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Boat washed up on Beara coast is heading home to Canada

June 21st, 2019 11:50 AM

By Southern Star Team

Pat Fitz and Graham Muirhead with the restored Sea Leon in Pat's garden. (Photo: Anne Marie Cronin)

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A REMOTE sailing boat built and launched by a Canadian university which was washed up in Castletownbere in February is now winging its way home to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.  

Graham Muirhead, a faculty engineer from Dalhousie University arrived in Castletownbere last week to collect the 2.4m boat, the Sea Leon, from local man Pat Fitz, who was one of a small group of locals who had come across the boat washed up on Trahalan Strand outside the town.

He brought it home for safe storage and made contact with the university from details printed on the hull.

Students from the faculty of engineering at Dalhousie launched the vessel in July 2018 as part of the Microtransat Challenge in which participants have to design and build an unmanned sailing boat capable of crossing the Atlantic using only wind power. 

Speaking to The Southern Star, Graham Muirhead said that they had assumed the boat would end up in northwest France and had been following the boat’s position as it crossed the Atlantic.  

‘We had been tracking the boat for the first thee months, it went out of contact and we presumed it was lost. Then in February I was sitting in my office when a colleague called me to say, check your email.’

Graham said he was delighted to be able to make the journey to Castletownbere to collect the boat, his first visit to Ireland, as he said the Microtransat project was one of the first projects he had worked on since joining the faculty.  

‘I was previously a student at Dalhousie and when I became a staff member this was the first big project I worked on.’ He said considering its journey, the boat was in fairly good condition. ‘It had taken on a lot of water, but the hull was still intact,’ he noted.  

With the help of Pat Fitz, he prepared the boat for shipping back to Canada. ‘A group of students in the faculty are working on a similar vessel and will now be able to study the Sea Leon to see if they need to make any alterations on their vessel,’ revealed Graham.

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