The Hilda Lahti Elementary School’s mini-boat, Boat-a-Lahti — part of a new Columbia River Maritime Museum program to connect students in Oregon with students in Japan through a mini-boat voyage across the Pacific — has had almost as many misadventures at sea at Astoria’s wayward sailor, Rimas Meleshyus. Unlike Rimas, however, Boat-a-Lahti’s movements can be tracked at tinyurl.com/tinylahti
Launched Feb. 11, 9 miles southwest of the New Point Loma Lighthouse in California by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert, Boat-a-Lahti made landfall only 10 hours and 14 miles later on Mission Beach in San Diego.
Lifeguard Brian Zeller, who coincidentally owns a house in Astoria, and fellow lifeguards, relaunched the mini-boat on Valentine’s Day.
On Feb. 23, Boat-a-Lahti got into trouble again. “Found your boat washed ashore on a very remote beach in Baja ...” Pat Conroy wrote to Nate Sandel, project manager and education director at CRMM. “I was working as a whale guide at a remote beach camp at the mouth of Scammon’s Lagoon, and on one of my days off I took an eight-hour round trip hike to explore that very remote section of beach.” Pat’s photo of Boat-a-Lahti is shown.
“There is really no way to get there other than foot along the shore,” Pat explained, “just miles of shifting sand dunes, and a very shallow and wave-strewn ocean just offshore, with almost constant onshore winds … It looked to be in great shape, but the little solar unit under the plexiglass had shifted a bit.
“It was more than 100 yards above the tide line when I found it. I moved it and put it up on a nearby shrub — there was no way I could relaunch it on that lee shore and crashing waves. … You have shipwrecked in a very remote and beautiful location!”
On March 23, Nate reported that the Captain of the Port of Guerrero Negro in Baja, Mexico, pulled Boat-a-Lahti off the beach, and will send an official report. “Melissa Reid (the teacher at Hilda Lahti), and I met and sent emails with relaunch ideas to Mexico,” Nate wrote. “We will see what we can get arranged!”