A special story for Echo and everyone else waiting to hear from someone dear to them that is far away. =================== Paolina and Ake Viking were married in Sicily in the autumn of 1958, thanks to a far traveling bottle. Two years earlier Ake, a bored young Swedish sailor on a ship far out at sea, had dropped a bottle overboard with a message asking any pretty girl who found it to write. Paolina's father, a Sicilian fisherman, picked it up and passed it to his daughter for a joke. Continuing the joke, Paolonia sent off a note to the young sailor. The correspondence quickly grew warmer. Ake visited Sicily, and the marriage soon followed their first meeting. Surviving hurricanes Fragile as it is, a well sealed bottle is one of the world's most seaworthy objects. It will bob safely through hurricanes that would sink great ships. And for most practical purposes glass lasts forever. In 1954, 18 bottles were salvaged from a ship sunk 250 years earlier off the English coast. The liquor in them was unrecognizable, but the bottles were good as new. It is impossible to predict the direction a bottle will take. Of two bottles dropped together off the Brazilian coast, one drifted east for 130 days and was found on a beach in Africa; the other floated northwest for 190 days, reaching Nicaragua. Speed is also bound to vary according to wind and current. A bottle might be completely becalmed or, if caught up by the gulf stream at it's raciest, might travel along at four knots and cover as many as 100 miles a day. The longest voyage The longest bottle voyage ever is thought to have been made by a bottle known as the Flying Dutchman. It was launched by a German scientific expedition in 1929 in the southern Indian Ocean. Inside it was a message, which could be read without breaking the bottle, asking the finder to report where he found it and throw it back into the sea. It apparently caught an eastgoing current, which carried it to the southern tip of South America. There it was found, reported, and thrown back again several times. Eventually, it moved out into the Atlantic, then again into the Indian Ocean, passing roughly the spot where it had been dropped, and was cast ashore on the west coast of Australia in 1935. It had covered 16,000 miles in 2,447 days, a respectable average of more than 6 nautical miles a day. Charts compiled from bottles When he was postmaster general for the American colonies, Benjamin Franklin realized that, because their whaler captains knew the currents much better than their English counterparts, American ships were crossing the Atlantic much faster than the British mail packets. He therefore compiled a chart using both the whaler's lore and information he obtained by dropping bottles into the Gulf Stream and asking the finders to return them. The information he recorded is little changed today. Since then the British and U.S. navies have used bottles extensively to compile intricate charts. And the movement of oil slicks, mines, and even fish have been predicted with the help of seaborn bottles. Of course a number of bottles have been dispatched containing strange messages. Elizabeth I once received an intelligence report by this means and was so disconcerted to find it had been opened by a boatman at Dover that she appointed an official uncorker of Bottles and decreed that no unauthorized person might open a message carrying bottle, on pain of death. In 1875 the crew of the Canadian bark Lennie mutinied and murdered the officers. A steward who was spared because he could navigate steered them to the French coast, telling them it was Spain, and surreptitiously dropped several bottles over the side revealing the whole story. The French authorities found one, boarded the ship, and arrested the surprised mutineers. Torpedoed destroyer A message found on a beach in Maine in 1944 read: "Our ship is sinking. SOS didn't do any good. Think it's the end. Maybe this message will get to the U.S. someday". It was identified as coming from the USS Beatty, a destroyer torpedoed with heavy loss of life somewhere off Gibraltar on November 6, 1943. In 1953, a bottle was found in Tasmania 37 years after it had been dropped overboard by two Australian soldiers on their way to France in a troop ship. The mother of one of the soldiers recognized the handwriting of her son who had been killed in action in 1918. Delayed message The strangest case was perhaps that of Chunosuke Matsuyama, a Japanese seaman who was wrecked with 44 shipmates in 1784. Shortly before he and his companions died of starvation on a Pacific coral reef, Matsuyama carved a brief account of their tragedy on a piece of wood, sealed it in a bottle, and threw it into the sea. It washed up 150 years later in 1935 at the very seaside village where Matsuyama had been born.