Lonely Planet Writer

Track the adventures of a tiny pirate ship as it travels from Scotland to America

In May 2017, two brothers from Aberdeenshire in Scotland launched a toy pirate ship off the coast of Peterhead. Inspired by the idea of sending a message in a bottle, Ollie Ferguson, eight and Harry Ferguson, six, were excited to see where the vessel (aptly named “Adventure”) would end up. One year on, and following a whirlwind adventure that took it through Scandinavia, the plucky ship is now roughing the seas of the South Atlantic Ocean in a bid to make it all the way to the Americas.

The Adventure beside the Christian Radich, which carried it to West Africa.
The Adventure beside the Christian Radich, which carried it to West Africa. Image by The Days are Just Packed.

Now fitted with a GPS tracking device that allows people to follow its route through a dedicated website, the Adventure underwent some clever modifications before starting its long journey, including the addition of a counterweight to help it stay upright and a polystyrene filling to help it stay afloat. Upon leaving Scotland, it carried a message asking anyone who found the boat to return it to the sea after recording where it went to. With help from a current, it first travelled to Denmark, where it was picked up by a family who took some photos with it before returning it to the water. From there, it went to Sweden, where it was found in a tree by a woman in a boat who kindly made some repairs before setting it off on yet another voyage, this time to Norway.

Ollie and Harry with the Adventure.
Ollie and Harry with Adventure. Image by The Days are Just Packed.

The story of the Adventure soon spread through Scandinavian media, which led to the Ferguson family being contacted by the Christian Radich, a Norwegian full-rigged ship that offered to carry it 3000 miles to the South Atlantic Ocean to explore new waters. The crew members also took the time to make some much needed repairs on the tiny vessel, replacing its sails and rigging that had been damaged in the North Sea crossing and the Adventure was released 100 miles off the coast of Mauritania in West Africa.

Ollie and Harry tracking Adventure online. Image by The Days are Just Packed.

“It’s been a very positive story, and it’s a little bit of fun. We got a map and marked all the countries that we have been sent good wishes from so far and showed the boys,” Ollie and Harry’s father Mac Ferguson told Lonely Planet Travel News. It hasn’t all been plain sailing however, as the battery on the tracking device is now at only 3%, making it a lot more difficult to follow. “Three days ago some guys in Barbados sent up a plane and flew over to see where she was, and verified that she was still upright and sailing. They sent a speedboat out to pick her up to recharge the GPS battery, but the waves were too high, so the Adventure is now the mercy of the currents,” Mac said.

A crew member of the Christian Radich fixing Adventure. Image by The Days are Just Packed.

Apart from their most recent nautical expedition, the Ferguson family are no strangers to unique and inspiring undertakings. Four years ago, the family decided to start a bucket list of 500 adventures that the boys could attempt to complete, no matter how outlandish or amazing the suggestions, and they are now closing in on the halfway mark.

“The adventure list is about fostering the spirit of adventure and exploring something new that the boys haven’t seen before. They wanted to go into space, which we couldn’t do obviously, so we decided that we would make LEGO versions of spacemen and sent them into high altitude with a weather balloon with a GoPro attached. Some of the adventures are designed to teach them about community and caring. Last Christmas we did rucksacks for homeless people and we have also gone around schools to do presentations encouraging other children to do community adventures, whether its feeding birds in the garden or picking up litter,” Mac said.

Updates on the ship as well as the 500 adventure list are available on the Ferguson’s Facebook Page.