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Message in a bottle travels 1,000 miles

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Water bottle: Joseph Vallis with the bottle he spotted with a message from a French yacht inside

A message in a bottle found on a beach at the weekend was set adrift more than a thousand miles off the island almost four years ago.

Joseph Vallis stumbled across the unusual find as he helped to clean up mounds of trash at Bailey’s Bay on Saturday.

The 12-year-old Warwick Academy pupil, from Sandys, now hopes to hear back from the writers after he contacted them by e-mail.

He said: “It was cool. We were just picking up trash and it was there. It was a green bottle. There was a big plastic bag inside that was rolled up.”

With the help of his father, Boyd Vallis, he uncorked the bottle and found the note inside, which contained e-mail addresses and a message in several languages.

The message explained that the bottle was thrown overboard in April 2014 from a French sailing yacht crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The authors asked anyone who found it to get in touch by e-mail and added, “it could be fun”.

Joseph said: “We did but they haven’t responded yet. We sent it to them last night.”

Joseph and his dad took the letter home and looked at it under a black light because the writing was so faded.

They were able to make out enough of the co-ordinates to work out that the bottle had been put in the water in the northeast Atlantic, more than 1,000 miles east of Bermuda.

Mr Vallis said it must have gone south and the pair drew up a map of the route it may have taken based on their knowledge of the currents in the area.

But they had no idea when the bottle made landfall in Bermuda and how long it had been buried under trash at the bay.

Joseph made the discovery as about 12 school pupils, alumni and staff gathered at the small cove for Saturday’s clean-up event.

They picked up “buckets and buckets” of trash and Mr Vallis said he had never seen such a thick layer of small plastic pieces littering the beach.

Jane Vickers, director of development at Warwick Academy, appealed for volunteers on Friday after a friend highlighted the mounds of garbage at the cove on Facebook.

Ms Vickers said: “It was unbelievable. The plastic and garbage was staggering.

“There was everything from milk crates, to plastic buckets, to plastic cutlery, tooth brushes, combs — it was frightening. Anything and everything you could imagine was down there.”

Other pieces appeared to have come from a boat and Ms Vickers said people in the area told the group that debris was washing up from a vessel that had broken its moorings. Local resident Jennifer Hind told The Royal Gazette in January that the Trojan had been grounded west of the pedestrian bridge for a “couple of months”.

She said bits of the boat, including foam cushions and sheets of plywood and plastic, had started to wash up on the beach.

But Ms Vickers said the most disturbing part was the amount of small bits of plastic.

Ms Vickers added: “There is literally feet of tiny pieces of plastic. At first you think it’s our beautiful pink sand and as you look you realise it is tiny bits of plastic.”

They bagged up all the trash and will take it to the incinerator today.

Joseph Vallis, 12, left, and friend Daniel Kunst spotted the bottle while taking part in the clean-up at Bailey’s Bay beach on Saturday (Photograph supplied)
In the bag: The message was faded at the top but most of it was still legible (Photograph supplied)
Joseph Vallis and his father, Boyd Vallis, were able to figure out that the bottle was likely set adrift more than 1,000 miles east of Bermuda and worked out the path it may have taken to get to the island (Image supplied)
The bottle was found among mounds of trash at Bailey's Bay on Saturday (Photograph supplied)
Jane Vickers, Warwick Academy's Director of Development, organised the clean-up after her friend posted about the trash on Facebook (Photograph supplied)
Jane Vickers said Bailey’s Bay beach was littered with “anything and everything you could imagine” (Photograph supplied)
Volunteers collected piles of rubbish now waiting to be taken to the incinerator during the clean-up on the weekend (Photograph supplied)
Jane Vickers, Warwick Academy's Director of Development, said there was an "extraordinary" amount of plastic on the beach (Photograph supplied)
In the bag: Juliana Montarsolo and Emily and Euan Spery-Jones take part in the clean-up at Bailey’s Bay
Volunteers were shocked by the amount of plastic on the beach (Photograph supplied)
Arden Vickers, a Warwick Academy alumnus, and fellow former student Samantha Froud, also on the Board of Governors, help to pick up trash at the beach (Photograph supplied)