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Miniature Yacht Lancer Is Heading Back To Ireland

28th July 2017
Lancer at sea in the mid Atlantic after its release from the RV Celtic Explorer on 22 April Lancer at sea in the mid Atlantic after its release from the RV Celtic Explorer on 22 April Credit: Marine Institute/YouTube

#Lancer - The unmanned miniature yacht Lancer is heading back to Ireland – and may make landfall in Kerry or Cork within weeks.

The 1.5m boat made the news when it was found washed ashore in Connemara by local girl Méabh Ní Ghionnáin in September 2016 after a four-month transatlantic crossing from Cape Cod, where it was launched on behalf of Connecticut high schooler Kaitlyn Dow.

Before Kaitlyn and Méabh met earlier the year, Lancer was restored to working order by local sea scouts, and was relaunched from the Marine Institute’s marine science vessel RV Celtic Explorer on 22 April in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Three months on, the latest tracking info shows that instead of catching currents that would have taken it either north towards Greenland or south to the Canaries, the mini yacht has found its way back into Irish waters — currently south-west of the Scilly Isles in the Celtic Sea.

The red GPS tracking line shows an interesting pattern in its movements across the ocean over the last three-plus months. The blue line, meanwhile, shows the original path of Lancer when it was launched from the US last year. 

The white line shows a low-tech drifter that Kaitlyn Dow built as part of the NOAA drifters programme but was unfortunately lost at sea.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan said he was delighted that Lancer had made its way back ‘home’.

“This little boat is proving to be a great vessel promoting awareness about our ocean,” he said. :With the Atlantic being the second largest ocean in the world, it is important to increase our awareness of the value, opportunities and societal benefits the ocean provides us. 

“With the Lancer currently positioned over the continental shelf, if it keeps heading towards the south-west coast we hope that it lands safely and provides another group of people the opportunity to meet and learn more about our ocean currents and winds of our seas.”

Lancer is one of a number of mini sailboats launched as part of an Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) ocean literacy partnership to raise awareness of the Atlantic among coastal communities, and our reciprocal impact.

“If people can get the word out that the boat is approaching, maybe someone will see her,” urged Michael O’Connor, Kaitlyn Dow’s science teacher at Waterford High School.

“Instructions on what to do with the Lancer boat are inside.”

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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