The Spirit of Ashley Hall

Ashley Hall (Charleston, SC)


1st Voyage

  • October 2018

    The students of Ashley Hall voted from 42 to 4 names for their miniboat, and eventually to 1 winner: The Spirit of Ashley Hall. They unscrambled over a dozen balloons to reveal the winner on October 5.

  • November 9, 2018

    Update from the Journalism Team: “We have started to sand our boat and prepare it for its long journey across the seas. Each group has been working hard to make our boat strong and durable. Every Friday we continue to prepare our boat. When it is ready and has been launched into the ocean we will predict where it will make landfall. We have already made our first prediction. We can’t wait for the day that someone finds our boat. Here is an interview with an Ashley Hall student.”

  • November 30, 2018

    Update from the students at Ashley Hall: “Today we finished ballasting the keel. We are almost ready to create our group photo, to include in the time capsule and to varnish onto the deck, but 3 students were absent today so we are going to wait until next week. The International Relations team continues to work on writing letters in different languages. Next week, we will attach the keel to the boat and test it in the pool to see where the new waterline is so that we can begin painting the hull. Other students researched local coastal clean-ups and are working on a proposal to create our own. We are determined to give back and to be stewards of our environment.”

    A short slideshow of progress so far:

    Pictures of the students’ work so far:

    Watching the tutorial on ballasting the keel
    Students planning their project
    A member of the Sail team designing the sail
    Getting ready to fill the keel
    The IR team working on letters to include
    Filling the keel with sand and resin
    Checking the water level in the pool
    Double checking the instructions
    Sanding the boat to prepare it for paint
    Sanding the boat to prepare it for paint
    All ready to fill the keel up
    Sanding the boat to prepare it for paint
    Checking how the mast and sail fit
    Involving our art teacher in design
    Gathering materials about Ashley Hall
  • December 7, 2018

    Update from the video team: “This week we are working on creating and iMovie of the boat building process. We are excited to share what we have been doing with you! The keel team is making final preparations to attach the keel. The sail team continues to decorate the sail today. The deck team has done a little extra work to explore ideas for litter clean-ups and they are figuring out what currents will affect our boat. The hull team completed a license plate for our boat and will be laminating it and varnishing it onto the stern of the boat.  They will finally be painting and decorating the hull next week. Finally, the International Relations team continued to work on their letter and translations and gathered more items for the dry hatch.”

    Interview with the Deck Team:

  • SOAH Miniboat Minifilm

  • Sensor Install

    “This is Trip Brower. He helped us drill the holes in the deck, Hull and stern to run the sensor cables and also lent his expertise in attaching the sensors.  He was invaluable!”

  • March 12, 2019 Update

    Update from the Journalism Team: We have done a lot since we last checked in with you. We have attached the keel to the boat, finished the sail, painted the deck and the hull, and put on the anti/fouling bottom paint. On the stern, we epoxied a license plate. On the deck we painted paw prints and a panther. Ellen, one of our sixth grade students, drew an amazing panther free-handed. We have taken a lot of pictures of this process that we will send to you.

    We also shared everything that we knew about our boat, the Educational Passages program, and global ocean processes with the 3rd through 8th grade students during our ‘Boat-a-Thon’!

    We had 8 groups that created exhibits that shared information on topics like

    global winds: 

    ocean currents:

    the topography of the ocean floor:

    Educational Passages:

    the assembly of our boat:

    technology used to track our boat and collect data:

    watercolor art of the ocean floor and processes, etc.  Everyone had a lot of fun as there were also games like ‘pin the GPS on the hatch’ and many others.

    We created a presentation for the students in kindergarten through second grade which ended in them naming an Ashley Hall teddy bear mascot that will ride in the dry capsule. They named him Charles, for Charleston.

    We presented the boat to grades 9-12th this morning, during a special assembly, and they will have the opportunity to sign their names on an Ashley Hall T-shirt that will also be in the boat.  We are making the final changes and finishing touches to our boat and will deploy it into the Atlantic in a few weeks! Stay tuned!

  • April 1, 2019 Update

    The Spirit of Ashley Hall at sea…

    April Fool’s!

    She’s still on land and will be heading to sea after April 13, come back and check then!

    This is Holly and her daughters after they made the fun April Fools Day video
  • April 2019 Progress Update

    A few pictures of progress: Holly’s Dad helping to seal the hatch… the dry capsule contents before sealing, and the Spirit of Ashley Hall miniboat in the truck on the way to Florida to be delivered to the Showtime.


  • April 13, 2019 - On board S/V Showtime, to be deployed... or so we thought!

    The crew of the S/V Showtime took the miniboat Spirit of Ashley Hall on board in Florida.

