1983

Meet Kelvin and Sammie Euridge–father and daughter.

Sammie and Kelvin Overlooking Grand Valetta Harbour 1983 Close Up

Ah, wait. They’re kind of far away in that photo… let’s see… Oh! Here we go:

Kelvin and Sammie on Caribbean Universal 1983

It’s September 1983. Ronald Reagan is in the White House. Margaret Thatcher is prime minister. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space. Fraggle Rock airs on HBO. Michael Jordan is still in college.

A 6,000 tonne refrigerated cargo ship has just departed Savannah, Georgia, bound for Somalia, carrying a bit more precious cargo than the ship’s records reflect. The ship is white, black, and red–nothing special, just another cargo ship. But, as for what’s on board…

Caribbean Universal Docked Valetta Grand Harbour 13 November 1983

Kelvin works for the company who owns this vessel–he is Chief Engineering Officer–and the company allows Sammie to travel with him.

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By day, they work and play respectively, visit the bridge, go swimming, and more.

Sammie and Kelvin Swimming in Bitter Lakes : Suez

Sammie and Kelvin Swimming in the Bitter Lakes, Part of the Suez Canal, 1983.

By night, they have another tradition–sending messages in bottles together. Of course, Sammie is too small to reach over the side of the ship herself, so Kelvin holds her up, and she throws the bottle. This tradition takes place at night so they can watch each bottle glitter red or green in the ship’s running lights as it falls to the sea. Every time, Kelvin asks Sammie, “Red or green?” If she wants the bottle to turn red, they go to the port (left) side of the ship; if green, they head to the starboard (right) side of the ship.

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One night, when the ship has chugged far enough away from Savannah that it is cruising in the Gulf Stream–that highway of the North Atlantic–they decide to throw two messages in bottles. Maybe Sammie wants to see bottles turn both colors this night. Maybe Kelvin and friends have emptied a few extra bottles… Hard to say. But, in any case, the bottles go overboard to disappear in the dark ocean waves, and the ship keeps chugging along.

Along the way, memories are made that Kelvin will never forget, and in Sammie, something–some desire to see the world, to explore every corner of the earth and sea–germinates and begins to grow. By age 3, Sammie swims in each of the world’s great oceans, and completes a trans-Atlantic crossing by ship. The world is her playground.

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***

When the ship reaches its destination, Kelvin and Sammie keep right on exploring.

Sammie Euridge on the Equater 1983

Sammie at the Equator in Somalia, 1983.

That’s because they are a very inquisitive team. Just look at Sammie, investigating the shallow seas. Jacqueline Cousteau.

Sammie Euridge at Chismayo : Kismayo Port 1983

Sammie at the Port of Chismayo (Kismayo), 1983.

Even at this moment, as Sammie peeks into the underworld of the ankle-deep sea, the bottles she threw overboard with her dad outside Savannah, Georgia, have been floating in the merciless, harsh ocean for months. Does she remember them? Does she think of them as she goes poking around in tidal pools?

How could something so fragile ever survive on earth as we know it?

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***

Kelvin and Sammie reach home after their journey. However, the bottles they sent off the coast of Georgia remain drifting, floating toward an uncertain future, carrying their own precious cargo.

And here, we zoom out from the bottles. At first, you see them up close, wet and glistening in the sunny sea as waves quietly lap over them. As the camera pulls back, we float straight up from the bottles and watch as they shrink to smaller and smaller dots below us–a shiny spot, now just a white fleck glinting on that deep blue water, and now gone. These invisibly small vessels are forgotten and left to ride the ocean’s currents unseen, anonymous, lost to time and the whims of the sea.

9 Awesome Messages in Bottles Found in 2015

I was totally blown away by how many cool stories there were this year about real messages in bottles. It’s downright inspiring!

Here are some of the coolest stories I came across this year, in no particular order. In 2016, I hope to carry with me the spirit of camaraderie and friendship, hope, healing, peace, and love embodied by these messages and the people (and pups!) who sent and found them.

#1: A Friendship Reignited by a Message in a Bottle

In this story, a group of old friends who hadn’t seen each other much lately finds their friendship revived by the arrival in the mail of a message in a bottle they’d sent together in 1999. It was found in the Philippines and returned just recently. Sweeeet!

Old Friends Note

Photo: KING 5 News


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Top 5 Stories From the Sea in 2015

The ocean was a busy place this year! Lots of incredible, wonderful, terrible, inspiring, alarming, and just downright fascinating stuff happened in the high seas. Here’s a rundown of what I see as 5 of the biggest sea stories this year, delivered countdown style.

#5: The Oldest Message in a Bottle…So Far

Winkler 108 Year Old Message in a Bottle

Photo Credit: Marianne Winkler and Winkler Family

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A Tale of Two Clints – Meeting in Marseille

Marseille Shoreline

Marseille’s shoreline glitters under the Mediterranean sun. Legend has it the first messages in bottles were sent in these very waters a couple thousand years ago by a Greek fellow named Theophrastus who hung out with both Plato and Aristotle.
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A Tale of Two Clints

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I am a sucker for the underdog–the unlikely champion, the surprising winner.
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Reunion in Dresden

Dresden… Dresden… Dresden…

Dresden Dresden Dresden Heart

I thought of the city daily for months before my trip to Europe. I was enchanted by the place, and had been since I was a kid.
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Hot Hamburg(ers) on the 4th of July! Driftwood, Strangers, Oceanography, and a Very Old Message in a Bottle

Imagine you are marching in heat of about 100F, and the sun is intense–no clouds to protect you; imagine you are in a city, with the sun bouncing up off the pavement, and high humidity. You sweat uncontrollably for hours. Ok–now you are with me in Hamburg, Germany on July 4th, 2015. But how did we get here?
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