Norwegian Student Discovers Boat Set Afloat by New Hampshire Students 8,000 Miles Away

What remained of the Rye Riptides when it at last washed ashore after 8,000 miles at sea. (Photo: screenshot via Educational Passages)

Though traveling the world became more difficult since the pandemc closed borders and raised risks in 2020, some young adventurers found a way to explore the world and connect with other cultures while remaining safely at home. Several classes of fifth graders from Rye Junior High School in New Hampshire spent two years crafting a small boat filled with mementos and loaded with a GPS tracker. Launched on October 25, 2020, the boat spent over a year at sea—eventually arriving on the rocky coast of an island in Norway.

The intrepid little vessel measures only 5.5 feet long and consists of a mast, hull, and keel. In 2018, a fifth-grade teacher at Rye Junior High School purchased the boat kit from the “mini boat” program created by Educational Passages. The organization seeks to educate children about our oceans while providing an opportunity to build and decorate their own boat. Once a boat is completed, Educational Passages launches it. Each boat is equipped with GPS so that the students can track it, wherever it drifts.

Mini Boat GPS Path

The GPS path of the mini-boat Rye Riptides. (Photo: screenshot via Educational Passages)

COVID-19 interrupted the construction of the Rye Junior High School boat—named Rye Riptides— but Educational Passages executive director Cassie Stymiest stepped in to help. Students sent their decorations to Stymiest, who affixed the finishing touches. In October 2020, the boat was launched into the Atlantic Ocean with the students watching over Facebook.

Shortly thereafter, the GPS pings started coming in. Rye Riptides traveled along the Gulf Stream, a powerful ocean current, for 462 days. After September 30, 2021, the boat stopped pinging, possibly indicating it had been destroyed. The children and Educational Passages had almost given up on the tiny craft when on January 31, 2022 a final ping registered. Rye Riptides had landed at last after a journey of 8,000 miles in Smøla, Norway.

Stymiest began searching for a local resident to retrieve the boat. Mariann Nuncic and her son Karel, a sixth grader, happened to live nearby. They retrieved what was left of the now barnacle-covered Rye Riptide. The mast and hull were lost, but the capsule of mementos remained. Karel took the boat to his class to open it. Inside, the students discovered leaves, U.S. quarters, and an autographed face mask.

After a long journey, the Rye Riptide has brought two classes of young people from different countries together. Its now sixth- and seventh-grade creators are excited about the boat's successful journey. They even plan to Zoom with their new Norwegian friends.

To learn more about the Rye Riptide and other amazing mini-boat journeys, check out Education Passages' website.

Fifth graders in New Hampshire built and launched a mini-boat which then traveled over 8,000 miles to wind up in Norway.

h/t: [CNN, NPR]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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