Teenage brothers build and launch model boats to circumnavigate Antarctica

The brothers, aged 13 and 11, have launched boats previously on a similar voyage and even set a world record.
Sejal Sharma
The model ships
The model ships


In what is probably a world first, two young brothers launched their model boats to replicate the 1839 Ross scientific expedition where HMS Erebus and HMS Terror discovered the Ross ice shelf.

Called Project Erebus, two adventurous brothers, Ollie (13) and Harry (11) have set out on this exceptional journey. Their parents - MacNeill Ferguson, an ecological specialist, and Vicki, a school principal, say that the boys are self-motivated, reported The Guardian.

At the time of writing this article, Erebus and Terror had traveled approximately 77 kilometers. You can track the ships using this link.

Teenage brothers build and launch model boats to circumnavigate Antarctica
Brothers launch model boats

The Ross expedition was a voyage of scientific exploration of the Antarctic from 1839 to 1843. The voyage was led by James Clark Ross, with two unusually strong warships.

The brothers were intrigued by the recent discovery of the wrecks of both ships in Canada's Arctic. It was later that HMS Erebus and HMS Terror went on to be part of the Franklin expedition in 1845, where both ships were trapped in the ice for two years. The crews had to abandon the ships, later succumbing to starvation.

A two-year journey

After the wrecks’ discovery, inspiration hit them and they started building one-meter-long replicas using traditional materials that will help in an easy circumnavigation of the Antarctic.

The replica boats will follow the trajectory of the original ships and drift through the Southern Ocean following the circumpolar current around the coastline of Antarctica, a journey of over 20,000 kilometers that might take up to two years.

Not only are the brothers trying to copy the ship’s route, but are also trying to replicate the making of the ships as closely as possible. The design and materials will be of utmost importance, and at the same time trying not to compromise on strength, buoyancy, and durability.

Teenage brothers build and launch model boats to circumnavigate Antarctica
The boys painting the ships

Building the miniature boats has been a challenge, given that the boys had to fit a state-of-the-art tracker and data-collecting sensors for the journey. Other challenges involved plastic reduction, marine growth, battery life, temperature, ice build-up, pack ice crushing, corrosion, and wind drift, as per their website.

Not the brothers’ first voyage

This will be their third ship adventure. According to their website, the boys defeated their own world record for the most traveled toy ship. The first journey set the world record of over 6,000 kilometers across the Atlantic, and the second with a 15,000-kilometer journey through the Caribbean.

The latter is yet to be recorded in the Guinness World Records.

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