The Atlantic Flame

The Atlantic Flame


After 16 months at sea The Atlantic Flame came ashore in Contis, France!

Greenwood Mennonite School and Vanderwende Farm Creamery launched the GPS tracked sailboat in May 2016

To celebrate the landfall, an all-school assembly was held with Vanderwende’s Ice Cream for everyone!

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GMS J-term class crafted a mini-boat, launched it into the Atlantic, and is tracking its whereabouts It is sponsored by their local Vanderwende Farm Creamery.

The Greenwood Mennonite School (GMS) in Delaware built a miniboat as a part of Duane Miller's high school J-Term class. Ten young men participated in the building and have named it the Atlantic Flame. After waiting a few days for some easterly winds to pass, she was launched on the afternoon of 19 April 2016, about 11 miles off the coast of Indian River Inlet but, unfortuantely, the easterlies cam


We received word today that our little boat is now on display at a school in Mimizan, France. It is great to see her cleaned up and on display! Stay tuned for updates.

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 18/09/2017


This morning we received a very exciting email from France. Using Google translate we found that it said:

Hello, today, Sunday, September 17, 2017, on the beach between Mimizan and Contis (France), I found your boat. It is damaged at the front, there was a hole…….and it was full of water. There was inside what I think is a GPS unit……, a US flag, a t-shirt, a scarf and a few dollars. I picked up all the items, but I left the boat on the beach.
What should I do? Jean Bernard DUPRAT

The GMS/Vanderwende Farm Creamery Atlantic Flame was launched in May, 2016, 16 months ago. The onboard GPS pinged twice each day until March of 2017 and then went silent. For the past six months we have wondered what became of our little boat. Today we found out that she did in fact successfully cross the ocean, but now we have lots of other unanswered questions; How did the mast get torn off? How did it stay afloat when it was full of water? Where all did she wander before reaching the French coast? Most of these questions will likely never be answered.

We have asked the finder to retrieve the boat, and he hopes to do so tomorrow. We hope that it will be taken to a local school and that they will be able to join us in learning from the project. Some similar boats have been repaired and relaunched but we don’t know if the damage is too extensive for that or not.

We held an all-school assembly today to celebrate the landfall. Vanderwende’s Ice Cream was served and enjoyed by all!


Hoping for a phone call or email.

The Flame has not pinged now for over 3 weeks. We aren't sure what this means but are hoping for the best. The best scenario at this point is that the battery failed for some reason and the Flame is still sailing just fine. If that is the case, we hope that she will make landfall soon and be found.

When it last pinged on March 27, the Flame was 200 miles from Spain and 205 miles from France. Over the past 3 weeks the winds have varied of course, but have mostly been from the east which would not push the boat ashore. Without another ping, however, it is just a guessing game.

The Flame has been on the water just two weeks shy of one year! Let's hope she makes landfall soon and we get that email or phone call!


The Flame Has Us a Little Worried

About a month ago our little boat did not ping for over 24 hours. It then resumed pinging as normal. Then a week or so later it did this again. We really don't have any way to know if this is a transmitter problem or something else. The transmitter is supposed to keep pinging for at least two years, but as we all know, batteries can fail before they are predicted to do so.

At this point we have not seen a ping since March 27, one week ago today. At that point she was 200 miles from Spain, 280 miles from England, and 205 miles from France. The winds over the past week have been favorable for pushing her towards a landing on either France or England but because we haven't seen any pings, we don't know where she is exactly.

We are hoping that the pings resume soon and maybe a landfall is in the near future. One month from tomorrow will mark the 1 year anniversary of her launch from the MV Bermuda Islander.

Educational Passages Boat deployed in Early 2016 05/03/2017

I've learned not to get too excited with a little progress but she is moving in the right direction and the winds are in an excellent pattern at the moment. Check out the track and the winds at the links below. Duane Miller /wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=-36.51,36.72,440

Educational Passages Boat deployed in Early 2016 Osprey, (ID 166390753, ESN 1367249) "Sheilds_Surfer" Delaware Pilots w/AP3 ESN 565060 Carolina Dreamer from St. Andrews School of Math and Science from Charlestown, SC w/ESN 746258 and 1351495 (originally deployed off South Carolina in 2014)

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 03/03/2017

10 Month Update!

Where is our little boat? That is a question people continue to ask. Tomorrow marks 10 months at sea, she did great for the first few months and then started wandering. Her current location is 301 miles from England, 216 miles from Spain, 264 miles from France, and 3297 miles from home. We still have high hopes that she will eventually reach the European coast but we just don't know when.

