Please Send This to My Aunt

Found 3 August 1881, Oak Beach, Long Island, New York.

In a bottle:

YACHT MARGARET, July 14, 1881. We were wrecked in a heavy north-east wind off Faulkner’s Island soon after the sloop Commerce left us; two of the crew were washed off while furling the jib topsail. Please send this to my aunt, and address Mrs. W. H. Parsons, Rye, N. Y.

[New York Times, 7 August 1881]

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Sixteen Days Without Water

Found March 1896, Waipu Cove Beach, Bream Bay, New Zealand.

In a bottle, written in pencil:

A lost and starving man’s request. – Should any person happen to find this bottle, will he be kind enough to make it known at some newspaper office that will report of what my fate has been. – i.e., lost at sea in an open boat off the coast of Australia. I am nearly exhausted for want of fresh water, and don’t know where I am. Sixteen days without water is awful. God forgive me. – ANTONY W. SHORT.

Bream Bay is in the Northland Region of New Zealand’s North Island, more than 1,200 miles from the coast of Australia.

[New Zealand Herald, 20 March 1896]

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Seen Whale

Found September 1894, River Carron, Scotland.

In a bottle:

11th August, 1894. — Seen whale. Boat capsized; drowning off Dunbar. To my wife, Jeanie Bryce. God help you. Forget and forgive. — D. Bryce, Bo’ness.

The River Carron runs into the Firth of Forth, at the mouth of which sits Dunbar. Borrowstounness, commonly known as Bo’ness, is also on the south bank of the Firth of Forth.

[Aberdeen Evening Express, 4 September 1894]

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A Pretty Little Boy

Found May 1873, off Scottish coast, near Dundee.

In a soda-water bottle, corked and sealed with wax, inside an 11ft shark:

On board the Beautiful Star, Sunday, 1st September, 1872.
We have cross’d the line, and all’s well. Last night the Captain’s lady had a pretty little boy.
“Heaven bless the little stranger,
Rock’d on the cradle of the deep;
Save it, Lord, from every danger,
The angels bright their watch will keep.
Oh, gently soothe its tender years,
And so allay a parent’s fears—
A father’s love, a mother’s joy;
May all that’s good attend their boy.”
ANNETTE GORDON.

The 11ft shark was one of three caught within the space of a few weeks by Scottish fisherman. The shark’s carcass was presented to the Dundee Museum, and opened in front of a large crowd. Inside were found parts of cod, dogfish and seal, a man’s bonnet, and a soda-bottle containing a note written “in a lady’s neat hand”. The bottle was smashed open, and the note was read aloud to the spectators, who took pieces of the broken bottle as souvenirs.

The Beautiful Star was an Aberdeen-built clipper that sailed between Britain and Australasia. Enquiries found the ship in Lyttelton, New Zealand, where a Captain Bilton confirmed that the captain in command in 1872 had his wife on board, and “she was confined as stated”.

[Huddersfield Chronicle, 21 February 1873]

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Death Stares Us In

Found 22 March 1892, Dog Island, near Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Picked up by fishing boat captain Samuel Chance, in a moss-grown, long-necked and tightly-corked bottle, hastily scrawled on a piece of wrapping paper, with $15 in paper money:

The finder, whosoever it may be, will use this money as his own. We are sinking. Death stares us in —

“Here the note breaks off, and there is no signature, neither is the name of the vessel given,” reported the New York Times. The bottle appeared to have been in the water for a “very long time”.

[New York Times, 24 March 1892]

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