On the morning of July 26th, 2016, Kristin Morin was out for a walk on Cape Neddick beach in York, Maine, with two of her four children. The out-of-the-way beach was quiet, and the tide was low. Perfect beachcombing conditions.
“There’s an exposed sand bar,” Kristin wrote in her message to me, “plus some tide pools with crabs, snails, small fish, climbing rocks, and the incoming water temperature isn’t too cold for swimming.” In other words, plenty of ways for the kids to keep busy while Kristin scanned the beach.
That’s when it happened.
“I was on the side of the beach,” Kristin wrote, “and my 5 year old was exploring. I almost stepped on the bottle, it was just sitting there between the rocks.”
“I picked it up and looked at it. It was full of murky water. I noticed the cork, but didn’t see the papers inside until I took a closer look. I had never found a message in a bottle before. The bottle was very small, just over 2.5 inches. The area where I found the bottle is underwater 90% of the day. If there had been a storm, it could have been buried by sand and sediment when the tide came up again.”
But amazingly, Kristin “rescued” this bottled note before it met that grizzly fate.
“After finding the bottle,” Kristin wrote, “I called my daughter over to show her. Having the sand sifter at the beach was her idea. I remember her putting it in the bag of beach toys, and I questioned why she was bringing it. It was one of those things we never used at the beach. I was wrong, she was right. I admit it!”
They were able to use the sifter to sort out the contents of the waterlogged bottle.
“The first thing I noticed were all the little strips of paper with dates on them (2/8/2016, 1/14/2016, 1/28/2016),” Kristin wrote, “They were all from Jan and Feb 2016. This wasn’t an old bottle–less than 6 months. I saw the word “University” on one of the strips. Two of the papers had writing on them “You are my hero” and “Bless Lisa, hear her comp…” Some of the papers were pulpy and mushy when they came out of the bottle, but nothing could be done.”
Kristin speculates that the dates are due dates for assignments.
“The handwriting was female,” Kristin continued, “Possibly “Lisa” was the friend, daughter, or partner of the writer/sender of the bottle. Schools usually don’t end mid-winter, however, someone who is getting their PhD might have had due dates for different parts of their dissertation.”
Kristin’s theory that Lisa was involved in academia matches the tiny bit of writing from the message. In some fields, friends and family can attend a dissertation or thesis presentation or defense. The word “hear” on this scrap could refer to hearing Lisa defend her dissertation. Also, the fragment “comp” could refer to an “oral comprehensive exam” which can be a synonym for a dissertation or thesis defense.
We might be able to make sense of some of the scraps of paper, but there was something else in the bottle–something mystifying.
“There were also small shells in the bottle,” Kristin wrote. “They didn’t seem similar to the shells that were found on that beach or other beaches in the York.”
Did the author send the bottle from a boat at sea? Did they send it from shore? Why include shells? There are so many unanswered questions with this message in a bottle!
Kristin clearly thinks about these questions, too.
“This story intrigues me because someone took the time to write out a blessing for Lisa,” Kristin mused. “I look at the scrap of paper with “Bless Lisa” on it and try to finish the sentence. Is the next word ‘hear’ or ‘heal’?”
If the word is actually “heal,” Kristin thinks the note might acknowledge treatment–possibly at a university hospital–for some kind of disease, like cancer. In any case, Kristin hopes to learn the rest of the story.
And that’s where you can help, friends! This is a serious mystery, and there’s very little to go on. There’s only one way this message in a bottle is going to be solved, and that is by sharing it far and wide. Please take a second to share this post if you can! Facebook, Twitter, smoke signals to your neighbors…whatever! This will be especially helpful among folks in the American northeast.
Kristin found this message in a bottle in the Gulf of Maine, and the currents are different there than most of the east coast. Here are the currents near Kristin’s find:
So, to put it simply, Kristin’s bottle was most likely dropped in the water north of where she found it, like northern Maine, New Brunswick, or Nova Scotia. However, it is possible it was dropped in the ocean off Massachusetts or New Hampshire, then circulated within the Gulf of Maine. It even could have come from further south, like Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, or Pennsylvania, swept up north in the Gulf Stream, and then gotten sucked into the Gulf of Maine.
Kristin wonders: “What happened to Lisa and the person who wrote the blessing? Was it an accomplishment or Graduation or some kind of treatment? If I could,” she writes, “I would tell the person who wrote the note that her blessings were heard and continue to live on. The bottle now rests, with the note and shells inside, on my fireplace mantle. I would also like to let Lisa know that whatever she was going through, her story could make her the hero to more than just the writer of the notes in the bottle.”
Let’s find Lisa! Hero–nay, Shero of the bottled note!