1987 Message In A Bottle Found: “We Tried to Sail Away”–Help find the senders!


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Well, this is a weird one!

Enviro-crusader and “litter picker” Paul Southworth (I am a fan!) was recently out cleaning trash from Arastradero Lake in California–it’s nestled in the San Francisco Bay area. Woo hoo!

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Paul with his trusty litter grabber and bags of junk from litterpicking the O&W Rail Trail in Kerhonkson, NY.

“Arastradero Lake is a pond in the Enid Pearson Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto, California,” Paul told me. “Fishing is allowed at the lake and there is an accumulation of fishing trash floating in the water (tackle, plastic and glass bottles, and other food packaging trash). I have been visiting the pond for the last few months to remove trash using a 12 foot reacher.”

Plenty of trash to pick up, it sounds like. 

Here’s the lake, tucked away near Palo Alto:

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Arastradero Lake Jitze Coupe

Arastradero Lake. Photo: Jitze Couperus.

Arastradero Lake Wandering With Purpose

Another view of Arastradero Lake. Photo Courtesy:

“One day I found a wine bottle floating in an area where debris tends to collect and I dragged it to shore,” Paul told me. When he got ahold of the bottle, he realized it was no normal piece of trash! “It contained a rolled-up sheet of paper,” he said, “faded from sun exposure and soaked with lake water.”

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Paul Southworth’s Litter Picking Finds. One of these bottles contains a note. Can you tell which? Photo: Paul Southworth

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The unopened message in a bottle found by Paul Southworth. Photo: Paul Southworth

When he took out the paper, he found it was covered in writing on both sides–English on one side, German on the other.

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The hand writing is different on each side, but the message appears to be about the same.

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It’s pretty hard to read, right? Here’s what Paul was able to read on the English side:



Please, help us: we are in this place for a stupid disguise that has happened one year ago. We are two guys from Italy and Germany, and we are now on a island in France, near Breton coast. Our parents know where is this place, so if you’d just write to one of them (better to advise both of them) we could be saved in no time; don’t worry about the date because we will probably stay here until somebody will receive this message: it is the only sheet of paper and the only bottle that we have and this island is feared from the fishermen and the people around here because of old legends. The nature here provides us water and fruits but obviously we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives here. We tried to sail away with a wooden boat that we built, but currents are too strong around here. If you don’t want to help us please just put the message again in the bottle so that somebody else could read it. We hope you will understand our English and that you’ll do

(Remainder of this page is very faded. There is a postscript, signatures, and dates.)

On the reverse is a similar message in German which is difficult to make out due to the handwriting and the fact that my German is not that good. It concludes with the legible address:

Daniele Rodolfi

Via Bodrio 21

43100 Porporano, Parma


Stefan’s address is also there but not legible.

So there you go. That’s what we have. A message in a bottle, claiming to have been thrown from an island off France, but mysteriously found in a landlocked lake in California, written in English and German, asking for the finder to contact a parent in Italy. Any questions? 🙂


Is this message a joke?

“If it’s a joke,” Paul told me, “I think it’s a pretty good joke, well executed and made more interesting by the long time it spent in the water. I would love to hear from Stefan or Daniele even if the note was a prank.”

Paul has tried to track down the Daniele whose address is listed, but so far has received no response. Maybe if enough of us spread the word about this message, Daniele and or Stefan will see it and we’ll learn the story behind this bizarre message!

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Message In A Bottle Found: Who Are The Men In This Photo?


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Manon van der Molen is the kind of person who picks up trash off the beach. Plenty of people get upset about plastic trash at sea, mucking up our beaches. But Manon? She actually does something about it.

“I hate all the trash in the ocean,” Manon told me. A kindred spirit! She has even volunteered with the Archelon Marine Turtle Protection Association.

“My kids are amazed by all the plastic in the ocean and do not understand why people do that. See–even kids understand!” Indeed. I think kids often understand these things better than adults. It’s obvious, even to children, that too many of us are not taking care of the ocean. But we could.

So, when Manon was walking the beach with her family–her husband and three kids–on May 5th, 2017, at De Haan, Belgium, she was picking up plastic trash. That’s a great way to help! And sometimes, among the trash, we stumble upon a little “treasure”–a reward for cleaning the beach, in the form of an unexpected human connection. A reminder, perhaps, that while most of what’s floating around in the ocean is simply trash that shouldn’t be there, still…maybe, just maybe, one in a billion or so pieces of flotsam can create an amazing and beautiful connection between strangers.

