A letter from Barb Thomas, tucked into a bottle over six years ago and tossed off a boat 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras, was found in a small fishing village in northwest Spain last month.
“I was very surprised,” said Thomas, who was secretary for Adams School when she wrote the message. “I thought surely it had sunk or broken.”
From 2005 through 2008 Adams School students, teachers and staff tucked letters and pictures about Castine and the school into bottles, sealed them for an ocean voyage, and then dropped them off the Castine dock or had local captains Randy Flood and Lance Burton launch them by boat.
Previous bottles have been found on beaches as close as Ipswich, Mass. (three times) and as far as the Bahamas, Portugal and Morocco.
The letter Thomas wrote on September 8, 2006, enclosed in its bottle with a map of the Maine coast pinpointing Castine, a postcard of Dyce’s Head and a line drawing of Adams School, washed up on a beach in Traba de laxe in Galicia, Spain.
“I found the bottle when walking on the beach…I saw a bottle at my feets, I kicked him and I realized that there was something inside,” wrote Jose Lema Sanchez in an email to principal Katie Frothingham on February 11. Sanchez, who speaks only Spanish, had his daughter, who apologized for her English skills, write the email.
He first tried the email address Thomas included, but after not hearing back (Thomas has since retired), he searched Adams School on the Internet and contacted Frothingham.
Traba de laxe, as Sanchez describes it, is not unlike Castine. “It’s very small…only 573 people” and is a “very pretty fishing village [that] has many tourists in summer.”
His discovery has been covered by Spanish television, Sanchez said, and—since TV is global—Sanchez ends his letter asking “how is your people, as I have seen on TV that there was heavy snowfall.”
The “message in a bottle” program began under former principal Todd Nelson, and the students involved are mostly now in high school.
“This was a generation ago,” said Frothingham. “Most of these kids weren’t part of that. It would be neat to do another generation of bottles.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Thomas, who read about the discovery in the school newsletter. “It was thrilling.”