Miniboat TMS Sea Challenger

The TMS Miniboat Crew, Mr. Rock’s 7C2 AcLab.

Starting in February 2023, University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, in partnership with Educational Passages, worked with students at Frank E. Thompson Middle School in Newport, Rhode Island to build and launch their own miniboat, the TMS Sea Challenger.

The group of seventh graders worked together to build their miniboat. This included ballasting the keel; sanding the hull and keel; painting the boat; installing sensors to collect data on water and air temperature and a satellite transmitter to track location; decorating the deck and sail; naming the boat; and deciding what items would go into the hatch. They also learned about currents, weather, technology, ocean science and more.

See the TMS Sea Challenger’s Journey

Launch off RV Endeavor 

In June, the TMS Sea Challenger was deployed into the Atlantic Ocean from the GSO Research Vessel Endeavor. Winds and currents will determine the miniboats journey. 


The boat has two GPS systems onboard. In addition to reporting location, this system also collected air temperature, water temperature, and orientation. The sensor package was installed by the students.

Landing & Recovery in Nova Scotia

On September 20, 2023 the miniboat TMS Sea Challenger landed just east of St. Esprit Beach in Nova Scotia. The confirmed landing location was not known until September 22, which led us to believe that the boat was upside down and unable to communicate with the satellites. Educational Passages & URI GSO made a call for assistance in recovering the miniboat to local contacts and on social media.

We were connected to local members of the Surfing Association of Nova Scotia – SANS to coordinate the recovery. Two locals in the group, Ross Robinson and Michelle Richards, and two travelers from Maine, Eric Brunschwiler and Nik Totaro, ventured out to the remote and isolated coastline near St. Esprit Beach to attempt a retrieval of the miniboat.

The miniboat was located in the exact area of the last GPS report, on the coast between Strachan’s Cove and Kelpy Cove. The vessel’s remains were carried back out along a rugged 3km coastal hike, with the items left by TMS students still in the hatch! 

Meet the Crew

Miniboat Crew at The Ocean Race Newport



The GSO Miniboat program is made possible by the Devereux Ocean Foundation, Inc.