Miniboat 2021: From “Nope!” to “Hope”

Alexander’s track in the Atlantic Ocean. 

On June 25, 2020, Geoforce began tracking the progress of the Alexander, a 2-meter unmanned sailboat built by students at the United Technologies Center in Bangor, ME and aided by computer models developed at the University of Maine. The goal was to launch Alexander into the Atlantic Ocean with Geoforce’s GT0 Asset Tracker, catch the Gulf Stream, make landfall in Europe, and have the kids learn about the ocean and its currents through our asset tracking software.

Catch the punchline? I threw it in early: June 25, 2020.

Alex took one look at 2020, gave it a big ‘ole “NOPE!” and returned home twice, making TWO landfalls after TWO launches, always making sure to hide out on one of Maine’s islands. Luckily,  Geoforce’s Track and Trace asset tracking software was able to keep everyone aware of Alex’s “slacking” via an online map update every four hours. This ain’t a Snicker’s ad, Alex. If you “wanna get away” from Geoforce, you’ll have to sail off the planet.

But when you think about it, do you really  blame Alex? Would you sail the North Atlantic instead of summering in Maine instead? In 2020?

Mental Note: If you must get shipwrecked, do it on the Maine islands. Long Island school kids gave Alexander the rock star treatment, taking selfies and signing their names on his hull. And he received plenty of TLC after his second landfall on a rocky patch of Chebeague Island as well. Each time lovely people arranged to relaunch or retrieve Alexander with no thought of expense or payment. Make landfall in my backyard, and it’s straight to eBay.

Seriously, if Gilligan and his pals had shipwrecked on a Maine island, the pilot episode would have been resolved by the second commercial break, tops. (RIP Dawn Wells, I had such a crush on you. Don’t tell my wife of 29 years- that’s our anniversary and her “age”).

But third time’s a charm, right?

This time Dick Baldwin took Alexander  to Todd Ellis at Little Bay Lobster, a large offshore lobster fishing company in Newington, NH. With 13 fishing vessels that go way offshore, these sailors weren’t fooling around. They re-launched Alexander off the Grand Banks about 150 miles out, directly into the Gulf Stream on the last day of 2020.

After a little dawdling, Alex saw that 2020 was over and decided to get moving. As of this writing, our Track and Trace software shows Alex is literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf Stream will likely take him past the Azores Islands, an archipelago west of Portugal.

And as a special “thank you” to all the kind people who helped launch or recover Alex, Geoforce is providing a complimentary Read-Only Track and Trace account so they can monitor Alexander’s progress eastward to Europe. Without you, we wouldn’t be here. Again.

We’ll keep you posted.

Jay Karlson is a Senior Product Manager at Geoforce.