Trent Cooper waited three years to launch his message in a bottle near the ocean, and he hoped that the bottle would travel great distances and be found by someone.
One out of two wishes coming true wasn’t bad.
“I was pretty excited that someone found it,” he said. “It didn’t go far, but it was still pretty cool.”
Cooper, 11, who finishes fifth grade today at Cooperstown Central School, got a kit from Riverwood as a birthday gift in 2010. He wrote a note, added a picture of himself and sealed up the bottle with some glue. It wasn’t until his family went on vacation this spring that he finally sent it.
While staying in Savannah, Ga., Cooper launched his bottle from Skidaway Island State Park with hopes that it would go out to sea. Instead, it washed up onto Raccoon Key, a deserted island not far from the Atlantic, where it was found by the Chisholm family.
“It is very cool, like finding treasure,” said Alice Chisholm. “I feel like we should throw another one back into the ocean.”
Chisholm’s husband, Andy, and adult daughter, Jane Eliza, were fishing for triple tails not far from their Vernonburg home in the Savannah suburbs when they came upon the small island in the Ossabaw Sound.
The surrounding islands are state and federally owned and do not allow dogs on them in the spring because of bird and turtle nesting. Andy Chisholm said he had his golden retriever, Boss, with them that day, June 1, so they decided to anchor their 20-foot Grady White and enjoy the solitude of Raccoon Key.
“It is a great place for the dog to roam,” he said. “We got out and were just walking around,” when Jane Eliza found the bottle.
The wax had not kept a complete seal and part of the message and Cooper’s photo were washed out. From what the Chisholms read, they thought that the bottle had been launched in 2010, perhaps from Cooperstown.
The message gives Cooper’s first and middle names, Trent Norwood, and lists his age as 9 on Dec. 4, 2010. It says he is from Cooperstown and likes to ski and sail. Believing that the bottle was therefore launched from New York three and a half years ago, Alice called the Cooperstown Crier to see if she could find the boy who sent the message.
“He got it as a birthday present a couple of years ago,” said Ashley Cooper, Trent’s mom. “I guess he wanted to keep it and drop it in the ocean. We took it out on a boat with us and dropped it in the river near Skidaway when we were on vacation last month.”
Because his last name was either washed out or not written, Cooper was not an easy person to find. Calls to nine local schools including CCS and a check with several business contacts turned up no local Norwood families. Three Norwoods were listed in the phone book, but none of them knew a Trent.
A second query of Cooperstown teachers focused on finding a boy about 11 named Trent, and was successful in locating the Cooper family. CCS physical education teacher Connie Herzig told kindergarten teacher Lisa Lippitt about the search. Lippitt reached out to several recently retired teachers, and it was Sue Miosek who suggested Cooper.
The Chisholms said they were happy to know that they had found their message maker, despite the surprise that the bottle had been launched from their home state. Instead of a three-year, thousand-mile journey from the Susquehanna River to the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean and down to the coast of Georgia, the bottle either made it out to sea and got washed back into the sound, or came down a series of small rivers and got stuck on Raccoon Key.
Either way, it was a month-long journey of just a couple of miles, but that news could not take away the thrill of the find, Alice said.
“Regardless, it was a thrill for us to get a message in a bottle and a fun diversion to try and locate him.”
For Cooper, sending a message in a bottle might not be a one-time thing. “The reason it didn’t go farther is I guess we dropped it in the wrong place,” he said. “I might do it again.”