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Lily’s Message in a Bottle Solved!

Woooohoooo! That’s right! Lily’s message in a bottle solved! Remember when I told you about finding Lily’s message in a bottle, and how I opened it with my family on Message in a Bottle Day 2017? Well, it turns out she got my letter after all! But not quite as quickly as I had hoped. I came home one day to find a mysterious package from someone I didn’t know on my doorstep. You won’t believe what I found inside: ANOTHER message in a bottle from Lily! But this one found me!

Lily's Message in a Bottle Solved - Lily's second message in a bottle to me

Lily’s second message in a bottle to me.

Lily's Message in a Bottle Solved - Clint holding Lily's second message in a bottle

Inside was a lovely letter from Lily herself. She explained that she had gotten my letter, and that she had a dog and a bird and two sisters and a mom and a dad. What a lot of great things to have 🙂

Lily's message in a bottle solved - Lily's letter to Clint

There was also a letter from Lily’s mom, Kate (also my wife’s name, of course. You just get used to little coincidences like these with messages in bottles). She explained that the Lily’s message in a bottle was inspired by a children’s book, and put me in touch with Lily’s dad, Mark. Mark explained how the bottle actually came to be, and found its way to sea:

“It all began aboard the boat I currently captain. Lily was five years old and often came to work with me.  To keep her occupied, I would let her sit at my desk and draw and scribble notes that she would then stuff in my empty Perrier bottles. At that time we were reading one of my favorite children’s stories, “Paddle to the Sea” about a boy who carves a small wooden canoe and sets it afloat in a tributary to Lake Superior with the inscription “I am Paddle-to-the-Sea, please put me back in the water”.

“Lily was fascinated. She was on a mission! She must have asked me a hundred times about putting one of her notes in a bottle and setting it adrift, and of course, I was always too busy, or trying to explain to her that throwing it from the beach would not work well. I Promised her that I would take a note and throw it into the ocean on one of my next trips but as luck would have it, the boat was laid up and we in port for months. Then, while talking to a friend and fellow captain, he told me of his upcoming trip to Bermuda. I saw the opportunity and asked him if he would do me a favor. Then, I jotted a quick note as he was leaving the next day and signed it Lily Mason of 1601 SE 16th St Fort Lauderdale Fl.”

Boathouse of Fort Lauderdale : Facebook

I don’t know why I used my work address and a pseudonym but the name popped into my head as I scribbled furiously. I heard the name used many times as a child by my father when frequenting restaurants, because he could not bear to hear people butcher our real name over loudspeakers.

Isn’t that great? A lot of people suggested that I just look up the name of the owners of the address in the note, or that I search for Lily’s parents, or any number of other “public records” searches involving the address on the note and Lily’s last name. I realize that to a lot of folks, these seem like “obvious” ways to find the person behind the note, and sometimes they work. But not all the time…

Lily's message in a bottle solved!

Lily’s message in a bottle solved! This note was signed Lily Mason, but Mason was a pseudonym.

Case in point: Lily’s last name on the message is given as Mason. Lily Mason. Well, as Mark explained above, that’s not her last name at all! As Lily said in her letter: “My dad said that in case the note arrived in the wrong hands.”

So, searching for “Lily Mason” was fruitless, and, even if her parents’ names had been on the note (which they weren’t), it wouldn’t have mattered! NONE of them is a Mason!

Secondly, the address on the note? Yeah–that’s not their house. Looking up the owner of that address got me nowhere. All I learned was that it was a boathouse. It turned out to be the boat house where Mark worked, but I had no way of knowing that, and certainly no one there would have recognized anyone by the name of Lily Mason, because, again, that was a fake name.

Lily’s Message in a Bottle Solved Thanks to Boathouse Security Guard!

It was also interesting to learn from Mark that the bottle was not, in fact, thrown off the end of Dania Pier as I imagined in my first post about Lily’s message in a bottle. As Mark explained above, it was sent by a fellow captain en route from Fort Lauderdale to Bermuda. I am still a little flummoxed by this, because it just seems to me like the bottle should have drifted north, not south.

Anyway, that’s how the bottle got started: Lily wanted to do it…but it was her dad who wrote it…but it was sent overboard by a third person!

Well, Lily and I owe our connection, it turns out, to the security guard at the boathouse! A fourth person in the chain! Here’s how Mark explained it:

“Time passed and I quickly forgot about the note.  One day the security guard at our marina asked me about a letter that had been in the office for weeks with the name Lily Mason. I looked it over and it never occurred to me that it was the one I used years before.  He kept asking me over and over and I was becoming annoyed and told him to return it to sender.  There had been so many crew members through the Boathouse it could have belonged to anyone. Finally he opened it and had a feeling that it might belong to my daughter.  The minute I saw the handwriting on note I laughed knowing it was the letter I wrote for Lily. Of course Lily was over the moon.”

Lily's Message in a Bottle Solved - Clint's Letter and Photos to Lily Mason

The letter and photos I sent Lily and her family.

“To our amazement, some of the people we told about it had seen the message on Facebook weeks prior [thanks to Message in a Bottle Hunter readers sharing the post!] and were interested in the story, not knowing that it was my daughter Lily.”

An Adventurous Family Joins the Message in a Bottle Party

It was such a joy to hear from Mark and Kate and Lily. With some families, you can feel their love and warmth no matter how far apart you are. This is the case with their family, and I am totally honored to know them now.

Here are a few photos Lily sent me 🙂

Lily's Message in a Bottle Solved - Lily Mason with her dad

Lily's Message in a Bottle Solved - Lily Mason with her mom

Lily's Message in a Bottle Solved - Lily Mason with her dog

Can you even handle the sweetness of this photo?!

Well, as I have mentioned before, people who send messages in bottles tend to be adventurous folks. Take Chris and John from England, who have sailed across the Atlantic together, and in John’s case, around the world. Or Kelvin Euridge, whose job takes him all over the globe from one week to the next, and who never misses a chance to climb whatever mountains are at hand. Adventurousness is just a characteristic of message-in-a-bottle senders.

Lily’s family fits right in among this adventurous crowd. Mark is a yacht captain, and has sailed the high seas for years. Lily, adventurous herself, often accompanies her dad. The whole thing puts me in mind of Roald Dahl’s Danny, Champion of the World. Adventurous parents raising adventurous kids–you gotta love it 🙂

So here we are. With Lily’s message in a bottle solved, another friendship is born. Another day dawns and I find myself amazed again, and humbled by this hobby that allows me to make friends with people I never could have met any other way. It’s magic, I tell you! Magic!

***If you liked this story, click here to find me on Facebook and like my page for more message in a bottle stories! You never know when YOU could be the one to solve a message in a bottle mystery! Click here to learn more about messages in bottles, and you can always contact me with questions, ideas, or stories.