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close-up of postcard inside bottle
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A close-up of the postcard inside bottle 272B.  Photo credit: Justin LaVigne
cards and bottle
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The black top, postcard and instructions for the finder with the drift bottle found January 20, 2015.  Photo credit:  Justin LaVigne

January 29, 2015
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Second Drift Bottle More than 50 Years Old Found on Martha’s Vineyard

People find some interesting things when they go for walks.  Just ask Justin LaVigne, who found a clear glass bottle with faded cards inside while walking his dog on Martha’s Vineyard near Long Point on January 20.

The clear bottle contained a postcard for its finder to fill out and return to the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and a “Break This Bottle” instruction sheet informing the finder that the bottle was released as part of a large-scale study of ocean current. The card, originally bright pink, was faded in parts but intact. The postcard was stamped on the upper right corner with the date Sep. 19, 1959, with the 19 written in by hand.  The numbers 272B were handwritten twice in the center of the card just above the words “Finder of this Bottle.”  A stamp at the top left corner of the postcard  read “U.S.C.&G.S.S. Hydrographer,” with “Lat. 41.2, Long 70.8” handwritten below the stamp.

A frequent beach walker who takes his Great Dane and other family dogs for long walks along the island’s south shore, LaVigne was curious and did an internet search for drift bottles and Martha’s Vineyard. The NEFSC web story posted in March 2014 about a drift bottle found on Martha’s Vineyard popped up, and he contacted NEFSC. It turns out that this recent drift bottle was found not far from the spot where the last bottle was discovered in December 2013, and it was part of the same study.

“The stretch between Long Point and Edgartown Great Pond often seems to reveal many unusual bottles of various vintages during the winter months,” LaVigne said. “I often walk my dog on this stretch and usually investigate the different bottles that more or less litter the beach.  This is how I came to find the drift bottle.”

A resident of Edgartown who owns an interior landscaping business, LaVigne says he finds several messages in bottles each year, plus a lot of bottles from the 1950s and 60s. This one was different, slightly sandblasted on one side, but otherwise in good condition and sealed tight. The paper inside instructing the finder to “Break This Bottle” was intriguing, and not something found in the other bottles he has come across.

“It was completely exposed beside a small clump of beach grass. The pink paper reading ‘break this bottle’ was sun-faded in exposed areas, but still bright pink where rolled upon itself. There is a small chip out of the lip of the bottle, but the tightly fitted rubber cork still protected the papers inside completely,” La Vigne said. “Like the person in your last story, I wasn't keen on breaking the bottle so I set to it with a cork screw and later used a pair of chopsticks to do a mediocre job at extracting the papers within.”

LaVigne has learned a bit of history from the bottle and its contents, and has a great story to tell about a winter walk on the beach.  “I find a lot of things on the beach, but this bottle stands out.  It must have been there all these years, covered and uncovered by the sand, until I was lucky enough to come across it.”

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