In 1978, a bottle containing a letter written by a sailor named Tom Waugh was tossed into the sea from a container ship. Forty-five years later, the bottle and letter found its way to its recipient, Martha Cave. The bottle was discovered by Luke Hamilton on the far south coast of New South Wales, Australia, while he was working on Landcare's coastal weeds project. After trying to decipher the messy handwriting and tracking down the person to whom the letter was addressed, Hamilton called Cave and told her about the letter. The letter was addressed to Cave when she was eight, and now at fifty-seven, she says, “I was astonished to have found one after so long and in such perfect condition and to see Tom’s writing, it just brought it all back to me.” Waugh lived a few doors down from Cave’s childhood home and was like a grandfather to her, often telling her tales from his travels and teaching her how ship knots are tied after coming back from sea. They lost touch shortly after he sent her the letter in 1978. Cave has received four other bottled letters from Waugh, who has likely passed away, and hopes there are still more to be discovered.

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