  • April 16, 2019 - Gale force winds, no launch today

    While the Showtime sailed north, they had planned to drop the miniboat in the Gulf Stream, but gale force winds changed those plans real quick! Here was the forecast on April 16:

    Cape Hatteras to Cape Fear to 100 NM Offshore.-
    423 AM EDT Tue Apr 16 2019
    .TODAY...N to NE winds 15 to 25 kt, diminishing to less than
    10 kt. Seas 5 to 9 ft. 
    .TONIGHT...W to SW winds 5 to 15 kt. Seas subsiding to 3
    to 5 ft.
    .WED...W to SW winds 10 to 20 kt. Seas 2 to 4 ft. 
    .WED NIGHT...SW winds 5 to 15 kt, becoming S. Seas 2 to 3 ft. 
    .THU...S winds 5 to 15 kt. Seas 2 to 4 ft. 
    .THU NIGHT...S winds 15 to 25 kt. Seas 5 to 8 ft. 
    .FRI...S winds 20 to 30 kt. Seas 7 to 12 ft. 
    .FRI NIGHT...S winds increasing to 35 to 45 kt. Seas building
    to 12 to 20 ft.
    .SAT...S to SW winds 30 to 40 kt, becoming SW 25 to 30 kt. Seas
    10 to 17 ft. 
    .SAT NIGHT...SW winds 20 to 25 kt. Seas 7 to 13 ft. 
    The crew noted: “As you can see, gale force winds from the south are not conducive to a good start on a journey eastward.  Neither are 30’ waves.  These are very rare conditions, and pretty severe. In one way, we are lucky not to have tossed the little boat in front of this weather system. Also, the wind for now is blowing exactly the wrong way. They will go the right way Wednesday but then blow from the south, and then the storm.”
    While the Spirit of Ashley Hall wasn’t launched this trip, she is certainly having a grand adventure!
  • April 22, 2019 - Aboard the M/V Bermuda Islander

    While the miniboat traveled up the east coast aboard the Showtime, it didn’t even touch the water… but now it is aboard the M/V Bermuda Islander for deployment much further offshore out of New Jersey. Thanks to Andrew Parish, River Pilot, who noted: “We have sent the Ashley Hall aboard the M/V Bermuda Islander, outbound the Delaware River this evening, bound for Bermuda. The crew will launch the boat Wed am in daylight. They should be about 300 nm down the rhumb line from the Delaware Capes to Bermuda. I would expect it will be 24 hrs before we see any tracking updates. Fair seas and following winds for the voyage of the Ashley Hall.”

  • April 24, 2019 - Deployed at sea

    From the crew of the Bermuda Islander: “This morning at 0815 LT (+3 GMT) boat was successfully launched with the distance of 360 nm from Delaware Capes.”

    Many emails were exchanged with gratitude for everyone’s efforts to get this little boat set to sea, including one from Ms. Holly Blair, the lead teacher for SOAH: “We have waited so long and worked so hard on this little boat!  My class of 38 sixth grade girls will be thrilled!  Thank you for your hard work to deploy!  We are so excited about her journey! Thank you for the photos.  The girls will be so happy to see the great care that was taken in deploying The Spirit of Ashley Hall. We will keep you informed of her voyage.”

    This boat is outfitted with air and water temperature sensors reporting hourly.

  • August 2019 - Approaching the UK

    In just over 3.5 months, the Spirit of Ashley Hall sailed into the Celtic Sea and is sailing east towards the UK. Stay tuned…

  • August 20, 2019 - Landed and recovered in the Isles of Scilly (UK)

    The Spirit of Ashley Hall landed in the Isles of Scilly on August 20, 2019. Emails and Facebook messages were sent to try and find someone who could recover her. Bruce Frank posted a picture for us and noted, “White Island this afternoon. Searched where it landed (on the left hand side in this picture, left), but told on my way back up that it was recovered by someone this morning!”

    The Spirit of Ashley Hall miniboat towed behind the Moon Dance around the Isles of Scilly

    Robin Mawer posted this note: “It went ashore in the night or this morning on the rocky shore of White Island (north of St. Martins Isles of Scilly). I told my son David Mawer who went round in his yacht and recovered it off the rocks… It looks from another comment on here that he has it in tow behind him now!” and sure enough we found the picture with the Spirit of Ashley Hall in tow behind the Moon Dance (see picture to the right).

    Back in South Carolina, the students at Ashley Hall had their first day back to school on August 21 and heard this announcement at the morning assembly!

