Local boat captain finds couple’s 1998 message in a bottle

(WSVN) - It’s a tradition of the sea, freezing a moment in time by tossing a message in a bottle into the water. One South Florida man experienced the thrill of discovery. The Nightteam’s Robbin Simmons has the story.

There’s something romantic about recording a moment of your life.

Carole Calen: “Well, we were on a cruise…”

Sealing it in a bottle…

Brian Calen: “We had, I think it was a beer bottle.”

And throwing it into the ocean.

Brian Calen: “And basically just tossed it overboard.”

Leaving it to the whim of Mother Nature, letting the wind and waves guide it into someone else’s hands.

Brian and Carole Calen
Brian and Carole Calen

Capt. Adam Utterstrom: “‘February 27th, 1998. This is a special message from a group of special friends.'”

And perhaps even more thrilling? Being the one who finds the personal treasure.

Capt. Adam Utterstrom: “I saw it. It was sticking about half out of the sand, and you could clearly see the note inside, so that was pretty exciting.”

Boat captain Adam Utterstrom was in the Southern Bahamas on a fishing trip over the summer.

Capt. Adam Utterstrom: “This is always our main goal, walking the beaches and whatnot.”

He and his crew like to check out uninhabited islands, looking for glass floats used to hold up fishing nets.

But this is what he found in June: a green Grolsch beer bottle with a handwritten letter inside.

Capt. Adam Utterstrom: “We took pictures when we got back to our little boat, and I didn’t want to open it there ’cause I didn’t want to get any water in it or sand.”


Later, they opened the bottle and read the note.

Capt. Adam Utterstrom: “‘We are eclipse chasers who experienced a total solar eclipse of the sun yesterday.'”

The letter was written on stationery from a Holland America ship. Adam started researching and found video online of the actual eclipse cruise.

Adam then wrote to the letter’s return address, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He didn’t get a response, but 7News did.

Carole Calen: “I guess we forgot about it. Our lives passed. We got married, had kids.”

Brian Calen: “Our lives went on.”

Carole and Brian are the couple behind that letter in a bottle. They’ve moved four times since they tossed it overboard nearly 20 years ago.

Carole Calen: “I was totally shocked.”

Capt. Adam Utterstrom
Capt. Adam Utterstrom

They couldn’t believe it when we told them it had finally been found.

Brian Calen: “It’s just amazing, amazing that this gentleman found it.”

Carole Calen: “It’s preserved so well. I can’t believe it.”

They can’t remember their exact location where they threw the bottle into the ocean.

Brian Calen: “On the return around Curaçao. We were close to South America.”

Which means the bottle floated from South America all the way into the Southern Bahamas.

Brian Calen: “It had to travel northwest. Quite a distance, a thousand miles or so.”

Brian and Carole are grateful to Adam for reuniting them with their memories, but say he should keep looking, because it’s not the only bottle out there.

Brian Calen: “We did it one other time with a champagne bottle and a cork,” said Carole.

The message? You never know when a day at the beach will turn into the find of a lifetime.

“Finding your first one, it’s always pretty neat,” said Utterstrom.

Carole and Brian say they hope to meet Adam when they travel to Florida later this year, and they would love to see their old letter.

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