A tiny toy boat belonging to two British boys has sailed nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and is set to complete its journey in the Caribbean.
Brothers Ollie and Harry Ferguson, eight and six, had their little Playmobil boat Adventure dropped 100 miles off the coast of Mauritius in Africa.
The toy craft has since travelled 2,800 miles in five months and tackled waves of up to 65ft to come within 100 miles off the coast of Guyana in South America.
Brothers Ollie and Harry Ferguson, eight and six, had their little Playmobil boat Adventure dropped 100 miles off the coast of Mauritius in Africa. The toy craft has since travelled 2,800 miles in five months and tackled waves of up to 65ft to come within 100 miles off the coast of Guyana in South America
But as Adventure became caught in a giant swell carrying her towards the Bahamas, she missed several ‘pings’ updating the boys on her location and the battery was beginning to run low.
Primary school pupils Ollie and Harry, from Turriff, Aberdeenshire, are desperate for someone to find the boat before the signal dies out and she is lost forever.
They have put out appeals to Guyana and Venezeula and even nearby drilling companies to try and locate her and, if she has not yet hit land, recharge the tracker before sending her off again.
Dad MacNeill Ferguson, who runs children’s outdoor company Marvellous Adventure Club, said: ‘It’s hard to believe a little toy boat could make it so far. It’s truly amazing.
‘The data has shown her reaching speeds of one knot and heights of 20 metres (65ft) which shows what rough weather she’s been through.
‘We have started to worry about not getting pings. She had only missed one in the five months of her journey before but she’s now missed three in quick succession.
‘We have heard from her again which was a massive relief. When we thought we had lost her the boys were completely heartbroken.
‘Now she is getting to the end of the journey the excitement is really building in our house.
‘This is touching a lot of people, and we have thousands of people following the boat’s journey and looking out for her pings on the tracking map.’
Adventure was an old Playmobil Pirates Ship the boys dug out of their toybox. She originally cost around £40.
But as Adventure became caught in a giant swell carrying her towards the Bahamas, she missed several ‘pings’ updating the boys on her location and the battery was beginning to run low
After filling her with polystyrene and foam to make her seaworthy, she was released into the North Sea in May 2017 at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
Fitted without a tracker, Ollie and Harry were delighted when they received a message saying the boat had landed 390 miles away in Denmark, before going on to Sweden and Norway.
The Norwegian crew of the full-rigged ship Christian Radich then offered take her 3,000 miles and drop her into the Atlantic.
Adventure’s Atlantic crossing began 100 miles of the Mauritian coast on November 8, with a tracker supplied by OPEX Group.
MacNeill said: ‘When you play with these things in the bath they normally just fall over and sink.
‘We did some work to make her seaworthy but we were amazed she made it Denmark.
‘An Atlantic adventure seemed like the next logical step and we were so grateful when the Christian Radich approached us and offered to start it.
‘They had people on board who had work on the Cutty Sark restoration so Adventure was in good hands for a few repairs.’
The journey almost came to an end only a few hundred miles into the journey when Adventure drifted through the Canary Islands and skirted just a mile from the shore.
Since then it has travelled to within 100 miles of Guyana, where it has been picked up by a strong current sweeping it towards the Caribbean.
But the dramatic change in course is likely to lengthen the boat’s journey by several weeks, meaning the tracker’s battery could run flat.
The crew of the Stena Carron, a drillship owned by Scottish company Stena Drilling, offered to launch a search party if Adventure came within 20 miles of their position, but she sailed agonisingly wide at 35 miles, making the hunt impossible.
MacNeill said: ‘For someone finds it when it reaches land and message us to let us know, that’s what we’re really waiting for.
‘But having the tracker has been so much fun and we would to lose track of her.
They have put out appeals to Guyana and Venezeula and even nearby drilling companies to try and locate her and, if she has not yet hit land, recharge the tracker before sending her off again
‘It was very kind of the Stena Carron to offer to look for her. The chances of finding a small boat like that anywhere within 20 miles in the ocean are less than finding a needle in a haystack.
‘If anyone else can find her and let us know how she is getting on that would be fantastic.
‘It’s what we’re really hoping for.’
Stuart Greer, operations manager at Stena Drilling, said: ‘This is a remarkable story generating a lot of excitement whilst capturing the hearts of the crews of the Carron as well as our client Exxon Mobil..
‘It’s astonishing that a plastic toy boat could travel across the Atlantic and if we had successfully recovered the Adventure the crews had been planning to take photographs of it in various locations on the ship that could be passed back to the boys.
‘We have alerted the other vessels in the area and may still be able to intercept it with one of the supply vessels therefore we will keep in touch with the family and continue to monitor.’
Ollie and Harry launched the boat as part of their effort to complete 500 adventures before they turn 18.
They have currently completed 229 and are constantly adding more ideas to their list.
MacNeill said: ‘The boys have learned so much through doing this.
‘Not only have they been able to study the weather and how the oceans move, but they’ve found out there are kind people all over the world willing to help them.
‘That’s the point of these adventures, to let the boys have fun while exploring the world around them.
‘We’d love to plan something big for the 250th thing but we’re not sure what to do yet.
‘If anyone has any ideas we’d really love to hear them. It’s great when our adventures excite other people.’
Adventures’ progress can be tracked at: https://track-adventure.squarespace.com/
Ollie and Harry’s reactions to the crossing, and their other adventures, can be found here