US experiment boat reaches SW

Nicolette BarbasSouth Western Times
Australind Primary School principal Darrin Tinley and Year 3 students Reece Wilmot-Silva, Indie Anderson and Jax Carle were amazed by the boat that teacher Carol Smith found washed up on shore.
Camera IconAustralind Primary School principal Darrin Tinley and Year 3 students Reece Wilmot-Silva, Indie Anderson and Jax Carle were amazed by the boat that teacher Carol Smith found washed up on shore. Credit: Nicolette Barbas

When Dalyellup residents Carol and Brian Smith decided to go for a walk along a nearby beach on Saturday afternoon, they did not expect to stumble upon a highly sought after research boat.

After 463 days at sea, the Sacred Heart Star of The Sea mini boat washed ashore on Dalyellup Beach, filled with letters from students in Massachusetts and rock from the bottom of the sea floor.

“Initially when I saw the boat I thought “this looks important” especially because of the way it had been bolted up,” Mrs Smith said.

“I took it home and did some research and found out the boat was part of an educational project that students from Scared Heart School in Kingston, Massachusetts, took part in February last year.”

A GPS and satellite had been fixed to the mini boat which was then launched off a research boat south of Madagascar in March.

A map of the path the boat travelled
Camera IconA map of the path the boat travelled

“Since contacting the Educational Partnerships website on Saturday night we have been inundated with emails, we didn’t realise just how many people were looking for the mini boat,” Mrs Smith said.

“A scientist from the ship, the school teacher from Massachusetts and a Bunbury city councillor were all curious to hear the story of how we found it.”

Mrs Smith said for the moment the boat would stay at Australind Primary School where she teaches.

“When we opened up the boat we found about 50 letters written by school students from Sacred Heart all still in tact due to water tight protection,” she said.

“I think some of the students here are keen to respond to the letters and who knows, maybe some pen pals and friendships will stem from this.

“There are some scientists in Fremantle who are also interested in it and I think they will come and collect it once it has done the rounds at other schools in Bunbury.”

When the boat returns to Perth it will be relaunched and tracked to see where it goes again.

“These research boats are being sent off from the US and tracked along their journey at least once a year,” Mrs Smith said.

“This is the first time one of them has made it to Australia and to see it washed up in the South West was just such a great discovery.”

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