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Polar diary: Mission update on Turriff ships Antarctic adventure

By David Porter

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The vessels have been strpped down for the sea journey
The vessels have been strpped down for the sea journey

Back in July two model ships built by brothers Ollie and Harry Ferguson from Turriff, were launched in an effort to circumnavigate Antarctica.

The mission took its inspiration from the Ross scientific expedition of 1839-43 which involved HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

Replicating the construction of the original ships, they built one metre long replicas of the two vessels, which were set to follow the circumpolar current around Antarctica, a journey of around 20,000km and which could take up to two years to complete.

As part of the journey the boats transmit scientific data on a regular basis including air temperature, ocean temperature and ocean pH along with a monthly photograph which is uploaded via satellite.

Unfortunately contact with the Erebus was lost after 500km into the journey, but sister ship the Terror continues to transmit data.

HMS Terror continues its journey.
HMS Terror continues its journey.

The boys father MacNeill Fergusson said: "Terror continues to drift her way around Antarctica.

"So far she has covered 3377km.

"The sheer magnitude of what this little boat is doing is mind blowing.

"For context, she has already exceeded a distance from our home across the Atlantic to North America!

"Not bad for a little wooden boat only a metre long."

The view from the onboard camera. Picture: Icoteq
The view from the onboard camera. Picture: Icoteq

A long term project, the construction and transportation of the ships via the Falkland Islands took over two years, as official approval for the project was sought and transport down to the Antarctic waters.

The boats were crafted from elm wood and are fitted with bespoke tracking and monitoring devices developed by Icoteq, with a battery life of more than six years.

They are also fitted with cameras which will be able to send around one image a month.

After the boats were completed, they were shipped to the Falkland Islands until the family received official approval from authorities that they could be launched into the Southern Ocean.

The Pharos SG, a South Georgia fisheries patrol vessel, then transported them out and launched them into the circumpolar current on Tuesday, July 11.

They were quickly attacked by a pair of petrels which seemed to think the boats were food but fortunately the birds soon lost interest and flew away.

The boys are no strangers to such challenges as they have undertaken many adventures, previously setting the world record for the longest distance travelled at sea by a toy boat.

They sailed their Playmobil pirate ship Adventure more than 3700 miles across the Atlantic to the Caribbean as part of a list of 500 adventures.

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