Tracking Your Message in a Bottle

For centuries, sailors have written messages, corked them in glass bottles, and tossed them into the open ocean.  Drifting around the ocean gyres for years, the bottles are rarely found washed up on the shore.  Nevertheless, we were not able to dismiss the romantic idea of writing our own messages and tossing them into the ocean as we crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Verde to Barbados.

Where will the ocean currents take the bottles and when will they be found?  Usually, these questions will never be answered.  But these bottles are special – they were tied to  Marine Instruments MSi satellite GPS buoys!  Graciously donated by the innovative team at Marine Instruments, the MSi buoys transmit the location of the bottles to Iridium satellites every day.  We are now able to track the bottles on a map as they drift across the ocean and place bets on where and when they may be found!

Each of the kids wrote messages, corked them into bottles, and tied them to three individual MSi drifters.  Other friends also contributed messages that were included in the bottles.  The drift path of the buoys are influenced by the ocean currents and winds.  The bottles were each deployed one-day apart with a spacing of 2.5° Longitude (146 miles at 14° Latitude, or 234 km).  The deployment locations were:

Buoy A:  15.0°N, 30.0°W
Buoy D:  14.0°N, 32.5°W
Buoy E:  13.5°N, 35.0°W

We wish to express sincere gratitude to the team at Marine Instrument for donating the buoys and providing the position telemetry service, and to Nortek Data Services for developing and hosting the website that tracks and displays the real-time map.

Click on the photo below to view a movie of Buoy A deployment!


Buoy D Deployment


Buoy E Deployment


Full Cruising World (Dec 2017) publication message in a bottle.


Click on map to view real-time buoy tracking!

2 thoughts on “Tracking Your Message in a Bottle

  1. We dropped a message overboard during our crossing from French Polynesia to the Cook Islands. it was found about 1 year later on an island in the Lau group in Fiji. We are now connected with the person who found it over Facebook.


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