The "Florida boat" that we sailed along side of for a time has had even worse luck. Whie the Flame is still pinging consistently twice each day, the SS DCA Eagles has only pinged a few times in the past couple of months. The most recent ping was on Feb 27 and showed the Eagles boat to be about 300 miles behind the Flame from GMS.

Winds continue to change every few days off the coast of Europe, as of this morning they are moderate and from the south. I wish I had actual pictures of the boat to show but for now we will have to settle with tracking pictures.


The Flame continues her wanderings. Currently headed north and as of 8:42 this morning these are the numbers:
Distance to:
England 356 mi
Spain 289 mi
Ireland 346 mi
France 356 mi
home 3179 mi


Making Progress!

In the past week the Flame has moved about 150 miles closer to England. The closest land is the Spanish coast but the winds are quite strong from the south, toward Ireland and England

Current position, 278 miles from Spain, 415 miles from England, 383 miles from Ireland.


The Flame traveled about 40 miles north over the past couple of days. I am really excited about the strong northerly flow of air that it is experiencing at the moment. Maybe............this will result in a chance at a landing when the wind changes, as it always does, and comes from the west. Stay tuned for updates soon.

Current position, 351 miles from Spain, 571 miles from England.


Flame position update:

Distance from:

Spain: 340 miles
England: 608 miles
France: 591 miles
Ireland: 521 miles

Distance from home: 3067 miles

It traveled about 8 miles west overnight last night. The wind is not in her favor.


Update on the Flame for January 12:

The most likely places for the Flame to eventually land are Spain, England, France, or Ireland. Below you will see the current distance to each of them and the distance from home according to the latest ping.

Spain: 313 miles
England: 532 miles
France: 509 miles
Ireland: 454 miles

Distance from home: 3091 miles

Winds are currently out of the north pushing towards Spain or Portugal.

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 25/12/2016

Merry Christmas!

Lots of people have been asking me about "the little GMS boat" and wondering what happened to it, so here are the answers to some FAQs (questions implied):

1. Yes, The Atlantic Flame is still sailing the high seas.
2. No, it hasn't reached land yet.
3. It is now about 200 miles off the coast of Spain.
4. No, it's not been a lot longer than expected. Some boats make it across in a few months, others have been out there for years. I don't know the actual average but would say that anywhere from 4 - 10 months is normal.The Flame was launched on May 5, not quite 8 months ago.
5. It is still pinging every morning and evening.
6. We still have no idea when or where it may land. If the winds remain as they are right now it may hit Spain in the next week or so, but we've thought that before and the winds shifted and back out to sea she went.

Below are a few pictures, one of the boat before launch, one of the track of The Flame for the past month or two (she has been wandering for sure!), and the last is of the winds at this time with the location of The Flame marked with a green circle.

You can follow The Flame for yourself at or you can get an update about once a week by following the Atlantic Flame page.

Once again, Merry Christmas to everyone!

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 16/12/2016

This is a copy of an interesting email that I received earlier today.

Hello all.

Just to keep you aware that a new exciting weekend is approaching with the uncertainty if Canarias II miniboat will be able to sail through the reefs located in the middle of the Caribbean to which it's quickly approaching. Hopefully it will be able to follow its way to Florida strait. In any case, please, keep fingers crossed.

Best wishes.

Atlantic Flame (Voyage II) - Educational Passages 12/12/2016

Six months and wandering. As of last monday, The Flame has been on the water for 6 months. It made great time for the first 2 months and then slowed for the next two. Now during the last two months she has been wandering the ocean off the coast of Europe. She currently sits about 350 miles off the coast of Spain and is headed in a northerly direction. You can follow the track here:

On a side note, the DCA Eagles boat from Florida has not "pinged" since November 22. It seems likely that it has either the onboard GPS unit has developed a problem and has stopped sending a signal, or, maybe the boat itself has encountered a problem and has gone down. We hope that it starts pinging again soon.

Atlantic Flame (Voyage II) - Educational Passages The Greenwood Mennonite School (GMS) in Delaware built a miniboat as a part of Duane Miller’s high school J-Term class. Ten young men participated in the building and have named it the Atlantic Flame. It is sponsored by their local Vanderwende Farm Creamery.

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 02/12/2016

According to Ephesians, The Flame is acting like an infant: "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind.......". It has definitely been blown about in all directions. A video of her being tossed by the waves would be very interesting. Here are the updated pictures of the progress or lack thereof:

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 17/11/2016

Finally some good news! The Flame has taken a turn back towards Europe after wandering for weeks. Lets hope the winds keep blowing strong from the west as they are now.

