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Message in a Bottle


There is something romantic and adventurous about the whole business of messages in bottles. It's a very basic form of international communication in which a message, typically written on paper, is inserted into a glass bottle with a strong cork or top, and then the bottle, complete with internal message, is cast adrift on the open sea, to wander about in the ocean currents until by remarkable luck, someone finds it, opens it up, and reads the message.

Considerable optimism is required to use the "Message in a Bottle" method of communication, as there is no certainty of the message ending up anywhere, and it has been suggested that the loss rate is quite high.

A bit like the legends of treasure maps, the idea of messages in bottles has some curious notions attached. If you saw an old bottle floating in the sea, and saw there was a piece of paper inside, and you fished it out and opened up the message, you might guess it would say something like "Help! I'm marooned on this desert island at Latitude and Longitude [coordinates]. Please, someone come and rescue me! I'm sending this message on [such-and-such] date, in the optimistic hope that someone will read it, and come and help!".

The communication is inherently one-way, and you can't really reply by jotting a note and putting it into another bottle and slinging it into the sea. However, if someone was marooned on a desert island and they knew the Latitude and Longitude, and you found out by finding a message in a bottle they'd launched, you might be able to call someone nearby and see if they were still there to be rescued!

Messages in bottles sometimes take a less emergency-related tone, for example "I would like to get to know other people who believe in adventure, so I'm writing this note and sending it by message in a bottle, as I believe luck and serendipity will put us in touch. My address is [address]", and then you could write a letter to that address and put it in the post.

The thing about the post, is that you can put an exact address on the letter and it will almost certainly get there, for the price of a stamp. In contrast, a message in a bottle is sent in the hopes that anyone anywhere will receive it.

How many messages in bottles get received? Who knows? In the page about choosing lottery numbers by messages in bottles, I had an idea it might be about 6 in 49, but I am guessing it could be a lot less than that!

My ideas about the concept of the message in a bottle have been augmented since I accidentally lost a digital movie camera which was supposed to be on a tethered balloon. As you can guess from the story this far, it was the "tethered" bit that failed. So now I'm offering a reward for finding it! It was last seen drifting along in the sky in the direction of Amsterdam. Although there wasn't much "message", apart from an odd video movie clip of a balloon launch, I had an advantage that I used to do quite well when people look for DV5300 in some searches. Then again, that was before Google went down the toilet.

Since then it's occurred to me that I might be able to tell people about this interesting website by dropping messages in bottles in the drink. Let's see if there's much response.

So here's my message in a bottle (You can read it online, but the offline in-bottle versions have code numbers and other additions on them).

I asked my friend at the website hosting company Vivostar to help me print a few off. This gets the message into a paper form, which is more compatible with transhipment in an old glass bottle than html is. Yes, OK, I could put a USB memory stick into a bottle, but I think that could start to get expensive.

Finding bottles in which to insert the messages is not difficult, as there are plenty under the tables, under piles of stuff, etc, as would be expected.

After the messages are inserted into the bottles and the corks secured, the whole lot will be loaded onboard the trolley, and then I'll take it to the bridge! I'd better check the tide tables before deciding when to go.


Also see drink. Now offering free international communications envelope with every purchase.