How a message in a bottle secured a honeymoon spot for one Calgarian

thumb Adam with Rory“Dear finder of the bottle:

My name is Adam Johnston. I am from Calgary, Alta., Canada. I am on a sailing trip with a company called SALTS – Sailing and Life Training Society.

“In my journey we are travelling from Honolulu to Tahiti. I have dropped this bottle in between the Marquisan Islands and the Tuamota’s Islands.

Adam RamosAdam Johnston sent a message into the South Pacific in 2007 and in 2009 it was found on the northern shore of Queensland, Australia.

Photo courtesy of: Adam Johnston

“Whoever finds this, please contact me through email.”

Johnston, 26, currently a University of Calgary film studies student, launched the bottle and the hand-written message into the South Pacific Ocean in 2007. His email and mailing address were scribbled alongside a drawing of the Canadian flag. 

“I kept a journal on the trip and I got tired of writing to myself,” he said. “I thought, ‘why not write to someone else?’ I was really bored. We hadn’t seen land for so many days.”

“I did it in the hopes that it would get found, but I totally forgot about it.”

Two years later, Johnston got an email.   

“G’day Adam,” the caller wrote.

“My name is Rory Kelliher and I have in my possession a letter you wrote and put into a bottle. It’s a one in a million find!” 

Kelliher, 30, a reserve soldier, stumbled upon the salt-encrusted bottle while on a patrol for the Australian army. A massive storm had hit the island and the next morning Kelliher’s patrol searched the area. He was unable to disclose the name of the island, due to his role in the military.   

The bottle had travelled 4,300 nautical miles, washing up onto the shores of a deserted island in northern Queensland. 

“Having been stuck on the island for a bit, it was really exciting to make such a find.  We had to break the bottle to gain access to the letter, and then my patrol got a photo with it,” Kelliher said in an email. 

That letter is now framed in Kelliher’s home on Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville in Australia. 

Johnston also has a copy on the wall of his Calgary home. Kelliher presented him with a framed copy of the letter and a bottle of “Aussie wine” when they met in Calgary in February for the first time. 

Kelliher and his wife, Carie Kelliher, were in Canada for a wedding when they contacted Johnston. Teresa and Bruce Johnston, Adam’s parents, hosted the evening.

Adam-with-RoryCalgarian Adam Johnston meets Australian Rory Kelliher, the man who found his message in a bottle.

“There was an instant connection – almost magnetic between Adam and Rory,” Bruce said of the meeting between his son and Kelliher.

Despite living on opposite ends of the world, both men discovered they were not so different. They both grew up with golden retrievers, loved travelling, snow boarding and a good steak.

“We thought they would enjoy some Alberta beef so I picked up some nice steaks from our butcher,” Bruce said. “They were quite large and I wasn’t sure they would be able to finish them — they demolished them.”

Kelliher also remembers “the amazing spread of Canadian beef.” 

“It was a truly fantastic night hosted by a lovely Canadian family.”

Adam smiled when asked to recall it.  “It was like something out of a story book,” he said of the whole event. 

“Who would’ve thought that a little act of boredom would turn into one of the coolest things ever?” 

Adam and his girlfriend, Autumn Abrey, know exactly where they’ll be going for their honeymoon after their future engagement.

They’ll be washed up on a shore in northern Queensland, Australia, at a beach house owned by Kelliher.

“We offered Adam and Autumn a place to stay on any occasion,” Kelliher said.

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