Confused Scout gets early rescue

Her builders cheer as Scout sets out from Fogland on the first attempt. (BILL MURPHY) Her builders cheer as Scout sets out from Fogland on the first attempt. (BILL MURPHY)

Her builders cheer as Scout sets out from Fogland Saturday morning. (BILL MURPHY)

Her builders cheer as Scout sets out from Fogland Saturday morning. (BILL MURPHY)

Scout embarked on her long-awaited transatlantic attempt to Spain Saturday morning with fanfare off the beach at Fogland in Tiverton.

Champagne was uncorked, cameras rolled and spectators cheered as the little boat that a group of Tiverton friends and engineering students have labored over for the better part of three summers set out onto a gray river.

“Too bad that it’s not more sunny, but it’s her time to go,” said Dylan Rodriguez of the Scout team.

Scout’s departure was impressive.

The boat’s electric motor turned on and Scout set off south down the Sakonnet River, following GPS satellite coordinates plugged into her computer.

The boat’s trip down river was flawless and once beyond Sakonnet Point, a course adjustment properly sent Scout a bit southeast.

The Tiverton team lugs Scout down the beach at Fogland Saturday prior to launching. (BILL MURPHY)

The Tiverton team lugs Scout down the beach at Fogland Saturday prior to launching. (BILL MURPHY)

But off Martha’s Vineyard’s Gay Head, Scout took a startling jog to the east-northeast, roughly in the direction of Noman’s Land, an uninhabited island just south of Gay Head.

(To see Scout’s track, visit http://gotransat.com/tracking/

Given the choice of having Scout wreck on the island’s rocky shore or rescue their boat, the team plucked Scout from the water Sunday and headed back to the workshop — still 3,410 miles from Spain. For the moment, the 60-plus mile record by an Irish team for such an unmanned attempt is intact.

The boat’s handlers sent this message to friends …

“The Scout crew would like to thank everyone for all of the support that we’ve received, both over the last few years and at the launch event yesterday. If you’ve been following the tracking page at gotransat.com/tracking, you’ve probably noticed that Scout recently took a trip back up the Sakonnet River at a speed of 18 miles an hour. After reviewing the onboard camera footage from the first 24 hours of the trip, we found the weather conditions offshore to be worse than we expected; Scout wasn’t able to collect enough power during the day to meet its power budget. The crew analyzed the situation as it developed and decided that the most prudent course of action was to retrieve Scout before it could be washed into the islands to the North. Scout is now back in the workshop and is awaiting a proper weather window to be re-launched. The Scout crew is confident that with a launch in proper weather conditions, Scout will have ample room to drift without endangering itself. We will continue to monitor the weather and send updates as Scout’s re-launch approaches. We would also like to thank the Andrade family for letting us use their boat in the rescue mission. We look forward to announcing the next launch soon.”

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