It turns out Gary was the missing link!

You may have seen the story in the Buchanie last week about former Peterhead schoolgirl Joanna Buchan, whose message in a bottle was washed up, 25 years after she sent it, at Gasvaer in northern Norway.

By John A. MacInnes
Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 9:47 am
Gary - far right was the skipper who took the bottles to sea.

But what wasn't in the reports was the missing link – the fisherman who cast the bottles into the sea all those years ago – two bags full including Joanna’s.

Well, he’s now come forward – and it’s Gary Bruce.

Gary, a director at AMS Global and a board member at Peterhead Port Authority was a relief skipper on a fishing boat while his wife, Jane, was a P4 teacher at Central School in Peterhead. Jane and her job share teaching colleague Edith Skinner, were doing a project on postal services and the children were given the task of writing a message in a bottle.

Gary was given the task of releasing them at sea. “We had two bags full of bottles, there must have been about 35 in total," said Gary.

“I didn’t want to put them into the water too close to Peterhead because they’d most likely be washed up ashore nearby, so we sailed close to Fair Isle, just off Shetland, the most geographically remote inhabited island in the UK and tipped them into the water there. “A few of the bottles were found fairly soon after – but it came as a huge surprise to hear that the message from Joanna, who is now a doctor in Australia, was found 25 years later.

It would be fascinating to know where the tides had taken it in the years since.”

Elena, 37, told how she found the green bottle in the summer of 2020 and could see immediately there was something inside.

"So we opened it and we had to be really careful, but we managed to fold it out and we're able to read that this is actually from Scotland, so that was kind of cool," she said.

Joanna said: ”I found the absolute gem of a message from Elena, dating back to 2020, while scrolling through the message requests section of Facebook Messenger.

"I was like 'that's my handwriting'."

The letter told of how she enjoyed sweets, her love of teddy bears, and, the fact that she didn’t like the opposite sex, telling the finder, "By the way I hate boys.”

Bonus point if you can identify Gary in this picture, taken early on in his career in the fishing industry.