The Gulf Stream and Mini-boats

October 25, 2020

Author: Sean S. Bercaw, Captain

Mini-boats on CC’s Quarterdeck

Mini-boats on CC’s Quarterdeck

Ship's Log

Present Location
37° 30.2’ N x 068° 08.6’ W

Ship’s Heading, Speed and Sail plan
220o psc; 8.5 knots; Beam-Reaching under the Four Lowers (i.e. Jib, two Stays’ls & Reefed Main) and JT

Easterly breeze, with cloudy skies and tropical squalls about

Gulf Stream ho!!

Last evening we sailed into the Gulf Stream and entered a current flowing briskly to the East at better than 3-knots. Fortunately we had beautiful sailing conditions and in effect “ferried” across the oceanic river, our track (direction of travel over the bottom) the result of our vessel’s course through the water and the current’s direction of flow. By this morning’s scientific station we had traversed the stream and found ourselves on the southern edge.

Mini-boat underway

Mini-boat underway

Just prior to Cramer’s October 10th Woods Hole departure, SEA was contacted with a request to launch Mini-boats into the Gulf Stream. Two middle schools, Rye Jr. High in Rye, NH and JFK Middle School in Northhampton, MA (our own First Assistant Scientist Jordan Eckstein is an alum) had built Mini-boats that were waiting to be launched. The program is run by NOAA and the non-profit Educational Passages. As their literature states, “Students around the world prepare, deploy and track their very own miniboat (a five-foot long unmanned sailboat) while learning about ocean currents, weather, technology and more. Equipped with a GPS transmitter, they typically cross the ocean in several months driven by the wind and currents. When the boats land, students create transoceanic classrooms, connecting with different nations and cultures around the world.” It is difficult to find a vessel venturing the several hundred miles offshore, and when the organizers heard of Corwith Cramer’s intended cruise track they jumped at the opportunity to have their vessels carried out and launched into the Gulf Stream.

ADCP trace at mini-boat launch

ADCP trace at mini-boat launch

This morning I assisted Craig Marin, the Maritime Studies faculty, in making final assembly preparations for the Mini-boats deployment. We wanted to launch the vessels into the center of the Gulf Stream so after the science station we back-tracked 15-miles to the strongest portion of the current and hove-to upon arrival. With cheers and a hearty farewell, the two mini-boats were released into the brisk winds and charged off, beginning their individual journeys to distant shores. [being tracked at: and]. Our ability to assist land-locked middle school students in their study of the ocean was an apt compliment to SEA’s mission and an enterprise that we were all proud to undertake.

- Captain Sean S. Bercaw

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 |

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