A message in a bottle washed ashore in New Zealand last week after journeying for months in the ocean.
Kiwi Ken Fergusson found the bottle at Ninety Mile Beach, on the western coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
At first the local fisherman thought the wine bottle was just another piece of litter.
Concerned that “somebody would be running over it and breaking it,” Ken says that he stopped to pick up the bottle, throwing it on the back of his truck so that he could put it in the rubbish when he arrived home.
It was only later, when he took the bottle out to throw it away, that Ken noticed through the green glass that there was a business card inside belonging to a ‘Captain John Karavolos, Master Mariner.”
So he did the logical thing – he called the number.
‘Captain John Karavolos’ was a name that obviously meant something to the Greek woman who answered the phone when Ken called as it prompted fits of laughter from the woman as she obviously knew who he was talking about.
But that was about as far as the conversation got.
The woman didn’t speak English, and Ferguson cannot speak Greek, so not a lot of progress could be made by the phone call.
“I got a woman’s voice,” said Ken. “She can’t speak English and I can’t speak Greek.”
So, refusing to give up, Fergusson next tried the email address on the card.
A couple of days ago, he received a reply from Captain John Karavolos himself.
“I thought it was pretty cool actually,” Ken said.
In his email Captain Karavolos said that he thought he pushed the card into the bottle, put the cork back on, and may have thrown it out to sea around twelve months ago whilst on voyage between Australia and China.
NIWA oceanographer Dr Phil Sutton said that it is more likely that the bottle was dropped into the ocean in the southern rather than in the northern hemisphere.
“Anything that’s floating gets driven by the wind as well as the ocean currents. Actually, the hemispheres are fairly well separated,” said Dr. Sutton.
Fergusson’s ‘litter-come-letter’ is now in the safe hands of nearby Awanui School.
School Principal Margy Stratton said the mysterious gift has sparked a lot of interest amongst pupils.
“You could just tell by their voices and faces that they thought this was something exciting that they could learn from,” she said.
Captain Karavolos believes the date and location of the bottle’s send-off may be faintly written on the back of the business card.
The students of Awanui School plan to open the bottle soon to find out.