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Miniature Pirate Ship's Odyssey From Scotland To Miami's Shores And Back

Miniature pirate ship from Scotland sails away from Miami
Raquel Coronell Uribe
Miniature pirate ship from Scotland catches the Gulf Stream sails away from Miami.

In 2017, two boys in Scotland launched a toy pirate ship into the ocean. It made its way across the Atlantic before the ship got lost. After that, they re-launched another boat, and earned the world record for the longest distance sailed by a toy ship.

That boat arrived on Miami’s shores in March and the little girl who found it has now released it back into the ocean, hoping it arrives back in Scotland.

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After Ely Alvarez and her dad, Ulisses, heard about the toy boat from Scotland, they started tracking it online. When it got close to Miami, they took their boat out to find it and spotted the miniature pirate ship in the sea.

Six-year-old Ely described what looking for the boat was like

“So there was two boys who live in Scotland. So they, they let it go in the sea and then we found it with my dad on the boat,” Ely said.

The two boys who live in Scotland are Ollie and Harry Ferguson. They’re 9 and 11 years old. And they decided to try to do 500 adventures before they grow up, like sending a Lego into space or playing in a rock band. So far they have done more than 300 of those adventures.

“We just have 80 adventures until we hit 400,” Harry said.

One of these adventures was to refurbish a toy pirate ship to navigate the Atlantic and beat a world record. They named the vessel Adventure II and equipped it with a tracker to sail the sea.

The boat is about two feet wide and a foot tall. To keep it from flipping over with the tides there’s a weight sticking out from the bottom. It’s almost twice the size of the length of the boat. The miniature ship got to Ely after months at sea, a stop in Belize, another in Honduras, and two hurricanes.

It even had a crew member on board.

“The funny part about it, it’s just, it had a crab inside it. It was living in it,” Ely said.

“I think he was the captain of the boat, right, Ely?” Ulisses Alvarez asked.

“No, no, no!” she exclaimed.

“Are you the captain, Ely?” I asked.

“Uh ... yeah!” Ely confirmed.

After they found the boat, Ely and her dad got in touch with the boys in Scotland and decided to send the ship sailing back to reunite with its owners. But after its odyssey, the ship was beat up. It had to undergo some repairs before it was ready to sail again.

One of Ely’s uncles, Anniel, fixes boats for a living. He ordered replacement parts from the toy factory that made the ship.

“Tío Anniel, ¿ese bote ya casi está listo?” Ely asked her uncle.

“We are working on it!” Anniel said.

Along its many stops, the boat gathered hidden messages and keepsakes from people who found it.

“Oh the rum! They put a little bottle of rum...I think that’s from Honduras, as well,” Alvarez said.

One of the people who found the ship was Ulisses’s good friend in Belize. He’s the one who told Ulisses — which, by the way, is Ely's dad's real name — the ship was Miami-bound.

To get back to Scotland, the tiny vessel will have to travel 4,000 miles, and likely weather new storms as this year’s hurricane season approaches.

Ollie and Harry’s dad, MacNeill Ferguson, says the ship must travel on the Gulf Stream to make its way back to Scotland.

“So the Gulf Stream goes from the American coast and from west to east and back across to Europe. So hopefully she'll end up back somewhere near our shores,” Ferguson said.

University of Miami oceanographer Lisa Beal studies the way drifters in the ocean move. She devised an online tool to predict their move through the ocean. Beal says the biggest risk for the toy boat would be falling off the Gulf Stream and recirculating, meaning the pirate ship would do laps around the Caribbean.

To catch this elusive stream, Ely had to venture out 50 miles off Miami’s shore — about halfway to the Bahamas.

With excitement for AII to continue her journey, Ely said farewell to the boat.

“Goodbye! I hope it’s in Scotland with the boys!” Ely said to the boat.

In Scotland, Ollie and Harry are already planning festivities for AII’s return and they made some new friends along the way.

There’s an entire community of people eagerly watching the boat’s journey. Their Facebook page, called “The days are just packed,” has more than 32,000 followers hoping for updates on AII’s travels and Ollie and Harry’s 500 adventures.

“It’s like a little group of people. They never even knew each other before. We never knew them, but then the boat hit there, we got a message, we sent some back and they became friends,” Ollie and Harry said.

Ely is even planning a fishing trip with Ollie and Harry in Miami — when it’s safe to travel.

The miniature pirate ship’s GPS battery will only last six months. If AII gets a few degrees off stream, the ship could recirculate in the Caribbean for more than thirty years.

Since the boat’s launch, the miniature pirate ship has actually been knocked off course.

The boys in Scotland said that, according to its tracker, it’s now headed west. They hope it will make its way back into the Gulf Stream and eventually back to Scotland. Their phone number is on board, and they ask anyone who finds the boat — to let them know.

You can track the pirate ship’s course here.

Raquel Coronell Uribe is currently a rising junior, on a gap year, at Harvard University. She is a staff writer for The Harvard Crimson and has also worked at the school’s radio station as a morning DJ.
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