Ollie and Harry Ferguson have some serious goals. The two young brothers from Aberdeenshire in Scotland want to complete 500 incredibly cool adventures. Four years into their impressive project, they've completed 239 so far. But one huge project that has people around the globe captivated is a tiny pirate ship.
The brothers — ages 8 and 6 — launched the ship off the Scottish coast in May 2017, inspired by the idea of a message in a bottle. They were curious to see where the Playmobil boat would end up.
Outfitted with a GPS tracker, the boat — aptly named Adventure — also took aboard a counterweight and some special filling to help it stay upright and afloat. It also includes a message asking anyone who finds the boat to return it back to sea.
The little ship went to Denmark, then to Sweden, where she ended up a little battered from her journey.
"Bowled over by the kindness of the Norwegian people," the family posted on Facebook, chronicling the ship's voyage. "Not only did our ship get picked up in Sweden and fully repaired by a lovely Norwegian couple, but now a park ranger in Ytre Hvaler National Park has picked the boat up from the marine reserve and is helping the boys to relaunch Adventure so she can continue her fantastic journey."
As the story of the tiny boat spread, the captain of the Norwegian ship the Christian Radich offered to take the boat on an even greater journey. After making a few much-needed repairs, the crew took her into the Atlantic Ocean 3,400 miles to the south off the Cape Verde islands, west of Africa.
The plastic question
The Ferguson family has had some questions about purposely releasing plastic into the ocean, even in the shape of a tiny boat. They've responded with a thoughtful post.
"There is a recurring question about how appropriate it is to put a plastic boat into the ocean, and that this sets a bad example. We fully agree that discarding plastic waste in our seas is wholly unacceptable and is leaving a shameful legacy that may take us decades to fix," they said. "The decision to use the boat for our message in a bottle adventure was ours, not the boys. The toy boat was picked as we felt putting a traditional message in bottle in glass or plastic bottles sent the wrong message to the boys."
In the post, they included photos, like the one above, of the boys cleaning up garbage from a beach.
"As you can see from these pics, we take littering very seriously and as a family we have undertaken a number of beach cleans and litter picks over the last four years of adventures. We encourage the boys to be conscientious about leaving no trace, and they have both recently achieved their John Muir Conserver Award. An award that requires twenty days of outdoor time looking at ways of conserving and helping protect the environment."
Tracking the boat
On May 3, Adventure pinged about 100 miles south of Barbados. She was heading towards St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but that was one of the last times she was heard from.
"Her tracker has run out of battery," the boy's mom, Vicki Ferguson, tells MNN. "But she was spotted by a plane last week so we know [the boat] is still sailing away. She is west of Barbados just now. We just have to wait till she runs aground to recharge her batteries."
Until the tiny ship is spotted, the boys are working their way through their other amazing adventures.