I was reading this thread and it reminded me of my own experience with "Neptune's mail". The story was in 2000 in Latitude, local papers, number of sailing websites and at least one sailing magazine in Europe
In June of 1996, three sailing vessels from Pittsburg California
ventured on a cruise
from the San Francisco
Bay to Southern California’s Channel Islands. Niunia, a 30 foot Catalina
, Korbut Rose, a 33 foot Hans Christian and Searcher, a 36 foot Catalina
enjoyed a 3 week sail in the Pacific.
Prior to departure, I took advantage of my multi-cultural work environment
at UCSF and drafted a message in six languages (English, French, Spanish, Hindu, Chinese, and Tagalog). The message described in each language the sailing vessels, location and time period, and requested anyone finding the bottle to return in the enclosed envelope a note describing the date and location of the bottle. Wine bottles then had to be “properly” emptied so that I could seal each of 26 bottles. They were weighted with sand so they would float about two-thirds under water
, which allowed them to travel in the current
rather than the wind
. Each were sealed with corks, cotton, and finally with wax. Niunia and Korbut Rose deployed the bottles at various points between Anacapa and Catalina Islands.
The first bottle was found within about 10 days in Oceanside California
. The second bottle was found within a month somewhere in Southern California while a Floridian was vacationing there (location unknown).
Then bottle silence for four years until March 2000.
On the small island of Chi-Chi-jima Japan
, Mr. Sasamoto found the bottle “under the bank of the sea.” He sent the message to Osagarawa Junior High School
with his child, Yuka, where the English
teacher Kanji Suzuta was able to translate the message to the 59 students. Chi-Chi-jima is a small island in the Ogasawara islands (Bonin Islands) which are over 600 nautical miles south of Tokyo – a 25-hour trip by ship. The United States governed the island after World War Two. As a crow or seagull might fly, the bottle traveled over 5000 miles to the island. More realistically, the bottle most likely traveled on the California Current south to the Equatorial North Current, then north on the mighty Kuro Shio Current to Japan
. On this course, the bottle would have traveled well over 6000 miles to the island.
The students of Osagarawa were very interested in English
and posed for a group picture to send back with their message. In the interest of time, this message was send using modern communication modes! I corresponded with them for quite some time.
I was told by current experts that I was lucky to get some answers from only 26 bottles we dropped...
I contacted Proffessor Masaki Kawabe form Tokyo University who thought that superficial Ekman currents also played role in the last leg of bottle’s trip.
Others also dropped bottles (or other floaters) on West Coast
and the response, (or floating) time from Japan was between 2 to 6.5 years. So based on the other data “my” bottle made an average time.