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Valparaiso Safety Cole Adams Intercepts a 1986 Message in a Bottle

My nephew, Cole Adams, spends a lot of time crushing things–mostly the dreams of his football opponents! But at our last family Thanksgiving before COVID, he used his beefy football strength to crush something a little different: an old message in a bottle he found on a Caribbean beach way back in 2018. Now, he needs help finding the author.

Cole has just finished his senior year at Oak Ridge High School in Tennessee in the midst of the worst global pandemic in generations, after helping take ORHS to second in state in their division in the fall, when he played as #23, at Slotback, H-back, WR, and FS (See highlights here). And, the big news: He’s signed as a safety with Valparaiso for the coming year!

Cole Adams Valparaiso Safety Finds Message in a Bottle

Cole’s on-field versatility is fitting, since he’s pretty darn versatile off the field, too. There can’t be many other football players who slay their GPA, have a great sense of humor (i.e., can quote every line from every episode of The Office, ever!), and spend their free time hunting treasure on deserted beaches. But that’s Cole.

I’d be willing to bet Cole Adams is the only incoming freshman safety at any college in the US, in any division, that has found a message in a bottle. You think?

When Cole found this fragile, ocean-battered message in a bottle on March 21st, 2018, he could tell it was old. He kept it safe until we could open it together at his grandpa’s “lab” for Message in a Bottle Day 2019. He’s bulked up a bit since this photo!

Cole Adams With Message in a Bottle on the Beach “Message in a Bottle Day” is a strange holiday celebrated only by my family every year or two when we all get together and open whatever messages we have found lately. The date changes every time!

Cole Adams with Message in a Bottle on Message in a Bottle Day 2019 Cole Adams' Message in a Bottle Unopened 1

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Cole Adams' Message in a Bottle Unopened 2

Cole Adams' Message in a Bottle Unopened 3

Cole had waited and waited and WAAAAITED for almost two years to open this bottle! So on the day after Thanksgiving, we headed into the “lab”.

Of course, Cole’s older brother Jacob was with us, too, and Jacob was a linebacker for Oak Ridge at the time, so it ended up being about 50% message-in-a-bottle opening and 50% good ol’ fashioned wrassling.

Cole Adams and Jacob Adams

How Cole Adams Opens a Message in a Bottle: CRUSHPOWER!

Somehow, our trusty dremel tool was missing, and Cole had to find a different way to open the bottle.

Jacob stepped in to help “tackle” the problem…

Jacob Adams Helping with Cole Adams' Message in a Bottle

Luckily, one of Cole’s defining characteristics–besides his encyclopedic knowledge of The Office–is his ability to see challenges differently from others and solve problems with a high level of creativity.

Cole Adams Preparing to Open Message in a Bottle

Ultimately, Cole decided to “open” his bottle in a way I have never seen: He used his beefy football strength to wield a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers to simply crush the neck of the bottle. The neck, of course, is the strongest part of the bottle. Oh, to be 16 and have super strength! Actually, he might have ended up smashing the neck with the pliers… No one managed to capture this moment on video, but I’m going with bottle-crushing super-strength.

But, of course, he had to crush it delicately, since he didn’t want to damage the brittle paper inside.

Cole Adams Opening Message in a Bottle

Cole Adams Removing Message From Bottle

Our whole family crowded around Cole as he unrolled the message.

“What does it say?!” my wife Kate asked.

Cole leaned in, scanning the paper…

Cole Adams Examining his 1986 Message in a Bottle

“October 13th, 1986!” Cole called out as we all cheered.

“Wooo!!!” my brother-in-law Blake hollered, “We got an old one!!!”

NINETEEN EIGHTY SIIIIIIIX! That meant this message was 32 years old when Cole found it! It was literally twice his age!

1986 was a good year – the year of movies like Stand By Me and Crocodile Dundee and The Color of Money; the year of Paul Simon’s Graceland and R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant, The Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, Metallica’s Master of Puppets and The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead. On top of all that, this little boy’s message in a bottle!

Close Up of Cole Adams' 1986 Message in a BottleCole carefully, gingerly flattened the message and read it out loud:

This is a friendly …(note?)… from someone (wh)o comes from the other side of globe. Please kindly write back if you come across this bottle to San Martin I … Ivaran Agency New York, NY One Exchange Plaza 10006 USA. By the way I’m Bobby Narra. Thanks.

Cole Adams Transcribing 1986 Message in a Bottle

Close Up 2 of Cole Adams' 1986 Message in a Bottle

Well, who on earth was Bobby Narra? And what was the Ivaran agency? And who / what / where was San Martin? An island? A city?

Mysteries Abound in Bobby Narra’s 1986 Ivaran Lines Message in a Bottle

Cole immediately wondered if he could find Bobby Narra online. He used all the usual tricks, Google, Facebook, etc.

The problem wasn’t finding a Bobby Narra — the problem was finding too many Bobby Narras!

There are a ton on Facebook. It would be impossible to determine if any of them is the right Bobby Narra. Also, this person may go by Bob or Robert or Rob today.

This was a bit depressing, so we took a quick break for more wraaassling.

Then got back to work 🙂

A Message in a Bottle, A Skyscraper, and a Dead Cruise Line

At first, we naively assumed that One Exchange Plaza was Bobby’s actual address. Then we looked it up… Ha! A person would not live at One Exchange Plaza, because it is a 400 foot tall, 32 story office building! Woops.

One Exchange Plaza New York City

The center building is One Exchange Plaza in New York City, the address given by Bobby Narra in his message in a bottle. Photo: Google Maps Street View.

But that raises the question: Why would Bobby list this as his address? Why not a home address? More on this in a minute…

We made another mistake, too. We assumed that “San Martin” was the name of a place Bobby visited on his cruise. Maybe he meant “Saint Martin”?

But no! “San Martin I” was the name of the ship he was on! Part of the Ivaran Lines fleet. Ivaran built ships that carried both cargo and passengers, for complicated reasons related to profitability and docking priority… You can read about it here or here or here if you happen to be interested in the history of cargo and passenger ships.

Ivaran named its ships after Southern California’s Channel Islands, and one of those islands is San Martin. Thus, the ship:

Cole Adams' Message in a Bottle Sent From Ivaran Lines San Martin I

San Martin I. Photo: skipshistorie.net

So, Bobby Narra sent his message from San Martin I while cruising somewhere in the Atlantic or Caribbean in 1986, and that ship belonged to Ivaran Lines. Guess where Ivaran Lines was headquartered in 1986?

One Exchange Plaza, New York! That made us wonder… Did Bobby work for Ivaran?!

In a perfect world, Cole would simply call Ivaran Lines and ask for help finding Bobby Narra. But… the company no longer exists. The fleet sold to CP Ships in 1998, and the company has been resold and renamed a few times since then.

Searching for Bobby Narra: Cole Adams Seeks Author of 1986 Bottled Message

So here we are: My nephew Cole Adams has this amazing, 35-year-old message in a bottle, including a full name, a date, and an address…but we cannot find the author.

Unless…we get this story in front of Bobby Narra’s eyes!

This mystery needs solving, and it could be you who is the missing link, you who finds Bobby Narra. And wouldn’t that be extremely, extremely cool?

Meanwhile, if you are a football fan, keep your eye on Cole…There’s more to that new Valpo Safety than meets the eye!

***Click here to find me on Facebook and like my page for more true message in a bottle stories! YOU could be the next one to solve a message in a bottle mystery! Click here to learn more about messages in bottles, and you can always contact me.