Nfld. & Labrador

Houseboat washes up in Ireland with note donating it to 'a homeless youth'

A houseboat apparently built by a Canadian environmentalist — whose solar-powered bike brought him to Newfoundland last year — has washed up in Ireland.

'Give them a better life than Newfoundlanders choose not to do,' reads message from Rick Small

This houseboat, believed to belong to environmentalist Rick Small, washed up in Ireland after apparently drifting across the Atlantic Ocean. (Submitted/Ballyglass Coast Guard)

A houseboat apparently built by a Canadian environmentalist — whose solar-powered bike brought him to Newfoundland last year — has washed up in Ireland.

The BBC reported Monday that the Irish Coast Guard was alerted to the boat drifting off the coast of County Mayo, on Ireland's west coast Sunday.

When it was brought ashore, the boat — about the size of a camper van, with solar panels on the roof — had no one aboard, but a note left behind indicated it was abandoned.

This note was found inside a houseboat that washed up in Ireland. (Submitted/Ballyglass Coast Guard)

"I, Rick Small, donate this structure to a homeless youth to give them a better life that Newfoundlanders choose not to do! No rent. No mortgage. No Hydro," read the message.

Michael Hurst, officer in charge with the Ballyglass Coast Guard unit in Belmullet, Mayo, said he didn't know what to make of the craft.

"My main concern, when I did see it, was number one to actually secure the vessel so that it doesn't drift out and cause any dangers to other shipping. And number two was to make sure there was actually nobody on board the vessel."

Small, from Thunder Bay, Ont., came to Newfoundland and Labrador last year on a bicycle outfitted with solar panels to help power the bike.

He could not be immediately reached for comment.

The BBC reports the houseboat is believed to have been in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's as recently as September. In August, the boat was spotted adrift in nearby Beachy Cove.

Hurst said the boat was in relatively good shape when it washed ashore on the other side of the North Atlantic.

Inside it was dry, there were wires hanging from the solar panels, debris that look to have fallen from shelves littered the floor and there were two truck tires, possibly to be used to protect the boat's sides when docked.

He said the note makes him think the boat's owner might not have expected it to make it as far as it did, but that it would wash up somewhere in Canada.

"The owner, my thinking, probably didn't expect it to make it as far across the Atlantic," he said.

Hurst said an Irish group that restores old buildings for tourism purposes has already been in contact about the houseboat.

"If it pans out this way, and if Rick Small doesn't actually require the vessel back, they may use it locally as a tourist attraction and restore it to the best of their ability," he said.