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 09/11/2016

A few weeks ago The Flame moved to within 150 miles of the French coast. It then caught winds to the west and is now about 550 miles off the coast. The good news is that the winds have finally changed and are now from the west, pushing us back towards the coast of Spain and France once again.

PS. Thanks again to our sponsors,Vanderwende Farm Creamery. We have been enjoying their new location just west of Greenwood on Rt. 16. Delicious!!

Timeline photos 03/11/2016

The Flame is in an awful wind pattern at the moment. We are now about 525 miles off the coast and heading southwest, the opposite of what we would be hoping for. Below is a screenshot of the entire journey so far on the newly designed webpage.

Timeline photos 29/10/2016

That's The Flame in light purple, still wandering.

Timeline photos 19/10/2016

Hurricane Nicole

On October 1 the Flame made it's closest approach to land when it was about 150 miles from the coast of France. In the almost three weeks since, it has been wandering about as you can see in the picture below. It is now being affected by what is left of former hurricane Nicole as it passes by to the west. Winds are currently from the north but are predicted to shift and come from the south soon. The boat is now about 170 miles from both England and France and a little further than that from Ireland.

To keep up with the Flame each day, go to:

Educational Passages Boat deployed in Early 2016 03/10/2016

False Alarm

The winds have shifted again and the Flame is now headed north. You can track it yourself at:

The Flame pings each day at about 8:30 am and again at about 8:30 pm.

You can also see current wind conditions at: /wind/surface/level/orthographic=-5.28,47.98,1552/loc=-7.011,46.970

Winds are updated about every 3 hours.

Educational Passages Boat deployed in Early 2016 Osprey, (ID 166390753, ESN 1367249) Carolina Dreamer from St. Andrews School of Math and Science from Charlestown, SC w/ESN 746258 and 1351495 (originally deployed off South Carolina in 2014)

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 01/10/2016

Inching towards France

It appears that France is now the likely landing point for the Flame. We are under 150 miles from Point du Raz, one of the westernmost points in France. Will the winds push it ashore next week? Stay tuned.

We ran a contest at the end of last school year to predict when the Flame would make landfall. Here are the students that chose dates in early October:

Oct 1 Dylan T.
Oct 5 Cody Z.
Joseph W.
Nevin Y.
Oct 7 Dustin
Oct 10 Jude
Kelsey J.
Oct 12 Maddie W.
Andrew B.
Oct 14 Andrew Ab.
Oct 15 Olivia S.

Timeline photos 23/09/2016

The Flame can't decide which direction it wants to go or where it wants to land!

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 20/09/2016

After approaching Ireland, the Flame made a turn to the south. As you can see in the picture, the nearest land is now in Spain at the town of A Coruna, about 200 miles to the south. Current winds would carry it past the tip of Spain and back into the Atlantic. We are or course hoping for a change in those winds and a push back to the coast soon. (The track of the Flame is the light purple line.) The tracking page for the Flame and other similar mini-boats can be found at:


There are now three mini-boats approaching the coasts of England and Ireland. The gentleman that is in charge of the Lancer boat project, Michael O'Connor,sent the following email to numerous people in Ireland on September 6:

"A fleet of miniature unmanned sailboats is preparing to invade the West Coast of Ireland. Not to worry, this is a friendly invasion. They are either just off the coastline or might have even made landfall by the time you receive this. We are hoping you or anyone else could recover our boat before it gets damaged in the surf. This is part of a hands-on learning program we are doing at Waterford High School. We sent one boat but are writing this to let you know of the possibility of more on the way. We are learning about oceanography, earth science, geography, navigation, and hope to have a meaningful international relations experience as well. If you click on this link you will see a map indicating where our boats are. Our boat is the Lancer. The Osprey and the Atlantic Flame also have possible trajectories toward the Irish Coast within weeks. Click over the boat location to find the longitude/latitude. We are hoping students could meet her as she comes ashore or maybe your local fishermen can pick her up before she comes ashore. You’ll find information about us in the watertight compartment and how you can email us for more information. Please take our boat to a nearby school so your students can learn as well. It might be neat if the Lancer somehow made its way to Waterford, Ireland. Let’s work together, fix her up as needed and get her back to sea to continue her voyage. We’d love to see pictures and have a chance to Skype with you. Thank you, Michael O’Connor, Science Teacher, Waterford High School"

Later that same day, Mike and Kaitlyn also emailed the mayor of Waterford, Ireland in attempt to get him interested.

