The Tides That Bind ~ A Message in a Bottle Story


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Message in a Bottle Documentary – The Tides That Bind

Back in July, a dream of mine came true: A short documentary about my odd little hobby was born! Director Nicholas Natalicchio, a professor at Drexel College in Philadelphia, heard about my work when I was searching for Ray from Philly a few years back. He wanted to help, and not just with finding Ray. Nick’s vision was to create a documentary film that shared my mission of delivering long lost letters from the sea and making friends out of strangers in this improbable and lovely way. When he called me to discuss making this film, it sparked an adventure that took us on some wild rides over the next two years! I am so grateful for the experience, and humbled to be the subject of Nick’s film, The Tides That Bind.

I have to say, it is strange being the subject of a film – especially now that it is showing at festivals around the country. I’m just some guy!

At the same time, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story with everyone who sees the film – but only because it allows me to tell the stories of the friends I’ve made through messages in bottles. I have found that they are are wonderful, interesting, curious, thoughtful, kind people. Watching cable news, you’d never believe it – but finding messages in bottles and meeting people on the other end has taught me that most people are good and kind and friendly. Meeting total strangers from all walks of life this way gives me hope, and reminds me that we all have more in common than not. We are not each other’s enemies; if anything, the forces that plot to divide us are the bad guys. If my story conveys anything, I hope it is this: The strangers all around you could be your friends if you just had a chance to connect. You don’t have to find a message in a bottle to test this.

The other thing about this film that is hugely important to me is that it gives me the chance to share with everyone what I mostly find when I go looking for messages in bottles: trash. Almost entirely plastic. I don’t know exactly what my place is in the movement to stop plastic pollution and clean up what can’t be stopped, but it is a movement I believe in deeply. Aside from cleaning up plastic trash from beaches where I beach comb, The Tides That Bind has given me my best chance to date to tell people about–and show–the shocking, depressing amount of plastic pollution I encounter on beaches everywhere I go.

That’s the thing about the tides that bind us – the tides tell stories and connect us all, but they also reflect back to us our relationship with the ocean and with each other.

Lastly, I am deeply grateful to Nick for agreeing to donate 10% of net proceeds from the film to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Alagalita–and Captain Charles Moore in particular–were the first people I ever saw on television showing the world the exact bits and pieces of plastic trash that I had found blanketing shores everywhere I went. I saw Charles Moore on David Letterman’s show in 2010 showing viewers a poster board covered in everything I saw when I went looking for bottled messages: plastic lighters, toothbrushes, bottle caps, and more. Now, our little film may never actually turn a cent of profit (documentary shorts are not exactly huge money-makers!) but if it does, we will contribute at least something to fostering Algalita’s vision of a plastic-free ocean.

So that’s what The Tides That Bind is all about: a little magic, a lot of friendship, and a dream of a cleaner ocean.

I hope you’ll like and follow The Tides That Bind on Facebook, where you can keep up with screenings in case it comes to your area.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me all these years and for believing messages in bottles deserved a documentary! I hope you get to attend a screening – and who knows? I may just come too.


1970s Message in a Bottle from Sunderland, Tyne & Wear Found


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Message in a Bottle from Sunderland, UK Found

This highly unpromising bottled note has been lying around my house since I found it a few years ago in the Caribbean. I suspect now that the message in a bottle had been sailing the high seas for decades when I found it – perhaps since the 1970s…

1970s Message in a Bottle from Sunderland UK

I know I should have opened it when I found it, but I had other bottles to attend to! And this one looked… well, miserable, wouldn’t you say?

Anyway it washed ashore on a deserted Caribbean island where I picked it up and that was that.

Until now. Continue reading

Help Solve a “Hopeless” Message in a Bottle from Finland!


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Messy Message in a Bottle Found on a Rocky Shore

Once upon a time, waaay back in 2013, I was limping along a Caribbean shore with a hurt foot, when I stumbled upon this bottle that looked about as bedraggled as my foot felt. Just before this journey, I had tripped off of the curb in front of my house in a  lively flail, causing something in my foot to snap loudly enough to turn the heads of passersby. After that, the foot mostly hung limp at the end of my leg as I dragged it along behind me, and I made very distinctive tracks in the sand… So I was grateful for a break from walking to examine this apparently hopeless message in a bottle. Inside the bottle was not a “message,” exactly, but a discouraging wad of paper with some letters visible here and there.

Clint Buffington with hopeless message in a bottle on beach

I found this battered message in a bottle on a rocky shore…

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Message in a Bottle Science Project from Charleston Student(s) Found!


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I Found a Charleston Student’s Message in a Bottle from a Science Project

Messages in bottles have been used by scientists since the mid 19th century to study ocean currents. Indeed, the oldest messages in bottles ever found have been from science experiments. It’s no wonder that they are still used to study ocean currents. I had never found a message in a bottle from a science project in a bottle until I stumbled upon this one. It appears to be a student’s message in a bottle from a larger project.

Message in a Bottle Science Project - on the beach

Message in a bottle #79 contained two halves of a scroll and a piece of string.

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Corinthians Message in a Bottle Found – Seeking Mike and Britt!



Corinthians Message in a Bottle Found on Padre Island

Beachcomber extraordinaire husband and wife team Mike and Sandy were combing the shores of Padre Island in Texas in early April when Mike stumbled upon a wee bit of treasure – A message in a bottle! Once he opened the message he found it contained a verse from the Bible, as well as a pair of names that were a bit hard to read. Since no last names were offered, he’s hoping to share the message here and hopefully connect with the authors of this Corinthians message in a bottle, who seem to be named Mike and Britt…

Corinthians Message in a Bottle on Padre Island Shore.

Corinthians Message in a Bottle on Padre Island Shore.

Corinthians Message in a Bottle.

Corinthians Message in a Bottle.

Mike Seeks Authors of Bottled Note

“I found [a message in a bottle] 4-5-19 on Padre Island National Seashore that I could use some help with,” Mike wrote in an email to me. “It was written on a notepad from a resort in Saint Lucia and the writing was faded but I figured out the message to be a bible verse…1 Corinthians 13:13. BUT, the two first names I haven’t figured out yet. Could be Mike and Britt??? Might be a couple on a weddingtrip/honey moon? Dated 7-2018. I would love to figure out who the senders are and their story.”

Biblical message in a bottle.

Corinthians Message in a Bottle full text.

So that’s the mission folks! We are looking for Mike and Britt who stayed at the Sugar Beach resort in Saint Lucia during July of 2018. Let’s go find them!

More Message in a Bottle Facts, History, Stories, Photos, Video, and Hoaxes

***If you liked this story, click here to find me on Facebook and like my page for more message in a bottle stories. YOU could be the next one to solve a message in a bottleClick here to learn more about messages in bottles, and you can always contact me with questions, ideas, or stories.

49 Year Old Message in a Bottle: Seeking Joel Nathan of Miami Beach!


Message in a Bottle Disguised as Trash

A couple weeks ago, my dad and I were on a little adventure in a far-flung corner of the Caribbean, hoping we might find a message in a bottle or some other beach treasure among all the trash.

Clint Buffington and Bob Buffington message in a bottle

Me and my dad with some of our message in a bottle finds.

We were walking down the beach about 20 or 30 feet apart, when he called out to me.

“I’ve got something I want you to check out, Clint!” He shouted over the wind and crashing waves. “It’s probably trash but I want to get your eyes on it. It’s just some kind of wrapper.” Continue reading