Message in a bottle has been found 25 years later washed up in Norway

Scottish doctor who threw a message in a bottle into the North Sea 25 years ago, aged 8, is delighted after a woman in Norway discovers her letter detailing her love of sweets, teddies and Blu Tack and hatred of boys

  • Joanna Buchan was eight when she dropped a bottle with a note in the sea 
  • She was on a boat in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, for a school project in 1996 
  • And 25 years later, a mother-of-one from Norway found it washed up in Gasvaer
  • A message in a bottle sent off by an eight-year-old girl in Scotland has washed up on the shores of Norway 25 years later.

    Doctor Joanna Buchan, now 34 and living in New South Wales, Australia, was on a fishing boat when she dropped a bottle in the sea for a school project off Peterhead in 1996.

    And 25 years later, it has been found by 37-year-old Elena Andreassen Haga and her son Eliah in Gasvaer, northern Norway, 800 miles away from where Joanna left it.

    After finding the green bottle in summer 2020, Elena, an electronics store manager from Stavanger, tracked Joanna down on social media through the message inside which signed off with her name.

    The letter began with ‘Dear Discoverer, my name is Joanna Buchan’, and went on to say her address in Peterhead.

    Joanna Buchan, aged eight-and-a-half sent off this letter in a bottle when on a fishing boat off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, for a school project at Peterhead Central School in 1996

    Joanna Buchan, aged eight-and-a-half sent off this letter in a bottle when on a fishing boat off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, for a school project at Peterhead Central School in 1996

    It continues: ‘I collect Pogs and I love teddy bears. I have a dog called Dougal and his birthday is on the 29th of March and he will be 15 in dog days, so he will be one hundred and something!

    ‘I have a rather big house. I have a best best best friend. I love collecting Blu Tack but my mum hates it. 

    ‘Our school’s project is about post offices and next year’s one is Charlotte’s Web. It is a novel. I love sweets. By the way I hate boys.

    ‘Yours sincerely, Joanna Buchan.’ 

    Elena Andreassen Haga, 37, pictured with her son Eliah in Gasvaer, Norway, when they found the bottle with the note inside

    Elena Andreassen Haga, 37, pictured with her son Eliah in Gasvaer, Norway, when they found the bottle with the note inside

    Pictured as a child, Joanna was only eight-and-a-half when she dropped the bottle in the sea - and 25 years later, she received a message to say it had been found

    Pictured as a child, Joanna was only eight-and-a-half when she dropped the bottle in the sea – and 25 years later, she received a message to say it had been found

    The neatly handwritten letter found its way to northern Norway, to a delighted Elena and Eliah, who had to carefully remove the letter to let it dry off after being in the North Sea for so long.

    ‘We were out with a small boat just looking around the area, picking some berries and looking for trash to take care of,’ Elena said.

    ‘We found the bottle, and immediately saw there was something inside.

    ‘I was very excited, you never know – is it just from another small island in the area, or what could be inside.

    ‘My son did not understand why this was so exciting.

    ‘I sent Joanna a message the same day we found the bottle, and forgot about it after that holiday.

    ‘And suddenly late one evening here [Monday] in Norway my Messenger app notified me she had seen the message.

    Joanna Buchan, 34, a doctor from Scotland now living in New South Wales in Australia,

    She said the letter made her laugh with details like she 'hates boys' and has a 'rather big house'

    Joanna Buchan, 34, pictured, a doctor from Scotland now living in New South Wales in Australia, says the letter made her laugh with details like she ‘hates boys’ and has a ‘rather big house’

    ‘I didn’t immediately understand who she was and then the conversation lit up when I sent her the picture of the letter.

    ‘She asked if she could tag me in her post on Facebook, and the rest just piled on from there.’  

    Elena messaged back in summer 2020 when she first found the green bottle, but doctor Joanna only saw the message this week

    Elena messaged back in summer 2020 when she first found the green bottle, but doctor Joanna only saw the message this week

    Joanna was scrolling through her message requests section of Facebook Messenger when she stumbled across Elena’s, and says she recognised her own handwriting. 

    ‘I vaguely remember doing a message in a bottle at Peterhead Central School that we sent off Peterhead in 1996.

    ‘When I read it I just died laughing.

    ‘There’s some really lovely lines in there, like what was important to me at the time. I wish I could tell my teachers of the time, whose idea it would have been.

    ‘It’s clearly done its time in the North Sea.’

    Joanna’s class teacher at the time, Edith Skinner, has since got in touch with her to say how delighted she was the bottle had been found.

    In a message to Joanna she said: ‘I just wanted to say how delighted Jane Bruce and l both were this afternoon to hear that your wee story in the bottle had been found.

    ‘We both remember doing that project as well as the writing lesson prior to the messages being put in the bottles to be taken by Mrs Bruce’s husband Gary to be cast overboard on his fishing trip.

    Elena and her son Eliah found the bottle in Gasvaer, northern Norway, 800 miles away from where Joanna dropped it from a fishing boat off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, in 1996

    Elena and her son Eliah found the bottle in Gasvaer, northern Norway, 800 miles away from where Joanna dropped it from a fishing boat off Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, in 1996

    ‘I think one bottle was discovered quite soon afterwards but l haven’t of any others.

    ‘The fact you mentioned our next project ‘Charlotte’s Web’ brought back many happy memories of the lovely art work on the wall.

    ‘Your handwriting is just as l remember – neat and beautifully formed.

    ‘You were always so conscientious and a delight to teach.

    ‘I am so proud to hear you are a doctor and I do hope you look back on your childhood years at Peterhead Central School with affection and happy memories.

    ‘It was truly a special time for us all. Take care of yourself and live your best life.’ 

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