 28 days. In a straight line the distance was only 90 km (48 nm).

3rd Voyage - Recovered after 17 days

  • July 30, 2019 - Launched off Marakei Island

    The Nishi Kaze was set to sea again off Marakei Island thanks to Karianako who found it two weeks before, and Remuera who set it back to sea!


  • August 16, 2019 - Landed and recovered on Butaritari Island

    The Nishi Kaze sailed west for about 300 nm, then north for about 75, and east again, landing on the island of Butaritari.

    A note from the CRMM Fleet lead Nate Sandel on social media said: “The Nishi Kaze has been located on the island of Butaritari in the Republic of Kiribati. Thank you to my friends Derek Tierere and Jacob Krisiano. Everyone in your country is amazingly helpful and kind!”


    On this third voyage, she sailed for 950 km (513 nm) in 17 days. In a straight line the distance was only 120 km (65 nm). She averaged a speed of 1.28 knots and was fastest on August 13, 2019 when she was clocked at sailing 2.62 knots (heading east to Butaritari!).

Prepared by Jaina Kapranos’s 4th grade class. It is the second boat to launch from the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Hear the full story of the epic voyage of the miniboat Nishi Kaze from Nate Sandel, CRMM Education Director and Miniboat Program Manager Extraordinaire:

The story of the Nishi Kaze was highlighted in the NW Yachting Magazine in April 2020:

The Columbia River Maritime Museum’s Miniboat Program was developed in partnership with Educational Passages and the Consular Office of Japan in Portland. Students in the Pacific Northwest build unmanned sailboats equipped with GPS transmitters, one to launch from the coast of North America and the other to send to their partner class in Japan for launching. While the boats are at sea, students on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean will track their movements. Using real-time data on ocean currents and weather, students will share their predictions on where the boats will go next, and hopefully create lasting friendships.

The mission: to get the boats to cross the Pacific Ocean.

The outcome: through hands-on activities and meaningful opportunities, students are enlightened and empowered.