Is the 6,500 mile ocean voyage this bottle made a record journey?

Reader Barry Sadler has written to say he thinks he might be able to claim a record-breaking Atlantic crossing.

He and his wife were on passage between St Maarten and the Azores in April 2010, but because of poor weather they decided to go direct to Lisbon. Some 90 miles south-west of Lisbon they threw overboard a bottle with a message inside.

Amazingly, the bottle and contents were found on a beach in Texas in March by oceanographer Tony Amos, who emailed this fascinating observation to Barry:

‘I found your message in a bottle on San Jose Island Gulf beach, Texas, USA, on Wednesday 14 March, 2012. I am an oceanographer at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas and in the course of surveying local beaches for decades I have found several messages in bottles. Yours has probably traveled farther than any of the others.  

‘I am working out a probable route it took to go from near Lisbon to Port Aransas that will involve the North Atlantic Gyre, the Anegada Passage, Caribbean, Yucatan Strait and the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico. It traveled at least 6,500 miles and took nearly two years to do so.’

Barry reckons that the bottle traveled nine miles a day. ‘Not bad,’ he comments. ‘Guinness Book of Records perhaps?’

Yes, maybe, and I’d be interested in hearing of other message in a bottle stories.

Coincidentally, I read this report a week ago in the Independent which would definitely beat Barry’s record – if you believe the story for a second. The article says that a bottle containing a message that was thrown into the Moray Firth in Scotland by a six-year-old girl was found in Whangamata, New Zealand 47 days later.

So, this particular bottle traveled 20,000 miles in 47 days – 425 miles a day, or an average speed of nearly 18 knots?

Yeah, right.

I’ll put my money on a bottle drifting nine miles a day; that’s pretty good going.