Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

B.C. couple gets Australian reply to message in bottle

A couple from the Okanagan are still amazed after receiving an e-mail message in exchange for a bottled message some 12,000 kilometres from where they tossed it in the ocean three years ago.

Brian and Joan Stewart of Naramata, north of Penticton, say they had all but forgotten about the bottle they launched off the deck of a cruise ship while passing Cape Horn during a cruise to South America in March, 2010.

But then a response came out of the blue, from a father and his 14-year-old daughter who last month discovered the wine bottle on a beach near Perth, Australia.

Story continues below advertisement

Phil and Lili Hanley told them they were walking outdoors after a storm when the teen spotted the treasure resting amongst some seaweed on the country's west coast.

The couple say the bottle must have floated eastward from Cape Horn, crossing the South Atlantic and Indian oceans, before emerging near one of Australia's biggest cities.

The Stewarts have since exchanged several e-mails with the Australian family, who sent them a photo of the bottle and its still-dry contents. "They were so excited, they couldn't believe it," Joan Stewart said.

The couple had flung the bottle out to sea on March 22, 2010, as a way to mark their trip. The message included the date, their business card (with home and e-mail addresses) and two U.S. dollar bills for postage inside a sealable plastic bag.

Although Cape Horn is best known for its howling winds, the weather that day was calm and rainy when they dropped it into the water seven or eight decks below. "I really thought it was going to smash when it hit the water," Mr. Stewart said.

Instead, the couple watched in fascination as the corked bottle bobbed in the waves as the ship continued on its way.

Then, last month, the Stewarts received the unexpected e-mail from the family living in the Perth-area community of San Remo.

Story continues below advertisement

"It was just absolutely an amazing thing," Ms. Stewart said. "It could have landed anywhere. It could have landed on a rocky beach, it could have landed on an abandoned beach. The cork could have popped and it could have filled with water and sank."

Mr. Stewart said the result has made the couple feel good. "It's just a nice, heart-warming story to find a message in a bottle," he said.

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at