Voyage of a message

Just before embarking on his most recent circumnavigation (his third) in the Velux 5 Oceans race, solo ocean racer Brad Van Liew had one final bit of family business to attend to. His eight-year-old daughter, Tate, had a special request. She had prepared a message in a bottle that she wanted him to send when he crossed the equator.

“I was off the coast of Brazil headed for Cape Town, South Africa,” said Van Liew. “I had cleared the doldrums and the southeasterly trades were pushing me along at 15 knots. Despite the racing, Tate’s message was a priority as I crossed the equator.” So Van Liew tossed the bottle over the side when he reached the line.

Nine months and 2,250 nm later, Tate’s bottle washed ashore on a Guana Bay beach on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. It was found by seven-year-old Michael Raczynski, a second grader visiting from Poland.

According to Van Liew’s wife, Meaghan, the family received a letter from Michael addressed to Tate. In the letter, the young boy explained that he and his father had been combing the beach when they found Tate’s bottle amid the sea wrack. Raczynski enclosed photos of the bottle and the beach where they had found it.

In an e-mail to the Van Liews, Zbigniew Raczynski, Michael’s father noted, “I said many times you never know whom you will meet and what will be tomorrow.”

By Ocean Navigator