Students from three area schools gathered in Astoria, Washington, on Tuesday, to wish their classmates ‘bon voyage,’ as they launch their twenty-five foot boat, Jenny, into the bay. Final destination: Yokohama, Japan.
The Astoria vocational education department has worked closely with the three schools to provide students with hands-on experience and tutoring in laying a keel and then building an actual sea-worthy boat with materials donated by local shipbuilders and dockyards.
The Columbia Maritime Association arranged with the governments of the United States and Japan to allow five students to man the craft and attempt to sail it across the Pacific. Their time spent onboard the Jenny will count towards their high school graduation requirements. The student-built ship will be escorted part of the way by the US Coast Guard, and then will be kept on radar by the US Navy until it sails past Hawaii, where the Japanese Navy will escort the vessel into Yokohama — and be on constant standby in case the boat runs into any trouble, such as major leaks or a tropical storm.
The students manning the ship will each keep a journal during the entire trip, but will not be posting blogs, as originally planned. School officials decided to downplay the endeavor in order to prevent too many other students from wanting to build boats and sail away to exotic ports in lieu of staying ashore and doing homework.