For the USS Constitution Museum’s second miniboat project, we partnered with the Donald McKay school, a public school in East Boston. The miniboats Hope and Special were made by third graders in Ms. Feeny and Ms. Rosen’s class over the winter of 2022.
November 2022: Ship Design Challenge at the Museum
The class visited the Museum for a field trip to kick off the project. Students did our ‘Ship Design Challenge’ program and learned the parts of a ship by touring USS Constitution and building their own sailboats out of household materials, then racing them in our water tank.
And fun fact! The Donald McKay school is named for a famous tall-ship builder who had his shipyard right in east Boston. His most famous clipper was The Flying Cloud, which set the speed record for sailing from New York to San Francisco in 1854.
February - March 2022: Boats are Prepared
Over six weeks, students assembled and decorated the boats in their classroom alongside educators from the Museum. They filled and attached the keel, sanded and painted, and designed the deck and sails. Throughout, they had mini-lessons on the connections to USS Constitution.
Filling The Keel
Attaching the Keel
Painting the Boats
March 17, 2022: Naming the Boats
March 22, 2022: Ceremonial Launch
US Navy tradition dictates a ceremony when a new ship is christened and launched. We did our own version at the dock by USS Constitution. Each student shared a wish they had for our boats, and then we did an apple cider champagne toast and a loud and spirited “Huzzah!” as the boats were dropped into Boston Harbor. The commander of Constitution stopped by and gave us special captain’s coins to put in our boats for good luck.
March 24, 2022: Holds Sealed
March 25, 2022: Boats are Shipped to Florida
April 11, 2022 - Launched off Florida
The Sea Education Association SEA Class C-303, Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, took miniboats Hope and Special aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer and launched them into the Gulf Stream on April 11. Here’s the report from Sarah Kingston, Chief Scientist:
“We launched them (amidst student song!) at 15:00. Here are a couple shots, the coordinates, and will make sure I remember to send along the two videos when we return. General Locale – Gulf Stream, just north of FL straights and NE of Miami. 15:02. 27 47.612 N, 79 44.641 W”
April 13, 2022 - Spotted at sea
April 16, 2022 - Picked up at sea
A fisherman named Jim Monroe picked up the miniboat off the coast of St. Augustine. Jim called the number on the deck which was to Educational Passages where he found out more about the boat and project. Jim’s son happens to be a Marine Biology student at Flager College in St. Augustine so the boat was brought there, where a professor took interest!
August 31, 2022 - Relaunched off the coast of Florida
SPECIAL was repaired thanks to Flagler College (more details about this to be added soon).Many thanks to the coordination and support of Mike Alyea, SPECIAL was reunited with its sistership, HOPE while arrangements were made to launch them back into the Atlantic.
Here is Mike delivering the boats to Captain Jimmy:
Thanks so much to Captain Jimmy Laidler, Legend Fishing Adventures, SPECIAL was relaunched into the sea on August 31, 2022! Here is the official launch info:
SPECIAL was relaunched at 1524 EDST on 8/31/2022 at N30 26.6 W80 20.8
Its sistership, HOPE was relaunched the next day.
September 11, 2022 - Landed on beach in South Carolina
Miniboat SPECIAL landed after only 10 days at sea on the northeast point of Bulls Island of Boneyard Beach in Awendaw, South Carolina. It was found by a beach volunteer who called the number on the boat. Here’s what the finder, Wil Christenson, had to say (and pictures of the boat when he found it and recovered it):“I was intrigued when you mentioned your group is working with Sullivan’s Island Elementary School. As fate would have it, I am a marine biologist that has spent the last twenty years guiding and captaining ecotours into the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (CRNWR). On several occasions I have led environmental programs for groups of Sullivan’s Island Elementary School students. We focus on estuary and barrier island ecology. Trips begin with an instructor narrated boatride from the mainland through the estuary to an undeveloped barrier island (Bulls Island). Once arriving at the island, we begin an instructor led trek through the island interior eventually winding up on the beach side. The walk is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the different ecosystems the students are exposed to including the salt marsh estuary, maritime forests, fresh water ponds, dune systems, and, of course, the beach.Although I have retired from that work (when Covid hit), I still spend a large percentage of my free time volunteering in the refuge. It was in this capacity that I happened across S/V Special. I was working as a volunteer on the beach of Bulls Island conducting inventories of sea turtle nests when I found S/V Special. It appeared as a blue spec in the distance. As I got closer, I realized it was a small sailboat. I initially thought I had discovered a lost radio controlled vessel, but was pleasantly surprised to read the placard identifying it as a research vessel.”
Stay tuned for more!