The Rye Riptides, an unmanned sailboat launched by students in New Hampshire, has made it to a Norway beach after more than a year.

The Rye Riptides is a six-foot-long miniature sailboat with a rigid, fixed sail sent off by the students of Rye Junior High in October 2020. Filled with photos, state quarters, and a tracking beacon, the boat was a joint project between the students and Educational Passages, the nonprofit that makes miniboats for just this purpose. Based in Maine, they began working with the school for this release all the way back in 2018.

The tracking device went silent for months at a time, but kept reappearing, tracing a slow, vermiform path across the North Atlantic. The students involved kept track and the boat kept racking up the miles, over 8300 of them.

After over 450 days at sea, the boat appeared to make landfall.

“I was surprised the boat actually made it somewhere,” seventh grader Molly Flynn said. “I thought it was going to get stuck in some middle spot (on the map) and it actually made it, and it was really, really cool and surprising.”

Where Rye Riptides landed was Smøla, a very small island near Dyrnes, Norway. And it was found on the beach there on February 1st by Karel Nuncic, a sixth grade boy. It had lost its keel and most of its hull, and was covered in over a year’s growth of gooseneck barnacles, but the deck, fixed sail, and cargo container were still intact. Nuncic and his parents took it to his school, and he and his classmates opened it together. The fall leaves from October 2019 that students across the ocean had put inside were still dry and crisp.

“When you’re sending it out, you have no idea where it’s going to end up, how it’s going to get there, if it ends up (anywhere) at all,” said Cassie Stymiest, executive director of Educational Passages. “But these kids, they put their hopes and dreams and wishes into it, and I tend to think sometimes that helps.”

Photo: RUBEN M RAMOS / Shutterstock

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