Fortean Times


Teenage dreams of love, environmen­tal advice and a dead man’s ashes wash up after years crossing the world’s oceans


While clearing up beaches in South Ferriby on the Humber Estuary in North Lincolnshi­re, the Scunthorpe Litter Pickers group found a bottle with a message in it dating back to 1966. It had originally been launched by two 15-year-old girls, Jennifer Coleman and Janet Blankley, on 9 August that year, containing a message asking any single boys over the age of 16 and under the age of 18 to write back. After being traced to Australia, Coleman said that the bottle had been found only a few yards from where the girls had thrown in into the sea. “I think it must have gone out a little way, and then came in on the next tide,” she said. [UPI] 7 Apr 2022.

A bottle that washed ashore in Brittany, France, was found to contain a message from Jonathan ‘Ivan’ Saunders who was working as the engineer on a fishing boat from Gloucester, Massachuse­tts, named the Hannah Boden, dated 20 April 1995 and thrown overboard near Puerto Rico. The message described the boat, listed the crew, gave its release coordinate­s and asked whoever found it to reply to him with the date and location where it was found, and had Saunders’s address at the bottom. He had also put a dollar in the bottle with the letter. CBS Boston couldn’t find Saunders, but did locate the boat’s captain, Linda Greenlaw. She said: “I lost track of Ivan many years ago and probably haven’t even thought about him in the last 20 years or so, but would love to reconnect with him. It’s just a really fun way to do so, say, ‘Hey look, somebody found your note’,” adding that dollar bills are usually placed into bottles so that finders will open them and not think they’re trash. [UPI] 24 Mar 2022.

During a walk on Castle Beach in Falmouth, Cornwall Crispin Benton picked up a bottle he found on the tideline. In it was a message that had been launched from the Bahamas by a sixyear-old Canadian girl named Anna 21 years before. “It was high tide, so it was likely it had freshly washed in. I picked it up, then I thought ‘Oh my goodness, there’s a message in there’ and got a bit excited,” said Benton. The message said, “Please don’t pollute. Thank you,” and gave a contact address for a finder to reply to, but Benton said that an online search revealed it was now an industrial estate; he remained hopeful that Anna would hear about the bottle’s discovery and get in touch though. “It’s just one of those things you don’t think will ever happen, to find a message in a bottle. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and to think someone wrote that 20-odd years ago. What’s she doing now?” he said. [UPI] 18 Mar 2022.

Jeff Zimmerman of Cape Coral, Florida, was kayaking off nearby Four Mile Cove in early February when he noticed a floating bottle entangled with a “Happy Birthday” balloon. “It was just kind of intertwine­d with the mangroves, kind of looked like junk,” he said. On opening it he found some ashes and a note explaining they were the ashes of the writer’s deceased brother, whose birthday would have been 5 February; it went on to say: “If you receive this bottle, please throw him back in the water.” Zimmerman didn’t immediatel­y return the bottle to the water as it had started to leak and hoped the dead man’s family would get in touch so he could be placed in a more permanent container. “Your brother went on a kayaking trip with us… and we’d like to preserve this and let other people adventure with him,” Zimmerman said. [UPI] 8 Feb 2022.

Twenty-five years after eight-year-old Joanna Buchan dropped a message in a bottle from a fishing boat off Peterhead in Scotland as part of a school project, it was found 800 miles (1,287km) away at Gasvaer in northern Norway by Elena Andreassen Haga. In her note Joanna describes her pet dog, her school projects, her love of sweets and collecting Blu Tack, and ends with “By the way, I hate boys.” Elena said: “My son Eliah was six when we found the bottle, he honestly didn’t quite understand the fuss at first – old-fashioned fun I guess.” She went on to track down Joanna, now 34, on social media and found that she was a doctor in New South Wales, Australia. “I vaguely remember doing a message in a bottle at

Peterhead Central School that we sent off Peterhead in 1996,” said Joanna. “When I read it, I just died laughing; there’s some really lovely lines in there, like what was important to me at the time. I wish I could tell my teachers of the time, whose idea it would have been.” BBC News, 26 Jan 2022.

Back in Scotland, on the isle of Uig, Andrew Eaton-Lewis found a bottle on the island’s Cliff Beach. On opening it, he found the message was in French and posted a message on Facebook seeking help in translatin­g it. The message, signed by Andre Huet, of Quebec, Canada, was dated 26 January 2020 and was placed in a plastic bag within the bottle to keep it dry. Eaton-Lewis initially thought it was picnic rubbish, but then saw that the bottle had barnacles on it, so took a closer look and found the message. It turned out that this was not the first time someone had found a message in a bottle from Andre Huet – in 2020 Mary Bird found another of his messages in a bottle during a beach cleaning event in Portland, Dorset. “I’m going to send a letter to Andre Huet tomorrow, with my email address,” Eaton-Lewis posted on Facebook. “Hoping he’ll get back to me.” [UPI] 22 Oct 2021.

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