A model boat launched by schoolchildren in America sailed over 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to wash up on the east coast of Shetland where it was found by Dunrossness youngsters on a family walk.
John Falconer, 10, and his sister Jessica, 11, spotted the boat below the cliffs near the Croft House Museum, Boddam, on Sunday.
And when they inspected it more closely, they were delighted to discover it contained a stack of letters from pupils of Morristown-Beard School in New Jersey, around 35 miles from New York.
Grandfather Dave Falconer said: “We were able to decipher most of what was in the letters. They were talking about their families and they how they liked to travel and how it would be really good if this boat was found somewhere that they could maybe make some penpals.”
The metre-long fibreglass vessel was floating upside down below the cliffs near Boddam when Bell’s Brae pupil John alerted his family to it during their walk.
John’s father – also called Dave – went down to retrieve it and found it was quite badly damaged. Nevertheless, they managed to prise open a compartment holding a bundle of letters, as well as other items such as a baseball, dollar bills, and a flash drive.
Grandfather Dave said: “Unfortunately the letters were soaked but we dried them in the sun on Sunday and we were able to read a fair bit about the children and their home life.
“They all indicate they are 10 or 11 so they are much the same age as my grandchildren, who are keen to make contact with them.”
He added: “When John goes back to school he’ll inform his teacher and maybe they will try to link the classes up.”
The boat was launched from America in December 2016 and its progress was monitored until February this year, by which point the tracking device had become damaged or lost.
Dave Falconer Snr has tried to make contact with the New Jersey school but they are on their holidays at the moment.
His grandson John said he was “excited and shocked” by the find.