Of all the strange things he’s seen floating in these waters, he’s never seen anything like this before. The unfamiliar shape floated in front of him as he rushed to investigate the potential threat.
But he had to act fast, the object was headed straight towards the shoreline where numerous people stood watching. He raced towards the scene.
Ireland is well-known for its breath-taking beauty. With its piercing cliffs, rolling green hills, and beautiful views of the Atlantic, the Irish coast is a sight to behold. Therefore, imagine the surprise when tourists and locals spotted a completely alien vessel floating towards the coastline of County Mayo.
Little did they know, an eerie message lay awaiting inside.
The strange object bounced up and down with the current, and its trajectory worried all the onlookers who had gathered to get a closer look on the shore. It was becoming clear that it was being swept along aimlessly with the current with no purpose or objective.
That’s when locals decided that it was time to call the authorities.
Coastguard Greg Watt was on duty the morning he received the strange call. After rushing to the scene, he saw the mysterious object in question. It was in the distance, rising from the morning fog as it grew closer.
Greg stepped closer for a better look. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was definitely a vessel of some kind. He desperately hoped there weren’t people onboard.
Greg immediately knew something wasn’t right. The strange vessel wasn’t shaped like any boat he had ever seen. He couldn’t help but wonder why it was here and if anyone was on board.
Greg was in a coast guard boat floating alongside the object, calling into the megaphone. When there was no reply, a feeling of doom washed over him.
Greg and his team were met with silence. After a couple of minutes, they readied themselves and climbed aboard. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
They didn’t have time to hesitate. The weather was taking a turn and a strong wind started to blow bringing waves that threatened to tear the whole vessel apart.
Greg hitched the eerie vessel to their boat and carefully pulled it to shore. Now that they were away from the threatening waves, they could focus on investigating the mysterious boat. Peering inside, it looked like someone had lived here.
Greg glanced over the strewn objects inside. He imagined what could have happened to the boat’s crew. His blood went cold. What happened?
Greg wondered where the passengers had gone, and why they traveled the open sea in such a strangely shaped vessel. Looking at it now, it looked more like a caravan than a boat, and he wondered how it kept above water at all.
But just when Greg thought things couldn’t get any stranger, he found a note scrawled hastily on the inside.
“The shape, itself, is very unusual, because of the size of it. I initially thought it might be a caravan,” Greg’s co-worker explained. But by the time they reached the boat, it was no longer inhabitable.
To Greg’s surprise, there wasn’t only a note, but a name was written on the wall in black permanent marker. It was a sure clue that led the authorities straight to him.
The name scribbled on the wall was Rick Small. Now, it was just a matter of time before Greg and his team could unravel this bizarre mystery.
Greg searched high and low for the man behind the name. When he finally found him, he was more than intrigued when his search led him all the way to Canada. This man was bound to have an extraordinary story.
It turned out that Ontario resident Rick Small was notorious in his hometown for having an eccentric personality with a rather unorthodox view of the world.
Greg learned that Rick had been an advocate of alternative energy sources, and he was more than outspoken about environmentalism. But that’s not all.
Rick Small was a bit of a sensation in Canada and even made the national headlines when he constructed a completely solar-powered bike and rode it from British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland.
Greg found out that Rick’s most recent project was building a completely self-sustaining vessel that he planned on living in on the Foxtrap Marina. But it seemed he had bigger ambitions for his houseboat…
Rick wanted to sail his houseboat from Newfoundland, across the Atlantic and eventually land in Ireland. It was a goal that was unheard of. Houseboats are generally not built for sailing cross-atlantic.
Nonetheless, he invented his strange 20-foot vessel out of lumber and polystyrene. But did his unique vessel stand up to the daunting waves of the Atlantic Ocean?
When Rick called the Canadian Coast Guard and disclosed his mission, they were naturally concerned. They thought that Rick’s houseboat wouldn’t survive the journey and strongly advised him not to go.
The houseboat should have stayed at Rick’s home in Canada, so why was it here, halfway across the world? And where was Rick?
After learning about his story, Greg immediately feared the worst. Did something happen to Rick? “Something must have changed drastically for this to happen,” said Foxtrap Marina member Rodney Mercer.
“He had a clear idea of what he was building and what he wanted to do. [I was] surprised to see it set adrift with that note.” What did the note say?
The note read: “I, Rick Small, donate this structure to a homeless youth to give them a better life. No rent. No mortgage. No hydro.” Once, the news about his note went public, people from far and wide flocked to County Mayo to see Rick’s strange creation for themselves.
The growing crowds eventually forced the authorities to remove the sensation from the shore. They placed it in storage in hopes of Rick coming to reclaim it. But that led to another mystery…
Since his solar-powered houseboat washed ashore, Rick Small’s whereabouts have remained unknown. Locals in his hometown in Canada claimed that since his boat disappeared from the harbor, nobody has seen him.
Although it’s not unusual for him to live off the grid from time to time, many still wonder whether he was on the boat when it sailed across the Atlantic.
In Ireland however, Rick Small’s houseboat was gaining so much attention that some companies wanted it declared a local landmark.
His selfless gift to the town’s impoverished, and the story of the houseboat arriving in Ireland became the stuff of legend. Especially Rick’s core message…
The boat had somehow drifted more than 20,000 miles from the Canadian island of Newfoundland to the Irish coast. And it wasn’t just to set sail to complete a journey, it also had another purpose.
Rick wanted to inspire other people to explore solar energy as a viable alternative to carbon-based fuel. Did he achieve it?
Greg is no stranger to having to deal with strange things washing up on the Irish shore, but still, he and his team had never seen anything like Rick Small’s solar-powered houseboat before!
Wherever Rick is, we know that his amazing determination to innovate, and the spirit of his gift, will live on for years to come.