There’s something romantic about sending a message in a bottle. You entrust an important message, usually when you are shipwrecked and stranded on an island, to a small bottle and cast into the vast oceans, hoping that it somehow finds its way to land, and your salvation.
Olivier Vandevalle did just that over 30 years ago – only he wasn’t shipwrecked, he was sailing with his dad when he was just 14 years old. Now, 30 years later, his message in a bottle has been found – but the medium of reply was not what he expected. Rather than use the postal address that he placed on his message, the finder of the bottle used Facebook to track him down and contact him.
Belgian born Olivier launched his message in a bottle in 1977 – the year Star Wars was first released, and now in 2010 he has received a reply.
Lorraine Yates, from Dorset, found the bottle on the beach and decided to look on Facebook for Olivier, and the pair are now Facebook friends.
Olivier Vandevalle, now 47 years old and with two children of his own, commented:
It was so, so long ago that my first reaction when she contacted me was to say “it wasn’t me.”
Then I remembered.
There were 12 of us on the boat that day and we were heading for the Azores.
Suddenly I had the idea of writing a message in a bottle. It’s one of those things that every child does at least once.
Not with the idea of getting an answer but because there’s an air of mystery about the whole thing. You have no idea where your bottle will be going.
Then when you have not thought about the bottle for years and years suddenly this Englishwoman turns up from nowhere and has read your letter. When she e-mailed it to me it all came flooding back.
It was an incredible experience. Where has the bottle been all these years. Was it lying buried under a heap of sand until it was uncovered by a storm? I shall never know.
But the wine bottle was a safe receptacle for my message. My father insisted that we seal the cork with candle grease to make sure no sea water could get in.
The bottle has made its long journey over the course of 33 years, before finding itself in Dorset. Lorraine Yates’ message on Facebook took decidedly less time to reach Olivier.