“That’s when I found the tube,” she told Continue reading

1967 Message In A Bottle Discovered Inside Concrete Slab in Australia


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When you hear message in a bottle, I bet you think ocean. I know I do. After all, the most famous message in a bottle stories revolve around the sea…

The Police Message in a Bottle Cover

A&M Records cover for The Police’s single, Message in a Bottle.

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WWI Messages in Bottles from Australian Soldiers, Sent on Christmas 1915, Told of Female Stowaway


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New Year’s Day, 1916, three messages in bottles washed ashore right beside each other near Portland Bay, Victoria, Australia. Three!

All three bottled notes were written by Australian soldiers from New South Wales, sailing on their way to WWI. The incident, including the story of how one bottle was forwarded to the mother of the writer, was shared by the Koroit Sentinel and Tower Hill Advocate on January 22nd, 1916.

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The whole thing is crazy! Can you imagine finding three messages in bottles washed Continue reading

Mystery Message in a Bottle: Ray from Philly has been found!!!


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Can you tell I’m excited?

RAY FROM PHILLY HAS BEEN FOUND! And guess what? He’s awesome.

Y’all, when I found this message in a bottle, I confess, I thought it was a hopeless case. The bottle was falling apart, and the writing was so faded I couldn’t see anything. I was bummed.

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The Coastal Postal Service of Scotland’s St. Kilda


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What if I told you that an entire community once used messages in bottles as their actual postal system?

Meet the Islands of St. Kilda.

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Message in a Bottle Reunited Woman With Father 85 Years After His Death


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Imagine you lost your parents years ago. Imagine that today–decades after they passed–a stranger delivers to you a final letter from them. You thought you would never hear from them again. But here they are, one last time.

Emily Crowhurst never imagined she would receive such a letter. Through love, war, loss, and a dash of genealogical good fortune, that all changed one day in 1999.


Private Thomas Hughes, a soldier since 1905, was a member of the Durham Light Infantry in England. He was among the first soldiers called to the war in 1914. states that Private Hughes and his brothers-in-arms “landed at St Nazaire and made their way to the River Aisne, north of Rheims, where Germans were dug in. [Hughes] and 40 comrades died on September 21 [1914]. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated with 4,000 British ‘unknown soldiers’ at the La Ferte-Sous-Jouarre memorial.”

Colour Party of the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, June 19th, 1909 (Wikipedia)

Colour Party of the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, 1909. Photo from Wikipedia. Unknown source.

In other words, when Hughes died, Continue reading

Message in a Bottle Archives: British War Ships to Hunt Castaways Down Under?


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In its early days, Australia had two main newspapers. One was The Argus.

On Friday, July 9th, 1909, The Argus told of a message in a bottle found in Singapore. It was signed by two men, Palmerston and Flenn, who asked the finder to send help, as they were “lost in one of the New Guinea islands”.


The brief message simply read: Continue reading

Fearless Explorers: Cremated Sailors of the Seven Seas


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Life is such an amazing adventure that most folks don’t want it to end. And when it inevitably does, some send their loved ones on a final journey. In recent years, a number of beachcombers have stumbled upon human ashes in bottles. In every case, the person whose ashes are in the bottle was deeply loved by their family, and the family chose this gesture as a way of honoring the person’s love of travel or desire to see the world.

Personally, my favorite version of this memorial is the kind that implores the finder to share a drink with the “person” whose ashes are in the bottle.

If you find human remains in a bottle tomorrow, I guarantee a stiff drink is going to make you feel less nervous. Continue reading

Message in a Bottle / Flaschenpost Found! Seeking Jens & Silke, Jirko, Ines & Rudiger, and R. & Lo. Lenz


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Y’all have helped me solve some incredible mysteries. Like the 46 year old note from “Donkeyman” Jimmy Robertson, and the 7 year old message in a bottle from Sabine of Dusseldorf, Germany. Couldn’t have solved those without your help!

I need your help again! We’re gonna solve a “cold case” this time–a message in a bottle found by Stefanie Padilla on Hermosa Beach, CA,  in 2013. In fact, she found EIGHT messages inside one bottle, all from German-speaking folks.

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In fact, Stefanie discovered the bottled notes as they floated to shore! Can you believe it? Here’s the bottle, on it’s way in: Continue reading