Maya’s marine mail

Ca­ble sta­tion worker picks up sea-mail contact


The Heart’s Con­tent Ca­ble Sta­tion picked up an un­usual mes­sage sev­eral weeks ago. It didn’t show up in Morse Code through the sta­tion’s renowned transAt­lantic ca­ble, the first to link Europe and North Amer­ica.

In­stead, this par­tic­u­lar mes­sage was by a far older method, and took a much longer time to travel a much shorter dis­tance.

“I saw a story (about bot­tled mes­sages) on the news and wanted to try it.

I was sur­prised that some­one had found it.”

— Maya Dal­ley

Still, Tol­son Ren­dell said he was touched when he opened it.

Ren­dell was mow­ing the grass that over­looks the beach across from the sta­tion when he spot­ted the two-litre pop bot­tle washed up on the shore about 150 feet from where the first suc­cess­ful transAt­lantic ca­ble was landed in 1866.

Part of Ren­dell’s du­ties at the sta­tion, where he’s worked since 1991, is en­sur­ing the beach sur­round­ing the his­toric ca­ble is free of lit­ter and de­bris.

He no­ticed the bot­tle had a piece of pa­per inside.

“It was well taped up; it wasn’t even wet,” he said.

He opened it to find a mes­sage dated July 29, 2011, just two days af­ter the sta­tion had cel­e­brated its 145th an­niver­sary.

It was from a nine-year-old girl who lives in Paradise.

Part of the let­ter reads: “My name is Maya. I live in Paradise … please get back to me as soon as you can.”

“Maya” had for­got­ten to in­clude a re­turn ad­dress or phone num­ber. But news trav­els light­ning fast in a small town and soon she and her par­ents Linda and John Dal­ley were lo­cated.

“I saw a story (about bot­tled mes­sages) on the news and wanted to try it. I was sur­prised that some­one had found it,” Maya said, adding she was also sur­prised to find out the short dis­tance it had trav­elled. It hadn’t gone all the way from Paradise to Ire­land, or even from Paradise to Heart’s Con­tent.

It turns out the lit­tle girl had been vis­it­ing her grand­mother, Vera Ge­orge, when she launched the mes­sage last sum­mer — from the Heart’s Con­tent light­house less than a nau­ti­cal mile away from the ca­ble sta­tion.

But the lengthy time and short travel dis­tance hasn’t damp­ened Maya’s en­thu­si­asm for sea mail. “I’m go­ing to try it again the next time I go out there,” she said.

“I’d en­cour­age other kids to try it,” Ren­dell added. “Who knows where their mes­sage will end up.”


Photo by Lil­lian Simmons/spe­cial to The Com­pass

Tol­son Ren­dell dis­cov­ered this mes­sage in a bot­tle washed up on the shore near the Heart’s Con­tent Ca­ble Sta­tion on June 17.

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