Tate Van Liew had her father, around-the-world sailor Brad Van Liew, put a message from her into a bottle and toss it into the ocean when he crossed the equator during last year’s Velux 5 Oceans race. Nine months later, the bottle and note were found by a 7-year-old vacationing in St. Maarten.
Brad Van Liew didn't expect much when he tossed the wine bottle into the ocean last fall.
After all, what are the odds of anyone finding an actual message in a bottle?
But the Mount Pleasant skipper is not a guy to disappoint his daughter, and Tate had asked him to send a message in a bottle for her while he was sailing in the Velux 5 Oceans race last year. So he wrote the note, corked the bottle and threw it overboard when he crossed the equator.
"I know a lot of people who have tried that for years," Van Liew said. "I've never heard of one getting found."
Tate Van Liew, who is 8, recently got a letter from Michael Raczynski, a 7-year-old who lives outside of Warsaw, Poland. Raczynski wrote to her saying that he had found her bottle, and the note inside, on the beach at Guana Bay on St. Maarten -- a Caribbean island about 2,250 miles from the spot where Van Liew set it adrift.
"I was super-happy," Tate said Thursday. "At first, I thought it was from my friend from Poland I met during the race."
Raczynski told Tate he is the youngest blue belt in Karate in Poland and that his family owns a vacation home on the Dutch side of St. Maarten. He said he happened upon the barnacled bottle in July, nine months after Van Liew set it adrift.
Van Liew was just off Brazil when he threw the bottle overboard as part of his equatorial ceremonies. He figured if it wound up anywhere, it would land on a beach in Brazil. How it drifted through the doldrums northwest all the way to the eastern Caribbean islands is a real nautical puzzler.
"What are the odds of a message in a bottle getting found?" Van Liew said Thursday. "After we got that letter, I went out and bought lottery tickets the next day."
Tate said she plans to write back to Raczynski, but isn't sure she will try the message-in-a-bottle experiment again.
After all, what are the odds?
Reach Brian Hicks at 937-5561 or on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC.
What: Velux 5 Oceans winner Brad Van Liew will offer tours of his winning race boat, Le Pingouin. There will also be a free raffle for a private sail for six aboard the 60-foot yacht.
When: Today, 2-5 p.m.
Where: Cooper River Marina, 1010 Juneau Avenue, North Charleston