Harvard Kent, Constitution Museum mini-boat found in Canada
Though bound for Europe, the HK Pride mini-boat has made a pitstop on one of the most remote coastlines in Newfoundland – and the five-foot boat built by Charlestown fourth graders in early 2020 is all the rage north of the border.
Emily Bryant, education director at the USS Constitution Museum, said the boats were part of an education partnership with the Harvard Kent in early 2020, and fourth graders at the time assembled two five-foot mini sail boats from January to March 2020. They had finished just prior to COVID-19 closures.
Last week, after being released in May 2021 off the coast of North Carolina, one of the boats – the HK Pride – was pushed off course by Tropical Storm Elsa and landed on one of the more remote parts of the Newfoundland coastline.
“For 75 days both boats travelled up the Eastern seaboard and we tracked them because there is a tracking device on them that is connected to a tracking website,” said Bryant. “We expected they would make it to Europe because that’s where the Gulf Stream goes. That was the goal. About a couple weeks ago Tropical Storm Elsa knocked them both out of the Gulf Stream and they began to travel towards Newfoundland. HK Pride made landfall on July 18 at a remote cove in Newfoundland. We took to social media and hoped that someone there might get word of it and go out and retrieve the boat.”
Enter John and Sherrie Fever, of the very off-the-grid town of McCallum – a fishing village of about 30 people only accessible by boat.
Feaver heard about the mini-boat on social media from a relative, and said everyone in their town was excited. “We were going to try yesterday but it was a bit windy,” she said in an interview with the Canadian Press on July 22. “I didn’t even sleep last night because I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I wonder where we’ll find it.’”
Bryant said that later on July 22, John and Sherrie Feaver set out and found the HK Pride on a rocky beach in Kent Cove.
“The great thing about Canada is they all rallied around this,” said Bryant. “They got the boat and the government Department of Marine Fisheries picked up the boat on Tuesday and will take it to a populated area. They will get some students there to come and open up the boat. The Harvard Kent students left a message in a bottle in the boat and we’d love for Canadian students to open it up. The goal will eventually be to get the HK Pride back out into the Gulf Stream and we believe the Canadian government will help us with that.”
HK Pride is currently in the town of Hermitage, awaiting Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans to take possession. Hermitage is a small town on the south coast of Newfoundland, Canada. USS Constitution Museum is contacting schools in and near the area to work with educators and potentially students to relaunch HK Pride on its journey.
In a fortuitous twist in keeping with this “message in a bottle”-type of outcome, both miniboatsactually contain messages from the Harvard-Kent students, and the students who send HK Pride back to sea will get to add their own as well.
“We are so thankful for the efforts of Sherrie, John, the people of McCallum and Hermitage, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans,” said Emily Bryant, Education Manager at the USS Constitution Museum. “With their support, we look forward to relaunching HK Pride on her journey.”
Bryant said she believes the HK Pride has experienced some really good luck. That’s probably because of the christening that was given to the boat in October by the USS Constitution sailors and the Harvard Kent students, and also the care taken when they were released in North Carolina by a crew there.
“You never know what will happen to a boat when you launch it,” she said. “It could overturn, not report on the tracker or just come back to shore. It has been out at sea for 75 days and is still reporting and made it through a tropical storm and landed upright on a very rocky coastline and didn’t get smashed. I’d say it has some good luck going with it.”
The second boat, Tea Turtle, is still sailing out at sea, said Bryant. While it was also headed towards Nova Scotia, a cold front emerged and pushed it back out to sea this week. It is now being tracked as it sails in the open ocean eastward.
Bryant said with the excitement of the program now, they hope to continue the mini-boat building and oceanography partnership with the Harvard Kent this coming school year as well.
To track the boat, go to www.usscm.org/miniboats.