Olivier Vandevalle's message in bottle shows up 33 years later, but on Facebook

Updated: 28 Apr 2010
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Belgian Oliver Vandevalle has received a reply to his message in a bottle via Facebook over 30 years


Oliver Vandevalle

Olivier Vandevalle (pictured on the left with his son) and the bottle he threw into the sea when he was a boy of 14 (right, with his father)


A SCHOOLBOY'S message in a bottle has been found on a British beach and returned to him — THIRTY THREE years later.

Belgian Olivier Vandewalle was just 14 when he scribbled the note and dropped it into the sea from his dad's yacht.

At the time the family were sailing out of the Channel for the Azores and Olivier recalls they were midway between France and England.

He forgot all about it until he received a surprise message on Facebook from a woman claiming to have his teenage note.

Lorraine Yates told Olivier she had found the bottle on the beach at Swanage in Dorset — and then tracked him down through the social networking site.

As proof she emailed him a copy of his message which had remained intact and readable inside the sealed bottle.


Dad-of-two Olivier, 47, from Ostend, north Belgium, said: "I was very surprised to hear from her.

"I had no idea what she was talking about when she first got in touch but then she mentioned the name of my father's boat Tamaris which I had referred to in my message and I remembered.

"It's one of those things that every child does and I put it in the water somewhere north of Brest in France as we were sailing to the Azores.

"I never imagined I would see it again but suddenly this Englishwoman turned up from nowhere with it.

"It's incredible that she had found it and I can't believe it has been at sea all these years.

"I think maybe it was lying under sand on the beach until it was uncovered by a storm."

In his message Olivier said he was "a boy of 14 years and my house is in Belgium".

He added: "I do not know if you are a pupil, a woman or a man.

"I am on a sailing boat of 18 metres. Her name is Tamaris. While I am writing this letter we have just passed Portland Bill on the south coast of England. We left this morning."

Olivier, a waiter, added: "I ripped the page from a school notebook and wrote with a normal pen and it was a little bit damaged, but still readable.

"The wine bottle had protected it. My father insisted that we seal the cork with candle grease to make sure no sea water could get in."




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