    Found hardly scratched after its sail across the Atlantic, now safe at school on St Martins

    Later that day, we received an email from Ms. Marshall who wrote: “Hello! I am the school teacher on St Martins in the Isles of Scilly and I have your boat at my school! It was recovered just off our island and brought to me. We are a tiny base of only 15 primary (4-11 years old) children but part of the larger school which consists of 240 pupils spread across 5 islands!”. She also noted, “What an epic journey for such a little boat. We have all been excited to see it recovered when we heard about it!”

    The first sighting of the SoAH on land

    While arrangements are being made to share the story and connect classrooms across the Atlantic, the finder, Dave Mawer, sent us an email on August 22 with pictures and videos from the recovery! He said “here are some of the photos of my son Ahab and me collecting SoAH from White Island and then towing her behind Moon Dance (not dancer) to Higher Town and on to Little Bay. A couple of litres of water came out from the joint between the deck and the hull at the stern and there were goose barnacles living on the hull.”

    He also sent the GPS track from his handheld GPS which shows the SoAH adventures beyond recovery. Looks like the miniboat was recovered around 11:15Z, only 5 hours after it landed!

    Bruce Frank, our friend on Facebook we mentioned earlier, sent us some information by email later on for the students in South Carolina about St Martins and the Isles of Scilly: “White Island is a beautiful uninhabited island which is attached to St Martin’s by a half-tide bar. I’d gone over the bar to look for the Spirit of Ashley Hall after the skipper of the local lifeboat had suggested I get our boys down there to look for it! I didn’t know it had already been found a few hours earlier! It’s really lucky that the weather was pretty calm when it came up on the rocks or it could have been destroyed.

    St Martin’s is one of the five inhabited Isles of Scilly, which are located about 30 miles off the south-west tip of Cornwall. There are around 112 people living all year round on St Martin’s, plus a few others who come and go, finding seasonal work at the flower farm, hotel and other small businesses. My wife Jan and I run St Martin’s Stores & Post Office and I also deliver the post 3 days a week. We have three children… I hope this info is of interest to the children at Ashley Hall. Ben and Tom are looking forward to seeing the Spirit of Ashley Hall when the school term starts again in a few days time!” Ben and Tom are two of his children who will be starting school September 5 in St Martins to see the miniboat hatch opened! His other child attends the secondary school on St Marys where the miniboat is likely to also travel to… the more students involved the better!


    On this first voyage of the Spirit of Ashley Hall, she sailed for 10,314 km (5,569 nm) in 118 days. In a straight line the distance was only 5,220 km (2,819 nm). She averaged a speed of 1.93 knots and was fastest on April 27, 2019 when she was clocked at sailing 5.21 knots (into the Gulf Stream!). She is also the first miniboat to successfully collect data from sensors during her entire voyage! We will be analyzing the data soon.

  • September 5, 2019 - SOAH at St Martin's Base

    The students at St Martin’s Base started school on September 5. To their delightful surprise, they got to hear about the Spirit of Ashley Hall recovery that happened only weeks before.

    Here are some pictures of the students saying hello to the students in Charleston:

    Ms. Jackie Marshall, the teacher at St Martin’s Base, said on September 5 that ” on Monday the students plan to have a boat related day where they will look at the website and the boat’s travels, have a go at making some boats that float out of recycled materials. We also hope soon to write you some letters and tell you all about ourselves!”

    Arrangements are being made to open the hatch via video conference with the students in South Carolina on September 24, 2019.

  • September 24, 2019 - Hatch Reveal LIVE across the Atlantic

    The miniboat Spirit of Ashley Hall sailed from the US to UK in 118 days with treasures stored inside from the students of Ashley Hall in Charleston, SC, who built the boat. This special “message in a bottle” washed up in the Isles of Scilly in August, and the students from the Five Islands are going to open it up and see what’s inside!

    The hatch was opened via video conference and streamed on Facebook LIVE on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 10:30am Eastern/14:30 GMT.

  • November 2019 - Transferred to the island of St. Marys

    The Spirit of Ashley Hall miniboat was transported on November 22 to the island of St Marys to visit the secondary school where she will be assessed, repaired if needed, and hopefully sent back out – but not before the students connect and learn more from each other!

    A note (with pictures below) from Ms. Marshall on November 22 reads, “The Spirit was picked up this morning and should be on St Marys by now! It was collected by one of our parents on his quad bike and then taken on our local freight boat to St Marys where it will be delivered up to the school there either today or Monday!”

    On November 27, we heard from the STEM Club with the picture below: “We have just had our first STEM club with your boat, and we are amazed how it has managed to reach us. We have had a good look at the structure and potential damage and will look at how we will remedy and refurbish it to the best of our ability.”

Data Access

This boat has air and water temperature sensors that have reported hourly with its position.

To see miniboat tracks in our Path Analysis Tool, click here: