Found: 5 marvelous messages-in-a-bottle


Messages-in-bottles do exist in real life, not just in fairy tales. Source: Andrew Measham / Unsplash

THE OLDEST message-in-a-bottle has just been discovered in the sand dunes of a beach along the coast of Western Australia, and it has got us thinking – what are some of the coolest, most romantic, weirdest or puzzling messages-in-a-bottle to have ever been discovered?

Finding a message in a bottle is often thought of as a far-fetched dream, a romanticized stroll along the beach, something written into fairy tales and novels. But there have been plenty of recorded cases and here a few of the most spectacular finds.

An experiment:

Mentioned above, the oldest message in a bottle was found recently by two Australians as they walked along a beach. Tonya and Kym Illman were strolling along Wedge Island sand dunes when they picked up a bottle to add to their display at home.

They then noticed a little bit of paper rolling around inside. After returning home and drying the bottle, they were able to get the paper out.

The paper had a message printed on it with the date June 12, 1886, which requested the reader to contact the German consulate if found.

Thinking it was probably a joke but still having a glimmer of hope that it might be real, the couple took it a local museum where it was verified.

This recent discovery is now the oldest message-in-a-bottle ever to be found.

Quick thinking:

The tragic story of the Titanic was told through the love story of Jack and Rose in the James Cameron-directed 1997 blockbuster, Titanic.

While Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet respectively) took the audience through a fictional love story, the event on which the film is based on truly did happen, and 1,503 people lost their lives after the cruise liner collided with an iceberg and sunk.

Among those who perished were Jeremiah Burke, 19, and his cousin Nora Hearty, 18, both from Cork in Ireland.

Before they left, Burke’s mother gave him a bottle of holy water and as the ship began to sink Burke wrote a message reading, “From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork,” which he placed in the bottle.

A year later, the bottle washed up only a few miles from his family home… spooky.

An everlasting love:

World War I saw some of the bloodiest battles ever fought. From Passchendaele to the Somme, thousands died and millions more were injured.

Many soldiers knew they might never return home and took every measure they could to make sure their family back home knew they were loved.

One soldier went to great lengths, but perhaps not the most logical, to ensure this.

Private Thomas Hughes wrote a letter to his wife in 1914 and sealed it inside a ginger ale bottle. He then tossed it into the English Channel on his way to France. Sadly, he was never to return.

The bottle did, however, wind up in a fisherman’s net along the River Thames in 1999, and although his wife had sadly passed away 20 years before, the letter was taken to his 86-year-old daughter in New Zealand.


Tinder makes dating as easy as “left, left, left, oh right”. Back before the internet existed, finding love was a little more difficult.

Dances, debutant balls, village discos, and mother-to-mother match-making schemes were a lot more common. But this love story doesn’t fit any of the conventional dating categories – making it even more romantic.

In 1955, Swedish sailor Ake Viking relieved his boredom by writing “To Someone Beautiful and Far Away. Write to me, whoever you are,” before scribing down his home address and popping the paper into a small aqua-vitae bottle then tossing it in the ocean.”

An Italian fisherman picked it up and passed it to his daughter as a joke, but this was no joke for her.

Replying to Viking with, “I am not beautiful, but it seems so miraculous that this little bottle should have traveled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer…”.

A series of letters were exchanged between the two, and photographs, and finally, vows. That’s right, the two got married! Viking moved to Sicily and the couple lived happily ever after.

Escaping a regime:

While on a cruise to Hawaii in 1979, an American couple, Dorothy and John Peckham, wrote notes and placed them inside empty champagne bottles, alongside dollar bills to cover the postage and packaging for the return letters they had requested.

Four years later in 1983, the Peckhams received a response from Hoa Van Nguyen, who had been a soldier in the Vietnamese army before the communist party had taken control.

Nguyen and his brother were floating off the coast of Vietnam when they plucked the bottle out of the sea. They were trying to escape the regime and explained in the reply that finding the message-in-a-bottle had given them the strength to go on.

After exchanging a series of letters, Nguyen asked the Peckhams if they could help his family move to the US. Dorothy and John worked tirelessly with US immigration to make this happen and the families finally met in 1985.