Message In A Bottle


    Released in The Bahamas and found in Florida, this message in a bottle has several connections to Manhasset

    Captain Ken Tokar, John Thomson III, Peter Pabon, Ryan Tokar, Frank Castelli, Jimmy “Dinghy” Carcheitta, Joe Oliveri, and Phil Romano. Not present for the photo Rob Monch.
    (Photo provided by John Thomson III)

    John Thomson III was on a trip with friends in Abaco, Bahamas when he decided to throw a message in a bottle into the ocean. A tradition from when he was a kid on his parent’s boat, Thomson and his friends signed a note, and dropped the bottle in the ocean.
    What he was not expecting was for someone to find it. Twice.

    Thomson described the incredible story and the journey of the message he sent out to sea:

    “In March, I was on a bareboat charter with seven friends in Abaco, Bahamas. On March 7, we sailed South in the ocean off Abaco and the idea popped into my head to launch a message in a bottle. I made up a note, had the whole crew sign it, and put it in a bottle along with my business card. I had done this numerous times as a kid and never had one returned.

    Then on June 20, Patrick Callan came into my store asking for me. He tells me his daughter Melissa C. Donaldson found my message in a bottle on June 4 while walking her dog on the beach near her home in Jupiter, Florida. When she saw the note, she recognized my name. It turns out that her father knew my grandparents and my aunt from Manhasset and we were all members of Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. It also turns out his sister lives three houses down from me in Manhasset. A crazy coincidence.

    The beach where the bottle was found. (Photo provided by John Thomson III)

    The odds of someone finding my bottle and then the odds of being from the same home town and actually knowing each other is astounding. It turns out that someone else found the bottle while walking on the beach in the Bahamas. On March 30, Elizabeth Handwerker was walking on the beach, pickup up debris, when she came across my bottle. She opened it, added her own note and then she and her husband dropped it off their boat off the coast of Florida. The odds of a message in a bottle being found twice is astonishing.”

    The note that Thomson had put in with his business card included the date, signatures and a promise for a “drink on them” if the finder is ever in New York.

    When Elizabeth Handwerker found the bottle on the beach, she added her and her husband’s information and re-launched it while traveling to Stuart, FL. This was how Melissa Donaldson came across the bottle on the shore of Jupiter Island, Florida.
    Thomson and Donaldson got in contact, and Donaldson sent an email recapping her experience of finding the bottle.

    “My dog walk (we live in Hobe Sound, Florida on Jupiter Island) was literally the day before I was leaving to head North for the summer, so it was a quick last visit to the beach for the dog and I. I do walk on the beach often with the dog, and have never seen a note in a bottle before. I found the large, clear, very thick bottle with your note inside. It was secured with black electrical tape that I could not open on the beach, so I took the bottle home. My husband, Craig, could sort of see the note through the bottle, and knew it was from a fisherman. He suggested we wait to open the bottle until our son (who, as you now know, is a salmon fishing guide in Iceland) returned home.

    A scan of the notes showing each entry.
    (Photos provided by John Thomson III)

    Charles opened the bottle and, upon reading it, I recognized your name, as our families were members of MBYC “back in the day”. The bottle had been opened once before I found it, in Abaco by Elizabeth Handweker.”

    Donaldson calculated that the bottle traveled about 85 nautical miles before it arrived at Jupiter from Abaco.

    The bottle traveled a total of around 180 miles from where it was dropped to its last destination.

    An astonishing series of events, this message in a bottle had an incredible journey to end up in the hands of someone with connections to Manhasset. The odds of the bottle being found in the first place were slim, and it is incredible how it ended up with someone with roots in Manhasset.

    Next time you find yourself by the ocean, throw a note in — you never know who may find it!


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