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Lybster message in a bottle found after 26 years


By David G Scott

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A message in a plastic bottle thrown into the sea at Lybster in 1994 has turned up on an Orkney beach after travelling around 100 miles.

Johanna Gilbert was walking her dog on Stywick beach on the Orkney island of Sanday when she came across the small plastic bottle in amongst some pebbles at high tide.

The plastic bottle was found on an Orkney beach over 26 years after it had been cast adrift from Lybster. Pictures: Johanna Gilbert
The plastic bottle was found on an Orkney beach over 26 years after it had been cast adrift from Lybster. Pictures: Johanna Gilbert

"I always keep a lookout for interesting finds but this was the first message in a bottle I’ve found," said Johanna.

Securely sealed inside the bottle was a paper note that had become split in two but containing a clearly legible name and address.

It said: "Please return to: David Bremner, 9 Main St, Lybster, Caithness, Scotland" and was dated 27/10/94.

The message inside the plastic bottle had the Lybster address of David Bremner.
The message inside the plastic bottle had the Lybster address of David Bremner.

David's mother is still at that address but he now lives close to Wick and was delighted to hear about the find from Johanna.

"I am very grateful to Johanna Gilbert for tracking me down to let me know of her find," he said. "I'm surprised at how long it took to travel so little distance. I'd forgotten all about it."

David would have been 13 at the time he cast it adrift and fellow Lybster man, Andrew Gunn, thinks it may have been connected to an annual event held at the village harbour.

Andrew said: "They used to do a ‘bottle race’ from the harbour for the Knotty/RNLI day."

Johanna Gilbert was walking her dog on Stywick beach on the Orkney island of Sanday when she came across the small plastic bottle.
Johanna Gilbert was walking her dog on Stywick beach on the Orkney island of Sanday when she came across the small plastic bottle.

The Lifeboat Day event is usually held in August but perhaps there was another similar event in October of that year or David just wanted to find a penpal in a faraway place.

It seems likely that the bottle was trapped by coastal rocks and recently freed up by a storm to continue its journey to Stywick beach.

Johanna said she has also found over 100 Russian corks while beachcombing in the area as well as survival water rations and a pipe fish skeleton.

With our clearer understanding these days of how plastics affect the oceans, David's message in a bottle is no doubt a rare find to come across in 2021.

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