My friends, we have a mystery to solve!
Whoa. That caught my eye! As best I could tell, they Continue reading
My friends, we have a mystery to solve!
Whoa. That caught my eye! As best I could tell, they Continue reading →
Rebecca Whittaker discovered a note in a bottle while walking along Widemouth Bay on November 16th, 2016. After posting a photo of the message online, she connected with the 12 year old sender, Ciara, from Ireland.
Ciara then sent Rebecca a card wishing her Continue reading →
It’s crazy–it doesn’t matter how many messages in bottles I find, each one feels like magic.
Now, I know Continue reading →
Howdy folks! Today’s post is a plea for your help: I found a message in a bottle from someone named Ray who lives in Philadelphia, but I need help finding Ray!
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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This story is about a guy named Clint. Actually, it’s about two guys named Clint, and a woman named Gwen. It’s about adventure, discovery, romance. It’s a story about family, friends, and the rewards that come from keeping an open heart and an open mind. And, in a world we can’t seem to stop trashing, it is about the treasure you can find if you slow down and look closely.
June 2013. I am with my parents on a Caribbean adventure. Every day is us spending time together, catching up, dreaming and scheming, beachcombing, always looking for something, never knowing what until it smacks us.
One morning, the weather is funky, so my mom wisely hangs out at home. My dad and I, because we just don’t know better, decide to head out on an adventure to an uninhabited island in search of beach trash and treasure. The sky is dark, ominous. We paddle to the island in little kayaks.
They feel so safe and secure to our little human bodies–but on the scale of planet Earth, where the clouds that hang over us are the size of whole cities, the kayaks are little toys bobbing on the ocean. Little corks. A single rogue wave would turn us into mere memories. But there we are, paddling out to this little island that actually doesn’t even have a name on Google maps…
There’s no place I’d rather be.
OK OK OK. I lied. The island is not totally uninhabited. It is home to a species of Iguana called the Rock Iguana.
This lizard is a pocket-sized dinosaur. Well, maybe if you have big pockets. They’re about as long as a conch-beater, if you know what that is. If not, imagine a baseball bat that’s had the skinny end cut off. That’s the length of the Rock Iguana. And they are so cool! But they are also threatened–the other other thing that lives here is the native mutt canine–totally adorable dogs, but, if left to live in the wild, a real menace to native wildlife.
To these dogs, Rock Iguanas taste like candy. For a while, this anonymous island Dad and I are visiting was thought to be barren of Rock Iguanas. Thankfully, we see several on our visit. Not a ton, but several. It’s amazing to think how many unique species may be vanishing even in places where there are no humans, simply because we’ve left other destroyers (like feral dogs, adorable as they may be) in our wake.
Dad and I make landfall mid-morning and charge ahead, despite the threatening weather.
In my family, every adventure has its own particular vibe created by the sights and sounds of the day. This adventure unfolds the same way as we discover the strange gifts of the beach. We run into Minnie Mouse…
A creepy baby with a wine bottle on a log, left by a previous visitor (minus the torso):
And the standard mucky plastic trash everywhere, silently creating a plastic layer over the earth safely out of view from most of us. Pine needles rain down, binding the plastic trash in place, covering plastic shrapnel for miles and miles…
We walk on in awe of the contrast between the stunning natural beauty of these beaches we love and the staggering plastic pollution wreaking havoc on the place.
I find myself wondering if I will find a message in a bottle, and if so, what it will look like. Of course, there’s no guarantee of finding anything, so I’m just hoping to find something. But the truth is…there’s this part of me that’s greedy for a big glass bottle with a beautiful sepia-toned note inside from decades ago…Wouldn’t that be cool?! Like Janet’s message in a bottle–you just don’t see that kind of thing every day!
All of a sudden, it happens–the feeling that shoots through my body like lightning where I know something important has just happened but my brain hasn’t sorted it out yet. And then I see it:
That flash of red and white rolled up inside a bottle–I know it’s a message in a bottle!
I pick it up and instantly see it’s a map of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And there’s writing inside! We’ve got a live one! So I call in the wardrobe department before posing–you know, it’s important to look clean and fancy in these moments:
The paper looks like it is strong enough that I could take it out of the bottle right then, but I decide to take it home first.
Dad and I continue hiking for a while before heading home. I find one more bottle with shredded fragments of ancient paper–a hopeless case, but I bring it home anyway.
We load our packs and ourselves back into the kayaks, and paddle back through the increasingly choppy waves, against the wind. By the time we reach the home island, we are whipped.
Once we get cleaned up we decide that the paper inside this bottle looks supple enough to be removed without damaging it. So we give it a try!
When we lay the message out flat, here’s what we find (with home address blocked, of course!)
A beautiful message! The ink is still clearly visible, and there’s tons of writing! AND it’s on a map! I remember at first we thought it might be a treasure map–kudos to Clinton and Gwen for choosing a great piece of paper to write on 🙂
Clinton and Gwen… wow–this guy had my same name! Well, actually my name is just Clint (not Clinton), but still! I wonder if he goes by Clint? And they’re from a place called Peterlee… Where could that be?
You may notice that the send date of the message is March 13th of 2013, and I found it in June 2013. For a lot of people, this would make the message less powerful or meaningful, since it is so young and hasn’t been floating around for decades. For me, though, it makes no difference. In fact, the youth of this message gives me hope that I will be able to find Gwen and Clinton. Besides, surviving even a few months at sea is an impressive accomplishment for a plastic bottle, since they fall apart so quickly in the ocean environment.
All night, I can’t stop thinking about this message in a bottle, about Clinton and Gwen. Will I be able to find them? Will we get along? What are the chances of the sender and finder of a message having the same first name–and a fairly uncommon name at that?
My parents and I hang out with the bottle all night, wondering who these people are, imagining the story that lies ahead. It feels like having company over! Another family adventure, in the bag. Sounds like Gwen and Clinton had an adventure, too! Finally we head to bed, and when I close my eyes, I just see messages in bottles for miles on the shore…
I have a good feeling about what’s to come.
Blaues Wunder, Clint Buffington, Deutsches Hygiene Museum, Dresden, Festung Koenigstein, Festung Konigstein, Frauenkirche, Germany, message in a bottle, Ryan Overton, Saxon Switzerland, Saxony, Schloss Moritzburg, Semperoper
Dresden… Dresden… Dresden…
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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Altona, Angela Erdmann, Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie, Clint Buffington, Flaschenpost, Hamburg, international maritime museum, internationales maritimes museum, Konrad Fischer, message in a botle, Richard Platz, treibholzeffekt, World's Oldest 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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2015 European Heat Wave, algalita marine research foundation, Clint Buffington, Dusseldorf, Energie Pyramide, Frank O. Gehry, German TV Tower, Germany, Inspiration, Kaiserpfalz, Kaiserswerth, Konigsallee, Maxim Gorkiy, message in a bottle, Meteora Grill, plastic, Pollution, Rhein, Rhine, Sabine, Thomas Schonauer
Sabine’s message in a bottle had proven to be such a mystery for so long, I really didn’t know what I expected to happen if I tried to visit her in Dusseldorf…
Nevertheless, July 1st, 2015 I found myself on a Germanwings flight from London to Dusseldorf. I had just flown from Chicago to London the night before on a flight I shared with a former student from 4 or 5 years before–Crazy! It felt like leaving the states was like going through a portal—here on the other side, in Europe, anything was possible.
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May 21st 2011 was a great day. I got to do some beachcombing with my awesome mom, and I found this message in a bottle!