The Message in the Bottle
The message in the bottle was an old, mysterious story of the sea. Few fictional messages have had so strange an origin, and so dramatic an effect as the real message picked up by one of the crew of the Araguary in the South Atlantic on 4th May 1882. The Brazilian gunboat Araguary was patrolling near the mouth of the River Amazon when the crew spotted a sealed bottle with a card inside, floating on the surface. Stopping to recover the bottle, it was passed up to the Captain. The letter was undated. It read:
Aboard the schooner Sea Hero. The crew has mutinied, killing the captain and flinging the first mate overboard. I am the second mate and have been spared to navigate the ship. They are forcing me to head for the Amazon River. 28 long 22 lat making 3.5 knots. Rush help.
When he read the message, the Araguary’s captain checked his register and found details about the ship which was built in 1866 and having sailed from Hull in England. He decided to investigate and ordered his gunboat to the rescue as they were not far from that last known position.
Several hours later, when they reached the position given, a ship was sighted. Sure enough it was the Sea Hero. The Brazilian gunboat fired a warning shot across the bow’s of the mutinous ship for her to heave to. The Araguary succeeded in drawing alongside the Sea Hero and a boarding party went over and after a savage fight, the cutlass-brandishing Brazilians overpowered and arrested the mutineers. The Brazilians soon found and released the crew members who had remained loyal. And then the rescuers told them about the message in the bottle discovery.
Here is the uncanny, strangest part of this incident. Gathering around, they began to discuss the story. Although the Second Officer, named Hudger, was naturally pleased to be rescued, he was perplexed and could not understand how the gunboat captain knew about the mutiny. The captain explained the finding of the floating bottle with the plea for help inside it. But surprisingly, the second mate denied sending any such message. As for the rest of the English crew, they also denied sending it.
And the amazing truth was not finally discovered until the Sea Hero eventually arrived in London. At the court hearing the mystery deepened. Then it was learned that the Hand of Fate had dealt harshly with the mutineers. They would have succeeded in their crime were it not for the note in that bottle – a note that had been written sixteen years earlier! The truth was that an author, John Parminton, had written a book called Sea Hero. To gain wider publicity for his book, the author had launched 5,000 empty whisky bottles into the sea, each containing exactly the same passage from his book. The mutinous ship, the Sea Hero, had been named after that book. It was one of these bottles that the Araguary had picked up, strangely in the same location. The message which foiled the mutiny had been written long before the real ship Sea Hero had ever been built!
The above article was taken from his book Seas of Fate.