When six Vancouver Island paddlers head out from Port Townsend, Wash., on June 4 in a race to Alaska, they'll have a unique passenger on board — they call him Ash, and he's a message in a bottle.

The canoeists, who call themselves Team Soggy Beavers, discovered the bottle during their recent training in Victoria's Inner Harbour.

All Points West host Robyn Burns spoke to canoeist Russell Henry about the discovery.

"I was steering the boat and paddling along, and I saw something floating. Then I was like, 'There's a message in the bottle! Hold the boat!'"

Soggy Beavers

The group of Victoria paddlers, who call themselves the Soggy Beavers, are training for a race to Alaska next month. (Russell Henry)

"We back up and I pick it up. There's all this dust in the bottle. So I crack it open and I eventually move the dust and can see in it.

"It says something along the lines of, 'If you find this, please throw it back in the ocean. My last wish was to see the world.' And on the other side is a photo of a man and it says 'Celebration of Life.'"

  • Do you know who "Ash" was? Email us at cbcnewsvancouver@cbc.ca

"All of us are thinking, 'There's a dead guy in here!' and the dust was his ashes, and I closed it back up and we've had him ever since.

"And then we thought, 'Wow, this is very different. Should we throw it back in the ocean?'"

"But then we figured we are going to Alaska and he's in the Inner Harbour. Chances are that he'll stay here for another couple of months before he gets a current out, so we thought we'd bring him along."


Russell Henry and the rest of his team plan to take the bottle along in their canoe during their race to Alaska. (Russell Henry)

"We now call him Ash. We don't know his name. We really want to get Ash up to Alaska. He's got to see the world, so we got to get him there.

"Up the coast, there's the Alaskan current which essentially wraps around over to Asia so chances are if we throw him in the water up there he'll hopefully get over to Asia.

"But I think there's always the chance we find somebody who says, 'Hey I'm sailing to Japan,' and we could hand him off. I think it would be cool, people just handing him off so he makes his way around the world."

Do you know who "Ash" was? Email us at cbcnewsvancouver@cbc.ca

To hear the full interview with Russell Henry, listen to the audio labelled Message in a bottle