The next morning, on September 7, 2016, we heard from Edna Nolan, the managing director of the Coastways Surveys in Ireland telling us they already had their eye out for the approaching boats and they happen to be working on the west coast this particular week! The Minister of Education's secretary, Derek Newcombe, also acknowledged Mike's email.

Stay tuned for an update on The Flame's current location later today.

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 09/09/2016

401 miles from Mizen Head, Ireland with strong winds pushing it that way!

Timeline photos 09/09/2016

Ireland, England, France, or Spain. Which would you choose?

Timeline photos 06/09/2016

Four Months at Sea!

The Flame was launched on May 5 which means that yesterday she has been on the water for 4 months. After traveling about 110 miles since last Thursday, 9/1, there remains about 550 miles to go to the southern tip of Ireland at Mizen Head. That is the direction the winds are currently taking her.

Two other min-boats are also bearing down on the Irish coast, one from Maine and one from the Kent School in Chestertown MD. The boat from Chestertown, like the Flame, was launched from aboard the Bermuda Islander, a container ship out of New Jersey. Which of the three will land first, and where, are the big questions now. The winds are almost bound to change in the next few days and delay the landing for one or all of the mini-boats.

The current track can be seen below with the Flame in light purple near the bottom of the picture.


Be sure to like this page to see future updates!

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 01/09/2016

New page and Hurricane Gaston!!

We are excited that The Flame now has it's own page!!
As she approaches the coast of Europe we thought that some of you would like more frequent updates and decided this was the best way to do so.

The latest ping shows the The Flame to be at 45 deg 40 min N and 14 deg 25 min W which is about 335 miles from the nearest land, A Coruna on the northwest tip of Spain. If it heads north to the British Isles, the distance is now 512 miles remaining to the southwest corner of England near Penzance.

Hurricane Gaston is quickly bearing down on the area and could affect the direction that The Flame heads over the next week. Who know, it may give the final push to land. The first picture below are of the current track of the Flame and other mini-boats with the Flame in light purple. The other picture shows Hurricane Gaston with the current position of the Flame being marked by the small green circle to the right.

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 31/08/2016

Here also is a note from the pilot that took the MV Bermuda Islander from Salem to the mouth of the Delaware Bay. Hello Mr. Miller,
My name is Stuart Griffin and I am a Delaware River and Bay Pilot. On May 2, I boarded the Bermuda Islander at the Port of Salem, NJ to Pilot the ship down the Delaware for her weekly transit to Bermuda.

As I rounded the stern of the ship to enter the house, I noticed the “Atlantic Flame” in her cradle on the stern. I took the attached photos and just thought you might like to know that I saw her begin her journey. I think the mini-boat program sounds fantastic and I love the potential of countless learning opportunities that a project like this represents. In fact, I found your project so interesting that I have offered to spearhead a similar venture at the elementary school my son attends in Lewes, the Richard A. Shields Elementary.

I hope you enjoy the little news I can offer of the “Atlantic Flame” and that her journey connects your students with the excitement of the sea, science, travel, and people of other cultures and traditions. As I disembarked the ship on May 2 around midnight at Cape Henlopen, she looked very proud in her cradle and I wish her “fair winds and following seas”.

Good luck,
Stuart Griffin
Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware

Photos from The Atlantic Flame's post 31/08/2016

Atlantic Flame Update

I received some pictures from the captain of the MV Bermuda Islander of the launching of the GMS/ Vanderwende farm Creamery Atlantic Flame!

Since the re-launch it has traveled about 365 miles to the northeast. We now appear to be in a race with another similar boat launched earlier off the coast of Florida. (The white line on the tracking map is the Florida boat.) It will be interesting to see if they travel together. Click this link to track the Flame.

Timeline photos 31/08/2016

August 2 UPDATE

Update on the GMS/Vanderwendes Ice Cream Atlantic Flame
Our mini-boat continues to make good progress towards Europe. Overnight last night, for example, it traveled 25 miles to the northeast and it is now 2739 miles from the Delaware coast. It appears to be headed for Ireland at the moment and is about 715 miles from the coast. If it turns to the south a little it could hit Portugal which is about 760 miles away.
Since it was launched in early May the Flame has averaged about 30 miles per day. The winds are constantly changing, of course, and the track has not been a straight line. Most days, however, it has moved mostly eastward and has not done a lot of backtracking.
If you remember, we had a friendly challenge going with a boat from Dunnellon Christian School in Florida. Since riding along side of them for a time, we have been fortunate to continue mostly eastward while they have gotten caught in several swirls of current and wind. We are currently leading the race across the ocean by about 1100 miles.
(This is a picture of the Flame soon after launch on May 5.)

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