Message in a bottle

One man from PEI has perfected the message in a bottle mailing system

Walk any ocean beach and you'll find plenty of beach booty blown by the wind and pushed by the currents to where it now sits. One of the rarest of finds would have to be a message in a bottle. The mail service of those stranded on a deserted island isn't very reliable, unless your name is Harold Hackett.

The Tignish, PEI, resident tossed 5,000 messages into the Atlantic, reports the Toronto Star, and received more than 3,300 replies from more than 10 countries. He continues his hobby today, posting 300 messages a year.

Want to send a message of your own? Here's how Hackett, now known world wide as the "Message in a bottle man," sends his:

Ocean Spray bottles only. He buys plastic ones in bulk from a local recycling depot or neighbours drop them off.

Not handwritten. Sending more than 300 notes a year would cramp even a dedicated scribe. Instead Hackett, who doesn't own a computer, photocopies notes on different coloured fluorescent paper and then hand writes a date sent. The note includes a receipt to record when and where it was found.

Wind warning. Timing isn't important; weather is. In PEI Hackett prefers west winds, which push the bottles away from the island's shores. An offshore wind will usually work best.

Patience is key. While some bottles are found fairly quickly it can take years. Hackett's record is 13 years. And of course there are plenty that have never been found.