Message in a bottle

Friday, 3rd December 2021

Owner stories

In December 2019, William Haines threw a message in a bottle from Oyster 565/01 Panthalassa on an Atlantic crossing. Two years later, against all odds, it washed up on a beach in the Bahamas.

OY565 190620 BCR 657 1

People have been putting messages in bottles and throwing them overboard for thousands of years – most often as part of oceanic research. The earliest known record of this activity is from 310 BC, when Greek philosopher Theophrastus threw bottles into the Mediterranean as an experiment to prove the sea was formed by the inflowing Atlantic Ocean. Finding messages up to one hundred years old is not as unusual as you would imagine. In fact, the oldest recorded message in a bottle was found in Japan in 1935 – originally launched by seaman Chunosuke Matsuyama from an island in the Pacific in 1784, it was at sea for 151 years.

Given oceanic research bottles are launched in their thousands, with a recovery rate of just 3%, it is incredible that William’s message was ever seen again. Add the issue of marine life growing on bottles, which weighs them down so they sink within 8-10 months unless they are washed ashore, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

Passing the time on the ocean

On 3rd December 2019 William Haines was on a trans-Atlantic passage from Lanzarote to Barbados on Oyster 565/01 Panthalassa with his father, owner Steve Haines. Looking for something to do, William decided to write a note, seal it in a bottle and then throw it into the ocean.

The message read:

Dec 2019
My name is William. I am 10 years old. I put this message in a bottle in the middle of the Atlantic.
Lat 16 degrees 34.29 N
Long 040.5 W
I am asking that the person who finds this letter to email at [email protected] or message +44 7782 XXXX to claim $100 reward!

Fast-forward two years…

Volunteers of Fishing for Plastic, a non-profit organisation that aims to reduce the impact of plastic waste on oceans and beaches around the world, were out on a clean-up on Powell Cay in the northern Bahamas. The Cay is partly owned by the Crown and an area has been set aside as a nature reserve. Margurite, a volunteer of Fishing for Plastic, picked up the bottle and was surprised to find it contained a message. Angela Burns, co-founder of Fishing for Plastic, posted it on a Facebook group called Weird Beach Finds and tried to call the number but could not get through as some of the digits were missing.

Social media sleuths

There was plenty of interest on Facebook and lots of comments on Angela’s post trying to help solve the puzzle. Amongst the comments, Jess Walton said she had emailed MailASail, the company that provided the email address for Panthalassa.

MailASail passed the email on to Gavin Painter, who originally set up the email account for Panthalassa. Gavin got in touch with William’s Dad and put him in contact with Angela. William was thrilled to know his message had been found and now, following the lifting of lockdowns, Panthalassa will be crossing the Atlantic again to arrive in the Bahamas in March. Not only will William and Angela meet, he will also be able to deliver the $100 reward in person. 

Have you ever thrown a message in a bottle from your Oyster and was it ever found? Or have you found one washed up on the shore? If so, please get in touch to share your story.

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