A note written by Joe Gray and Aiden Marks of Cape Elizabeth is on its way in the Atlantic Ocean, 13 miles off Gloucester, Massachusetts. Courtesy / Robert Porter

CAPE ELIZABETH — In this age of e-correspondence, social media and teleconferencing, it’s hard to imagine children being interested in a form of communication as old as, well, the sea.

But for Cape Elizabeth residents Joe Gray, 10, and Aiden Marks, 11, an ongoing interest in a written note in a corked bottle tossed into the ocean has led to an endeavor that has traveled more than 100 miles.

And thanks to the help of a stranger in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the message is still going, and no one knows where it’s going to turn up next.

It all started on Feb. 20, when Joe and Aiden first put the bottle’s note together with a message that read: “Dear reader: If you found this bottle, please contact (us) and say where you found it (and) when you found it.” The note included Joe’s parents’ phone number, and a plea to return the message in a bottle to the sea to continue its journey. Then, Joe and Aiden deposited it in the ocean on the beach at Broad Cove, near the neighborhood where they both live.

Joe Gray, shown with his mother, Jennifer, sent a message in a bottle on a journey from Cape Elizabeth. Courtesy / Jennifer Gray

“I wanted to see how far it would go,” Joe said.

It isn’t the first experiment of its kind for Joe. Last year, he threw a similar note into the ocean and someone found the bottle as far north as Birch Harbor, but no one has contacted Joe about that bottle since.

This note, however, has fared a bit better. On March 11, a couple in Biddeford found it, signed the note, and threw it back. Then, on March 17, Jeanne Blake said she was walking on Long Beach near her home in Gloucester, about 110 miles from Cape Elizabeth, when she discovered the bottle.

“It was kind of rolling in the surf a bit,” she said.

She was unable to fish the note out, and had to break the bottle to get it, but she sent a text to Joe’s mother. She explained she,

Aiden Marks and his friend, Joe Gray, both of Cape Elizabeth, are the authors of a note they hope is still traveling in a bottle in the Atlantic Ocean. Courtesy / Jennifer Gray

like many others, were dealing with the isolation of the coronavirus lockdown, and called discovering the note “a wonderful distraction.”

She pledged to send the note along in a new bottle, but it took some doing. Her first attempt failed — the bottle washed back ashore, and she couldn’t find it among the rocks. However, she had made a copy of the note, and put it in a new bottle. Then a fisherman friend volunteered to take the bottle out to sea. It was last seen being thrown from the deck of his boat near Stellwagon Bank, 13 miles offshore.

“He said, depending on the winds, it could wind up in France, or England, or back here in Massachusetts,” Blake said.

Jeanne Blake, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, with the bottle she found in the surf containing a note from two Cape Elizabeth children. The bottle traveled an estimated 110 miles to get to her. Courtesy / Cliff King

Aiden’s mother, Michelle Oliver, said she was particularly excited that the bottle made it to Gloucester, since she has extended family there. She said like Blake, she found the experiment fun to think about during the uncertainty brought on by the virus.

“It’s a cool kind of story that came at a weird time,” she said.

Joe’s mother, Jennifer Gray, said it was great in the modern age to see the kids so engaged in something that wasn’t connected to a screen.

“I think it’s nice that the kids are doing some old-fashioned things,” she said.

As for Joe, he said he might try another bottle sometime, but not just yet.

“I want to see first what this one does,” he said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

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