After 87 days at sea, a low-grade heist, and 11 school classes, Geoforce is proud to say The Alexander miniboat is now a part of the Geoforce Permanent Collection (our 12th story museum) next to that enormous buoy I keep banging on about. (Can ya blame me? That tracker was underwater 96 days and worked immediately upon recovery).
Now there’s a new kid in town…
For those that don’t know, on June 25, 2020, Geoforce began tracking the transatlantic voyage of The Alexander, a 2-meter unmanned sailboat built by students at the United Technologies Center in Bangor, ME. They wanted to study how their boat sailed the Gulf Stream -across the North Atlantic in winter- from Maine to Ireland or England.
Geoforce used this opportunity to showcase the toughness of its GT0 satellite asset tracker and provided a free Track and Trace subscription. That way, all involved could see Alexander’s location, updated every four hours.
After two false starts, Alexander launched into the Gulf Stream on the last day of 2020.
After 87 days at sea, she eventually crashed landed near Brest, France, next to ENSTA, a local engineering school with a world-class miniboat program. ENSTA was only 4.4 miles away from the landfall site. Not bad sailing, Alexander!
ENSTA’s Fabrice Le Bar’s diagnosis was brutal: “the keel has been ripped off, the mast is broken in three pieces, and the deck is almost completely separated from the hull. What looks like a rugged GPS tracker seems however intact.”
Deeming Alexander irreparable, Fabrice gave her to Charlene Feucher, a doctoral Research Fellow at IFREMER. In her spare time, Charlene teaches schoolkids about the oceans. She had mentioned miniboats before and hoped to show them one someday.
This was a golden opportunity. So, Charlene scheduled miniboat presentations to schoolchildren in Saint Lunaire, taking Alexander right into the classrooms. The kids loved it so much other teachers asked for presentations as well. In all, Charlene gave 11 presentations to over 100 kids across two different schools. Maybe one of them will be an oceanographer someday.
But what to do with Alexander after that? While technically a “miniboat”, she’s still two meters long. That takes up a lot of space in a garage or driveway.
That’s when Geoforce pounced offered a home for Alexander.
We notified Aeronet, our crazy/special projects shipping partner, to take delivery of Alexander at Charlene’s home, crate her up (Alexander, not Charlene), and bring her to Texas.
Breaking open Aeronet’s crate was like exhuming a mummy. Real Raiders of the Lost Ark stuff there, but nobody’s face melted, and that’s a good Monday at Geoforce. Just ask HR.
And so ends our story: ‘Alex is now part of The Geoforce Permanent Collection, our 12th story boardroom/museum. If you’re ever in Dallas/Fort Worth, head north to Plano and look up Geoforce. You’ve suffered through read enough of these blogs, so you’re like family now. Drop by and visit ‘Alexander anytime in her forever home.
And she wouldn’t have made it here if not for hard-working students, kindly mentors, satellites in freakin’ outer space, tough-as-nails lobster fisherman, selfless volunteers, surfers with hearts of gold, teachers, oceanographers of all ages, and so, so many other wonderful people.
…and did I mention we get to do this all over again in the Southern Ocean?
We’ll keep you posted.
Jay Karlson is a Senior Product Manager at Geoforce.