There is something so powerful about the idea of a message in a bottle. It is a significant act for the individual who goes to the trouble of crafting the message and sealing it in a bottle, and it is something of a fortuitous and magical experience for the lucky person finding the bottle and reading the message.

Bottles of every description have contained S.O.S’s, memorials and ashes of lost love ones, pleas for help or aid or love or connection, Political propaganda, poetry, photographs and Keepsakes. Messages in a bottle are, in a very real way, floating time capsules that may be found within a few hours or 50 years.

For hundreds of years, bottles have been set a drift as “determinate drifters“ to track ocean gyres, currents and ocean systems. We know now in this era of climate change awareness that the ocean is in need of no more bottles.

We do however remain curious: have you ever sent a message in a bottle or received one?

For many of us the idea of a message in a bottle invokes the lore of romance and mystery and serendipity. Which is why Lynda (Director, and I somehow concocted the idea of sending our wedding invitations as a message in a bottle 16 years ago now. They were never delivered by the sea however, but mailed rather expensively by Canada Post – but the idea was wonderfully romantic.

The bottle (see photo) was about 6 inches tall, corked and sealed with wax and ribbon. It contained a scroll with an image of lovers floating by Chagall on one side and a message on the other, our wedding invitation hand written beautifully in the form of a sailing ship by our friend Kate Campbell. It also included sand from our beach and some shells.

It all my years of kayaking and floating on the ocean I have never found a message in a bottle. I did find a kilo of marijuana bundled up on an island beach in the Sea of Cortes however, and hockey gloves, running shoes washed up on the shores of Clayquot Sound, but never a bottle.

So here is a thought experiment as we won’t actually throw these bottles in the ocean: before us we have a dozen empty bottles of Salt Spring wild cider with compression tops. Imagine you have 12 sheets of beautiful small linen vellum sheets you picked up at a garage sale along with your treasured fountain pen…

  • What messages do you wish to send out in the world?
  • What messages does the world need to hear from you?
  • If you could name the 12 people you would like to receive your message, who would they be?

Alternatively let us imagine in our minds eye we are on our personal Paradise Beach when a bottle bobbing in the surf is spit out onto the beach. What message would you dearly love to read?

Author Bio:  Peter Allan is a member of our IAJW team.  He is a husband, father, art historian and artist. You can see his other work in the world at and (our cottages make a great place for writing retreats and longer term sabbaticals)!