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1985 Message in a Bottle Found

*This 1985 message in a bottle was found back in 2008, but I just found out about it, and I think it’s super cool!*

When Donald Wylie was just 11 years old, he cast a message in a bottle into the sea hoping for a penpal, according to the University of St. Andrews. Well, it took longer than he hoped, but he also got more than he asked for. 23 years later, he gained real-life friends instead of a penpal. Wylie launched his 1985 message in a bottle in the Orkneys, and it washed ashore in 2008 at St. Andrews, northeast of Edinburgh. A Scottish message in a bottle, through and through! It’s not the oldest Scottish message in a bottle, but at 23 years, it’s downright impressive.

Scottish Message in a Bottle - Donald Wylie's Message

Donald Wylie’s message in a bottle, sent in 1985, found in 2008. Photo: The Telegraph.

Once upon a summer’s day in 2008, a group of staff and students from the University of St. Andrews passed an afternoon cleaning up trash on the local beaches, and were surprised and delighted to find Wylie’s message in a bottle. They all worked together to track him down–and when they did, he was just as surprised to hear from them!

1985 Message in a Bottle Sender and Finder Meet on Beach Where Bottle Washed Up

Actually, everyone was so excited about it, that St. Andrews invited Wylie down to visit the beach where his message was found, and returned it to him.

1985 Message in a Bottle - Donald Wylie with his message on the St. Andrews beach where it was found.

Donald Wylie with his 1985 message in a bottle on the beach were it was found. Photo: University of St. Andrews

They even orchestrated a meeting between Donald Wylie and Mary Stevens, who found the 1985 message in a bottle! Stevens, according to the University of St. Andrews, was “a mature student at the University and member of staff at ELT (English Language Teaching)”. So she’s no stranger to studying communication 🙂

1985 message in a bottle - Mary Stevens and Donald Wylie meet on beach.

Mary Stevens with Donald Wylie and his message in a bottle, which she found after 23 years. Photo: University of St. Andrews.

According to the University of St. Andrews, Roddy Yarr, Environment and Energy Manager for the University of St Andrews said, “The message in a bottle was really quite a find and surprised us all, and we’re delighted to be able to reunite the owner with this piece of history. It really is quite remarkable that the bottle should be found after all this time – who knows where it has travelled to in the last quarter of a [century].”

What Does the 1985 Message in a Bottle Say?

Donald says that his mother actually penned the note. But the idea was to find penpals, to connect with the outside world.

1985 message in a bottle - Full text and closeup of message.

Donald Wylie’s 1985 message in a bottle. Photo: University of St. Andrews.

Well, folks, I’m a sucker for this story, because the finder and sender of the message met, and did so on the beach where the bottle was found. That’s what I’m all about! It reminds me of when I met Janet Rockware on the Delaware River bridge where she sent a message in a bottle in 1981 after I found it in the Caribbean in 2008.

I’m also a sucker for it because I know one thing to be true, and it might be the only thing I am smart enough to know for certain. But I am certain about this: every new friendship makes the world a better place. The fewer people who are strangers to each other, the better. This is the magic of messages in bottles, and I tend to think we need all the magic we can get.

***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! And you can always contact me here to ask questions or share stories.

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