Miniature boat washed-up in Sussex after amazing Atlantic journey

Andrea Keith, Head Teacher at Cradle Hill Community Primary School (back row left) and Nikki Hills (back row right) with Year Three pupils and the miniature boat
Andrea Keith, Head Teacher at Cradle Hill Community Primary School (back row left) and Nikki Hills (back row right) with Year Three pupils and the miniature boat

A boat launched by American schoolchildren has been discovered washed-up at Seaford Head.

Nikki Hills, Seaford Community Wildlife Project Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust and her colleague Sam Roberts, found the miniature sailing boat under the cliffs.

It had been launched by schoolchildren off the coast of Maine, USA. The five foot craft called Red Storm left American waters in May, and washed ashore on the Sussex coast three months later, after a journey of 3,000 miles.

Nikki said: “I had an intriguing phone call saying a boat had landed at Seaford Head, asking if I could look for it. Sam and I eventually found it under the cliffs.”

Information inscribed on the boat, in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish, took Nikki to a website. She discovered that the boat was launched by Scarborough School, Maine, as part of a project studying world exploration and how communities evolve.

It has been stored at Cradle Hill Community Primary School, Seaford, and Nikki went to speak to Year Three pupils in Sea Otter, Penguin and Turtle classes, a similar age to their American counterparts, to talk about its journey and why it was launched.

Nikki explained that Red Storm, named after the Maine school football team, has a small sail, but otherwise has been powered only by tidal currents. It is fitted with a GPS tracking system, feeding back information of its whereabouts to the school website.

The American children were thrilled that their boat survived the journey to Sussex waters, and is now in an English school.

They sent a parcel of presents to their Seaford counterparts, including postcards of Scarborough USA, illustrations of marine wildlife typical of Maine, and photos of themselves. They also asked questions, such as: “What do you eat for dinner? Do you wear uniforms?” and “What’s the weather like there?”

The Cradle Hill pupils will now compile answers, and, with Nikki’s help, report back about local marine life, as well as creating their own list of questions, leading to a new friendship and exchange between the two countries.

So what’s next for the Red Storm? Nikki said: “We’re excited to be planning the next stage of Red Storm’s journey, which is currently under discussion with everyone involved.”