Oscar Brown of Evans Head

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE: Oscar Brown of Evans Head with the note he found floating offshore. It had travelled from Vaunatu to Evans Head in 39 days in an empty bottle of sparkling Spanish wine.

FLOATING on the rippled surface of the ocean off Evans Head was a message sealed tightly in a small glass bottle.

Who wrote it, how far it had travelled and how long it had remained unopened were a mystery.

When you consider the magnitude of the ocean, the odds that 12-year-old Oscar Brown would stumble upon the tiny object border on the miraculous.

Rowing about 20 meters offshore on Monday night with dad, Jamie Brown, Oscar almost didn’t spot the unusual object.

“We were rowing and I spotted something out of the corner of my eye and we bumped into it just off the lookout,” he said.

“I thought it was just a bottle, I thought it was just a piece of rubbish, then I saw a cork in it and a piece of paper so we rowed back and got it.

Southern Cross University marine biologist Danny Bucher says the bottle would have been caught in the swirling currents around New Caledonia and could have remained there for months, but instead appears to have been caught up fairly quickly in the East Australian Current, which starts a short way west of Vanuatu and runs in a great sweep across to Far North Queensland and then down the coast. Southern Cross University marine biologist Danny Bucher says the bottle would have been caught in the swirling currents around New Caledonia and could have remained there for months, but instead appears to have been caught up fairly quickly in the East Australian Current, which starts a short way west of Vanuatu and runs in a great sweep across to Far North Queensland and then down the coast.

Bottle

The bottle after its journey from Noumea.

“I was pretty excited and surprised that it had come across us. I’ve seen stories about where they find ones from the 80s and really old, so I thought it would be kind of old.

As soon as Oscar and his dad got home, they got to work trying to open the sealed bottle.

But the build-up of slippery algae and goose barnacles made it a difficult task.

“When we got back home I couldn’t open it, so we smashed it with a brick and read the letter. It was pretty cool,” Oscar said.

TAKE NOTE: This note travelled 1500km in 39 days before it was found floating in a bottle off Evans Head. TAKE NOTE: This note travelled 1500km in 39 days before it was found floating in a bottle off Evans Head.

The message inside the bottle revealed it had been dropped overboard from the P&O cruise ship, the Pacific Jewel, on January 30 a day before the ship harboured at Noumea in New Caledonia.

It is believed the little bottle travelled over 1500km carried by the east Australian current and covering a distance of about 40km a day.

David Jones, a spokesperson for P&O cruises, said while the discovery was a pretty exciting find for the father and son, dropping messages in bottles overboard is not something the company encourages.

“Even though dropping a bottle into the ocean is as old as the maritime world itself… the golden rule of ships nowadays is nothing should go over the side because we have a commitment to sustainable cruise tourism,” he said.

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the oldest message in a bottle spent 97 years and 309 days at sea.

Unfortunately for romantics, it wasn’t a love letter. It was a drift card recorded by Captain Brown as being released on 10 June 1914 as part of a scientific experiment to chart water currents.

The bottle was discovered by fisherman Andrew Leaper from the UK on 12 April 2012, only 9.38 nautical miles from where it was originally deployed.

via Noumea to Evans: Message in a bottle’s South Pacific tour | Northern Star.