2013-06-07 / People

Five years later, message received

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


The message that 5-year-old Colby DeGeorge inserted into a bottle and placed in the ocean was found five years later in North Carolina. DeGeorge, now 10, threw the bottle into the ocean from Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk in 2008. (Courtesy photo) The message that 5-year-old Colby DeGeorge inserted into a bottle and placed in the ocean was found five years later in North Carolina. DeGeorge, now 10, threw the bottle into the ocean from Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk in 2008. (Courtesy photo) KENNEBUNK — A predominant historical purpose of sending messages in bottles was to chart ocean tides.

Before the invention of radio technology, occasionally the Navy would drop a message in a bottle into the ocean just off shore to inform their peers on land of enemy locations. The antiquated gesture has since become romanticized in its improbability.

Colby DeGeorge was well aware of this probability when she wrote a message, rolled it up like a scribe, stuck it into a bottle and threw it into the ocean off Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk in 2008. She was 5 years old at the time, and she never expected it to be found.

DeGeorge, now 10, received news that her bottle had been picked up on May 11 by a 13-year-old girl named Annsley and her family on the coast of North Carolina.

It read: “Hi Colby. Yesterday, my parents and I were walking on Shackelford Banks, near Harkers Island, N.C., looking for sea shells and beach treasures.

“We found lots of shells, but the best treasure we found was a green bottle with a letter in it. The bottle was covered with barnacles and we were not able to pull the cork out by hand. Once we got back to our boat, we used some pliers to get the cork out. Inside the bottle was a letter inside a ziplock bag from you. So glad you put your email address on the letter so we could let you know your letter was received safely in North Carolina, five years after you sent it on its way. Email me back so I will know you received this message.”

Upon receiving the email DeGeorge said she was shocked.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought it would sink. I didn’t think anyone would find it,” she said.

Her mother, Erica, agreed: “Once we mentioned it to our friends they started saying, ‘Well, if it works for you maybe it’ll work for us.’”

Erica and her husband, Salvatore De- George were residents of Kennebunk two and a half years ago.

During that time Colby attended Kennebunk Elementary School. However, after moving to Massachusetts, they have summered in Kennebunk. They bought a summer home on Abbey Road in May of 2008.

Colby threw the bottle into the ocean in September of that year.

“I was watching ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ and I saw him do it so I told my dad, ‘Oh, that looks cool,’ so I wrote the letter, put it in the bottle, and threw the bottle into the ocean,” DeGeorge said.

Since the discovery of the bottle three weeks ago, DeGeorge’s uncle decided to research the Atlantic Ocean’s currents along the east coast for the last five years.

“We found that because of the way the current flows, there is such a small percentage that the bottle would make it down south. It was so unlikely,” Erica said. “I just think it’s really cool how it all came about.”

Erica and Ann, Annsley’s mother, have been corresponding through email since the discovery.

“It’s hard for Annsley and Colby to talk because they’re both in school during the day, but we hope to soon,” Erica said.

When asked what she would write on another message in a bottle before throwing it out to sea, DeGeorge said, “I’d like to write where I think it would land.”

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