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Amazing Tale: Message in bottle tossed into water at Port Townsend 40 years ago is found, returned

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PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- People put messages in bottles and toss them into the sea, but they never expect them to come back, especially 40 years later.

“You know, I was at that stage, when you`re that age and you just have this sense that the world is so big and you want to be a part of it and have a sense of adventure,”  Susan Cordell said Tuesday of the bottle she and a friend tossed in the water.


It was summertime, about 1975, Susan says, when she and a friend were just bored preteens looking for some fun on Fort Worden Beach in Port Townsend.

“The only pieces of paper we had were these random slips in our bag. My friend, her family owned a deli, so she had a restaurant receipt and I had one of those subscription magazine slips. I think we just haphazardly just wrote this quick letter found a bottle and just tossed it,” recalls Susan.

Some time passed and Susan and her friend forgot all about the message.

Then, in April 2015, nearly 40 years later, Mikki Stazel was combing the beach with her dog in Alaska when she came across that old green bottle.

After cracking it open, the bottle revealed two very old notes. One was signed by Susan Cordell of Port Townsend, Wash., promising a reward should that bottle ever be returned.

Mikki and her boyfriend did some research online and found Susan Cordell, now living as a scientist in Hawaii.

“Are you, by chance ,Susan Cordell from Port Townsend, Washington, and, if so, I found a message in a bottle from you!"

"I had this flooding memory of doing it and so I immediately wrote back and said yes, it’s me,” says Susan.

A friend of Susan’s, who studies oceanography, told her it`s quite possible the bottle traveled the ocean currents clockwise, circling from Hawaii over to China and Russia, finally resting on the shores of Alaska.

“The fact that it didn`t break and it landed on a soft beach, I mean, I`m a scientist, so knowing the statistics that would be involved for something like this to happen is almost impossible,” says Susan.

Almost, but not really, and, as this tale proves, the possibilities are endless.

“It feels special to be the one and to be able to share that story, but more than anything to me it becomes more about the people,” says Mikki.

“Definitely makes it feel like anything is possible,” says Susan.

And so you're probably wondering what about that reward, right?

Well, Susan delivered on her promise. She's already sent Mikki coffee and chocolate, from her Hawaiian farm, to Alaska as a thank you.

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  • Kay

    Did anyone else notice it appeared to be a screw-top bottle? LOL Why did she break it open on the beach? My first thought was… I hope she picks up all that broken glass…

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