Pupils of Drumgallagh NS with the small sailing boat.

Small sailing boat from US docks in Mayo school

WE'VE all heard about messages in a bottle thrown out to sea, but pupils in a Mayo school have received hand-written notes from America that arrived in a small sailing vessel that beached nearby.

On October 12, small vessel The Harbor View Elementary School Cruiser, from Charleston on the south-east coast of the USA, was discovered on the shores of Fahy in Ballycroy.

The boat is approximately one metre long, with a small sail, and it arrived on the Mayo shoreline in great condition despite its treacherous sea journey across the Atlantic Ocean, travelling in the Gulf Stream.

Research on the internet indicated that the US Coast Guard helped launch the boat on May 10 last. It had spent 154 days and 12 hours at sea. The boat had a GPS tracking system that followed its progress.

The vessel was taken to Drumgallagh National School in Ballycroy by Ethan and John Conway, whose dad found the boat.

Pupils at the school were extremely excited to discover and examine the contents of a waterproof compartment. Inside was a painting of the Charleston flag, a keyring, some coins and some handwritten notes from children from the school.

Drumgallagh NS has contacted those in America who launched the boat to report its safe landing by email.

The boat is now on display in Drumgallagh National School, Ballycroy.

The students on the other side of the Atlantic have been following their boat's progress over the past few months, with an online blog.

Near the end of July, the boat approached the southeast corner of Newfoundland, Canada, but sailed on by.

Several months later, in early October, as landfall looked eminent, emails were exchanged with colleagues in Ireland.

On the morning of October 11 the boat was reporting from the shore of remote island Duvilluan More. With only one or two buildings on the rocky island, it seemed likely the story was over, but later that same day she reported underway and en route to the mainland.

The following morning she was reporting from a sandy beach in sparsely populated Ballycroy. Later in the day, she was several miles inland, heading up the N59, and a few days later, started reporting from what appeared to be a school.

School principal Mary Calvey confirmed by email the boat's location and the excitement its arrival has created.