Florida couple discovers message in a bottle sent from Scotland more than 30-years-ago
The concept of sealing a message away in a glass bottle and sending it drifting out to sea is a romantic one, but not altogether practical. It's good for children's stories or the subject of a song by The Police, but when you send one out you can never really expect it to work out as you would have hoped.
Still, it was a fun activity for a class of schoolchildren to take part in one day in 1985. The kids from Forfar, Scotland, had likely forgotten all about it by time it was actually found, over thirty years later.
Florida residents Ruth and Lee Huenniger stumbled across a bottle under a fence near the coast and noticed that inside was a message. Incredibly, the message inside was still readable. The letter had been covered in transpaseal to preserve it from water damage, which had seemingly done the trick. It read:
"We are learning all about pirates. We would like to see how far this message goes. Please write and tell us where you found this bottle. We are class 213, Chapelpark Academy Street"
Ruth and Lee managed to read the return address and decided to send a letter back to the return address, not knowing that it was from such a long time ago. Ruth Huenniger explained how they came across the letter shortly after Hurricane Irma:
"Lee found it after Hurricane Irma as he was checking for damage along a fence in our homeowner's association. It was a large plastic bottle, like a Coke bottle and it was frosted over and you could not see very well inside. Lee could not get the top off of it but saw a corner of the paper near the neck of the bottle. He was going to put in the recycle bin but decided to cut it open.
It was several weeks maybe six before we received a response. We threw the original bottle out because we thought we were not going to hear anything else about the note."
The reply took longer to come because the school had changed location in 2007, but the letter still found its way back to the current staff. Eventually they received a reply from a recently retired teacher who had narrowed the letter down to one of her classes from the eighties. Fiona Cargill, from Angus, Scotland, wrote:
"It's amazing. I liked to teach a project on pirates because it helped develop a lot of different skills. One part of that would involve getting in groups, writing a letter and sending a message in a bottle out to sea and seeing if it ever came back.
I believe it is one class of primary 2/3 in particular because one of the children was related to a trawlerman in Arbroath who would take the bottle in their boat and throw it a bit further out so that it was less likely to just wash back ashore.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the pupil who wrote the letter but looking back there's an error where they meant to write 'street' which I found quite amusing. Stupidly, I forgot to get them to date the letter which really would have helped in narrowing it down."
Once the story went viral and started making the rounds across the internet, various ex-students spotted it and shared some memories.
This amazing discovery likely took everyone by surprise, especially those that took part in the exercise at that school. While it was extremely unlikely to happen, somehow he bottle ended up making its way across an entire ocean unharmed, although it looks like it didn't reach any pirates as the kids may have hoped.