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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 Photo: 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.”

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