It may not have been a genie in a bottle, but for two Marine Harvest workers, it was the next best thing.
Recently, saltwater technicians Mike Goodman and Erik Overhoff, both from Campbell River, were doing a routine beach cleanup in an area east of Port McNeill when they stumbled across an old plastic water bottle.
Goodman says the men had noticed some old logging equipment high up on the shore and went to investigate. As they were exploring, Goodman says they saw an old weathered bottle.
“The bottle was actually stuck in some grass up there. It had to have been pushed up by a storm because it was above the high tide line,” Overhoff says. “If we hadn’t found it, probably no one else would ever have because it’s not a beach people just wander on to. It’s pretty remote and really rocky. And it wasn’t going to get washed up onto another beach. We had to give it a hard pull to get it out of the grass.”
Despite the effort to retrieve the bottle, it ended up being initially discarded with the rest of the garbage. Goodman says the pair didn’t see anything out of the ordinary at first because the bottle was so weathered and caked with mud.
But on the way back to the farm, Goodman says Overhoff noticed the bottle was rattling. They unscrewed the plastic cap and much to their surprise, there was a Ziploc bag inside, tied up with an elastic.
Curious, the men opened it up and found not one, but two notes inside.
One was from an 11-year-old boy, known only as Josh from Port Moody, who wrote his letter 15 years ago and then threw his message in a bottle into the Pacific Ocean.
Goodman says that in Josh’s note the boy didn’t say where he was standing when he threw the bottle into the ocean or what his last name is but he did leave a date – Wed., Aug. 15 and an address.
He also wrote that he loves sports, is a straight-A student with spiked hair and is the most popular kid in his class.
The second message in the bottle was from Peter MacLaurin of Quadra Island, who at the time was 64-years-old, had found Josh’s original note and added one of his own before throwing the bottle off of the side of the Quadra ferry in November of 2001.
Goodman says that MacLaurin wrote in his note that he found the bottle with Josh’s message at Hurricane Flats – on the beach near his home. He wrote that he hoped the bottle would make it past Seymour Narrows.
Goodman says that not only did it make it past the Narrows but it also would have floated past Johnstone Strait, around several little islands and through a couple of narrow channels in order for it to have ended up where it did.
“I just find it amazing,” Goodman says. “We were in the middle of nowhere and it was just sitting there. It’s pretty neat.
“For 15 years it was in pretty good shape,” he adds. “The crazy thing is there was no water inside.”
After making the discovery, Goodman and Overhoff – who found the bottle on July 30 – wrote their own note and threw the bottle back into the ocean near Blackfish Sound.
“We are now returning this bottle back into the ocean with hopes that someone else will find it and return it to the ocean with a new message inside,” the men wrote in their note.
They each also added their own words of wisdom.
“Never give up and never stop dreaming,” from Goodman and “Live life to the fullest,” from Overhoff.
Goodman says they were only following the instructions when they wrote their own messages.
“Peter asked for whoever finds it to write a note and put it back in,” he says. “It’s like a chain letter – a slow one.”
Goodman says the pair waited to send the bottle off until they were closer to their Marine Harvest farm to give the bottle a better shot at ending up in someone else’s possession.
“We wanted to put it in a place where it has a chance to go somewhere,” Goodman says.
In the meantime, the pair are hoping to connect with MacLaurin, whose son got in touch with Goodman via social media, and the boy known simply as Josh who would now be around 26-years-old.
Goodman says MacLaurin’s son was delighted that Goodman found him.
“He said he remembered his dad talking about finding the bottle and Josh’s message and he let his dad know the bottle had been found,” says Goodman who figures MacLaurin would now be 79.
As for Josh with no last name, Goodman says he Googled the address Josh left on his note and found a phone number. He says he called once and there was no answer and he has yet to follow up.
Goodman says he’s still hoping to track him down and let him know his message was received, 15 years later.
Notes from a retiree from Quadra Island, left, and a young boy from Vancouver, right, were discovered in an old 15-year-old bottle by two salmon farmers recently.