'Pen pals for life:' Fort McMurray girl's message in a bottle discovered in England

Ten-year-old Jacquie Chmilar said it's hard to grasp the fact that a message in a bottle she tossed into the Atlantic ocean floated all the way from Newfoundland to England.

The bottle floated more than 3,400 kilometres across the pond, from Newfoundland to the UK

Jacquie Chmilar threw three separate messages in a bottle into the Atlantic Ocean. She never thought she would get a response. (David Thurton/CBC)

Ten-year-old Jacquie Chmilar said it's hard to grasp the fact that a message in a bottle she tossed into the Atlantic Ocean floated all the way from Newfoundland to England.

Chmilar, who lives in Fort McMurray, was vacationing in Musgrave Harbour, N.L. last fall when her grandfather suggested she toss a plastic bottle with a message inside into the ocean.

She chucked three bottles, each with a message inside. One of them ended with the words "If found, call or email please." She wrote out her parents's contact details, and signed off with a heart.

She didn't know where the bottles would end up.

Chmilar's letter was found on a beach in Cornwall, England (Supplied/Nick Crooks)

All the way across the pond

About four months later, in January, the Chmilars got an email from a family in England.

The Crooks family said they found the bottle during a cleanup of Stanbury Mouth Beach in England. They said they were shocked that the bottle floated more than 3,400 kilometres across the ocean.

Noah Crooks, 8, found the note in a green Sprite bottle.

"When I picked it up, I was just amazed because it is not every day you find a message in a bottle," he said.

Noah (left) and Josh Crooks found Chmilar's message in a bottle during a beach cleanup. (Nick Crooks/Submitted)

The Crooks family said they hope the story inspires people to commit to keeping the world's beaches clean to protect the environment — and maybe to find a message in a bottle for themselves.

"I think lots more people should do it because you just see these massive piles of rubbish," Crooks said.

'Thought it was a joke'

Suzanne Chmilar said she's still amazed a plastic bottle that would have normally ended up in the bin travelled across an ocean.

She said she had to read the email several times before she believed it was true.

"I thought it was a joke," Chmilar said. "I didn't believe it until I saw the picture."

Jacquie Chmilar said she would like to meet her friends from the U.K. in person one day. Suzanne Chmilar said she wants her daughter to keep emailing them.

"Pen pals for life, I think. That's a strange way to do a pen pal," Suzanne Chmilar said. "Maybe in the future we will make a trip to England."

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook and Twitter, email him at david.thurton@cbc.ca

About the Author

David Thurton

David Thurton is CBC's mobile journalist in Fort McMurray. He's worked for CBC in the Maritimes & in Canada's Arctic. Email: david.thurton@cbc.ca