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Unmanned ‘Cruiser’ washes ashore in Ballycroy


Anton McNulty

Having survived hurricanes and tropical storms, an unmanned boat sent from a school in South Carolina in May, finally made landfall at the unlikely location off a shore on the Ballycroy coast.
With the help of the US Coast Guard, students from the Harbor View Elementary School in Charleston, South Carolina launched HVES Cruiser on May 10, 2017 as part of an educational experiment to follow ocean currents and winds.
The one metre long vessel was tracked by a GPS and after 155 days of zig-zagging the Atlantic Ocean, it followed the Gulf Stream and on October 12 ended up on the shore in Fahy, Ballycroy.
A local man discovered the boat that day and later brought it to the local Drumgallagh National School, whose students opened up the water-tight compartment. They found a painting of the Charleston flag, a keyring, some coins and some handwritten notes from children from the school.
An email was sent to the Educational Passages Programme, which organised the experiment, to inform them that their vessel had arrived safe and sound on the west coast of Ireland. It read: “Hi all in Charleston. We just want to let you know that your HVES Cruiser has arrived safely in Ballycroy and we have examined the contents in our school today. All of the children are extremely excited. Best Regards Mary Calvey, School Principal”.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Ms Calvey said everyone in the school was excited about the discovery and it was an educational experience for all the children in the two teacher school.
“It is a very interesting story and the children are all very excited about it. It was very educational for the children when they looked at the route the boat took as it followed the Gulf Stream.
“The children have written to the school in America where the boat came from and they told them about where they live in Ballycroy and about the National Park, the Dark Skies and what happens around Ballycroy. They let them know about the area and they are all excited about it,” she explained.
When the boat was launched in May, it travelled up along the east coast of the United States and was caught up in some hurricanes and tropical storms. At the end of July, she approached the southeast corner of Newfoundland, Canada and looked like it would end its journey there, but the wind and the currents forced it east into the Atlantic.
On the morning of Wednesday, October 11, it washed ashore on the uninhabited island of Duvilluan More in Blacksod Bay. Somehow it dislodged itself and continued on its journey past Doohoma Head and washed ashore at Fahy, Ballycroy.
The boat is currently in Drumgallagh NS and Ms Calvey said they are currently waiting to hear from the United States to determine if they will be able to keep the boat or have to return it to South Carolina.