SA message in a bottle finds its way halfway around the world


An American chef living on the Cayman Islands, which are located in the Caribbean Sea close to Cuba and Jamaica, couldn’t believe her eyes when she picked up a bottle with a message inside it while walking on the beach. The message had been written about five years ago in Durban about 13 000 km away and the bottle then thrown into the sea.

The message was written by 13 Winston Park Primary School Grade 3 girls who’d been set a task by their teacher Judy Cornish to write about their weekly school subjects and lessons.

“It was a regular activity of Judy’s – to ask her class to write a message, put it in a bottle and then to throw it into the ocean during a class excursion,” the school’s computer teacher and manager of its Facebook page, Jacqui Fouche, says. Judy couldn’t be reached for comment, nor the group of girls who are now all in high school.

Jacqui says on this occasion Judy asked Captain Alexey Sotnikov who was at the helm of the Atlantic Runner that was anchored in Durban harbour at the time to throw the bottle overboard on the way to Canada.

Alexey did so on 29 October 2008, throwing two bottles into the Atlantic Ocean, one with the girls’ message and one with a message from a group of boys at the same school.

The boys’ bottle has yet to be found but nearly five years later Sherri Hillman (45) was out hunting for shells on the beach on the Cayman Islands when she discovered the girls’ bottle. “I happened to look down and saw the bottle,” Sherri told YOU on Facebook. “I noticed there was a cork in it and what looked like to be a message. Unsure if it was the reflection of the sun I picked it up and yes, there was a paper rolled up inside the bottle.”

Unable to contain her excitement she immediately contacted the school; they also couldn’t believe the bottle had drifted that far. Sherri’s discovery has sparked loads of comments on Facebook and she now hopes to visit South Africa and the school in the not-too-distant future.

-Christiaan Boonzaier

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