In August, Nikki Hills, Seaford Community Wildlife Project Officer, had an intriguing message about a miniature sailing boat washing up under the cliffs at Seaford Head. It seemed that the five foot craft called Red Storm, was launched by schoolchildren off the coast of Maine, USA in May 2018, and washed ashore at Seaford Head three months later - after a journey of 3,000 miles.
Nikki says, “Someone in France, who had been tracking the GPS signal, called the Trust to say a miniature boat had landed at Seaford Head, asking if we could look for it. So I went along with my colleague Sam Roberts and we eventually found it under the cliffs. We carried it over the rocks to the car.”
Information inscribed on the boat, in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish, took Nikki to this website. The boat had been launched by Scarborough School, Maine, USA, as part of a project studying world exploration and how communities evolve.
The boat has since been stored at Cradle Hill Community Primary School in Seaford. Nikki arranged with head teacher Andrea Keith to speak to Year Three pupils, 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 is otherwise powered only by tidal currents. Its GPS tracking system feeds back information to the school website.
The American children were thrilled that their boat survived the journey, and is now in an English school. They have sent a parcel of presents, 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 are now thinking about their answers and, with Nikki’s help, will report back about our local marine life as well as creating their own list of questions, creating a educational and cultural exchange.
Picture shows Andrea Keith, Head Teacher of Cradle Hill Community Primary School (back row left) and Nikki Hills, with Year Three pupils
So what now for the Red Storm? Nikki says: “We’re excited to be planning what happens next...”
Nikki Hill’s work for Seaford Community Wildlife Project has been made possible thanks to a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).