The miniboat program sends kits to students to help them learn things like science, technology, engineering, art, and math skills as well as building connections, Educational Passage’s executive director, Cassie Stymiest, told CNN on Tuesday.
The boat kit was originally purchased in 2018 by a now-retired teacher and each of her fifth-grade classes worked together to build it since then, according to Stymiest.
When the pandemic prevented this year’s class from finishing the decorating process, Stymiest volunteered to help out. Students sent their decorations to her and she put the finishing touches on the vessel, which they named Rye Riptides. On launch day, the students watched Riptides set off on Facebook Live.
But, on January 31, she noticed the location had changed. Riptides had landed on the coast of Smøla, Norway.
She immediately took to social media to reach out to the local community about retrieving the vessel. Then, on February 1, Mariann Nuncic responded that the boat was on an island near her house.
That afternoon, when her son, Karel, got home from school, the Nuncic’s got in their boat and searched the coast to find what was left of the miniboat.
And find it they did — Riptides was covered in Gooseneck barnacles, had lost its mast, and its hull and keel were no longer attached, but its precious cargo was still safe.
The Rye Junior High students, who were now in sixth and seventh grade, were excited to hear about the recovery, Stymiest said.
The two classes are eager to meet each other and will do so on Thursday through Zoom, Stymiest said.
Going from New Hampshire to Smøla may seem like a lengthy journey for such a small boat, but Stymiest said it isn’t their longest. That award goes to a vessel sent from Massachusetts that landed in Australia.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the ocean where the boat sailed. It was the Atlantic.